The team that wasn’t supposed to have over achieved based on talent and experience just keeps on growing. Isn’t that the sign of well-disciplined players accepting their roles and playing according to their identity? The Buzz is they might get an invitation to the Tourney. And that buzz isn’t coming from BUZZ the Yellow Jacket. It’s from the respect they have earned from around the league. They are 14-3 at home have defeated three top-15 teams currently there are on a six game home streak. The most impressive are the five straight against ACC opponents at home. Can you smell an invite to the DANCE?
Unfortunately tonight the streak was broken by the North Carolina State WolfPack. The mighty Jackets didn’t go away silently they fought to the very last second and nearly won the rematch in a thriller 71-69. The coach made the right decision going to a full court press that transitioned to half court forcing shot clock violations and last millisecond shots but they nailed a few of those desperation shots to include lucky three pointers. Dennis Henderson a future NBA Draft pick was simply clutch.
With the 2 games in 3 days, schedule tech had dead legs. Ben Lammers who normally plays 40 minutes was simply not himself. Granted the long bunch for NC State was more athletic, they had a lively bounce Ben didn’t have. He had only 1 point 3 blocked shots and 4 rebounds in the first half. He finished the game with 6 points, 4 blocks, 9 rebounds. He played with great effort but it simply wasn’t there.
Tech did not reach the magic number of 70 missing it by one point when they do they are 13-0. The first half was filled with mishaps like traveling calls I personally counted three. The killer was a quick 4 point gift just as the half expired when NC States Ted Kapita murdered an awesome running ally oop followed by a careless Inbound pass by Quinton Stephens stolen by Rowan for an easy layup right underneath the basket capping the lead 39-30.
Josho Okogie the NC State Killer picked up from where he left off from the first game Jan. 15 in Raleigh when he led Tech to victory with 27 points to win the first match up. He was on fire scoring 10 points at the 110-minute mark of the first half. He played the starring role delivering 25 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots. This was the nineteenth of the last 23 meetings in this series decided by 10 points or less with three of those decided in overtime.
The Wolfpack largest lead was 14 points with 3:09 remaining in the game. The character and will to win of this Jackets team under Pastner’s leadership just wouldn’t let them quit fighting. On a hustle play, Heward ended up with the ball and started the fast break but was held by the defender for a flagrant foul. He missed the first free throw but hit the second. Terry Henderson hit two free throws to make the score 63-70 in favor of the Wolfpack. Hot shot Okogie nailed a 3 pointer for Georgia Tech bringing the lead to four. Ben Lammers came up with a steal but Tadric Jackson misfired on the 3 point attempt. Terry Henderson with all-out effort grabbed the rebound and was fouled immediately. He missed the free throw Quinton Stephens willed the rebound, got the ball to Josh Heath he got it to Tadric Jackson on an outlet pass, he nailed a critical 3 pointer with four seconds remaining to give the NC State faithful a near heart attack just like that the score was 69-70 showing why they are called the Ramblin Wreck.
Okogie committed the quick foul to send Dennis Smith Jr. to the free throw line in a pressure cooker. He missed the first took a deep breath and nailed the second, score 69-71 Wolfpack. Then on a nonverbal situational play Tech took the ball out football tossed to the towering Ben Lammers at the top of the key who tapped it over to Tadric Jackson for a 3 point attempt. He got a good look but the shot went off the rim. The score 69-71 reflects a loss for Georgia Tech
but what an HELL-A-VA effort by this solid team of over achievers.