im Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Getting to the .500 mark in conference play after a slow start is always a nice stepping stone for a team, but deep down, coach Brian Gregory and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets feel that their record is not indicative of the kind of team they really are. They can attribute the slow conference start to being on the road and having to adjust their rotation some with the injuries they’ve had to overcome to this point. But deep down they know that they are a good team.
A good way to show that you are a good team is to take out a ranked opponent. The Yellow Jackets need a statement win over a ranked opponent not only for themselves, but also to put the rest of the conference on notice. That is the opportunity that they are going to have Tuesday at McCamish Pavilion when the No.22 ranked Pittsburgh Panthers come to the ATL.
Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon obviously has his team playing well. Once people get past the part his fashionably snazzy suits, they are going to find out that he is a very good coach. Dixon’s squad is led by 6-foot-5 guard/forward Lamar Patterson who averages 17.9 ppg. Patterson is also the Pittsburgh’s leader in 3-point shooting percentage at 43.7% and is second on the team in field goal percentage at 53.5%. Talib Zanna, a 6-foot-9 Senior from Nigeria, is Pittsburgh’s big man and second leading scorer at 12.4 ppg to go along with a team high eight boards per game. The Panthers, overall, are the third highest scoring team in the ACC at 77.1 ppg.
What is going to be a challenge for coach Brian Gregory’s Yellow Jackets is trying to match the overall depth of the Panthers. Pittsburgh is known for going 9-10 players deep during a game. Fortunately for the Yellow Jackets, they seem to have worked out some of their depth issues.
Corey Heyward, Quinton Stephens, and Chris Bolden have done a solid job coming off the bench for Georgia Tech and have made solid contributions. Bolden’s play was especially strong on Saturday against Notre Dame, going 4 of 8 from 3-point range. Georgia Tech fans would love to see a similar effort from Bolden on Tuesday night.
Another key to this game is going to be the defensive effort that Tech guard Jason Morris puts forth against Pittsburgh’s Lamar Patterson. It is going to be interesting to see if Morris can be disruptive against such an efficient scorer.
The Jackets are coming off one of their more complete efforts of the season against Notre Dame, and that should give them confidence going into this game. Tech was able to do well against Notre Dame’s zone defense on Saturday an Pittsburgh will not be afraid to use a similar zone half-court defense on Tuesday. The Yellow Jackets will have to be ready for that.
Trae Golden was huge against the Fighting Irish, scoring 20 points on 8 of 11 from the floor. Tech is going to need him to duplicate that performance on Tuesday. Marcus Georges-Hunt, who was kind of a no show against Notre Dame going 2 of 10 for nine points, needs to have a bounce back game on Tuesday.
If Georgia Tech can continue to do the job that they have on the boards and establish themselves on the interior like they have all season, they will be in this game. Daniel Miller has been huge for Georgia Tech both offensively and defensively. He must establish himself inside and get Pittsburgh’s bigs in foul trouble while keeping himself out of foul trouble.
This is a game that Georgia Tech can get. They just have to keep mistakes down and try to keep the momentum on their side.