Georgia Tech Basketball: Jackets can not afford a letdown against Pittsburgh


Playing the best basketball of their season, Georgia Tech basketball cannot afford a letdown game against Pittsburgh.

Over the course of the last week there is no doubt that Georgia Tech basketball is playing their best basketball of the season. The Jackets are 3-0 since last Thursday including two upset victories over Miami and Notre Dame.

The Jackets who had a disappointing non-conference slate have gotten their ACC schedule off on the right foot. Entering Friday, the Jackets are 2-1 with a loss to Notre Dame in South Bend. Now, the Jackets will take on the Pittsburgh Panthers.

The Panthers had a rather surprising record entering their conference schedule at 8-5. But since ACC play began, the Panthers have dropped four straight. That being said, the Panthers opened their ACC slate off with Miami, Louisville, Virginia Tech, and Duke. Not exactly the easiest stretch of games.

That being said, there are very few teams in the ACC that the Jackets are more talented than. One of those teams is the Panthers. While they were able to get by mid-major programs, the Panthers have struggled against major power conference programs, with a 0-7 record.

The Panthers have one of the worst of offenses in the country scoring just 66.6 points per game while allowing over 70, certainly a losing formula. For the Jackets, it won’t take anything special to take down the Panthers. They should just go back to their winning formula for a fourth straight game.

That formula is pretty straightforward; play strong defense (55.6 ppg), limit turnovers, and feed the ball to Josh Okogie. Okogie missed a month and a half this season due to suspension and injury but has been nothing short of outstanding through eight games.

The sophomore guard has lit up the scoreboard averaging 19.6 points per game including a 30-point performance against Miami last week. So far the Snellville, Georgia native has scored double-digit points in each game he’s played.

The Jackets winning formula of recent has worked despite up-and-down play from both Tadric Jackson and Jose Alvarado this season. While both players have been great assets this season, both have gone through their fair share of lumps.

Another major reason Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh is important is the Jackets schedule ahead. After Pittsburgh, the Jackets take on #3 Virginia, #20 UNC, #23 Florida State, and #19 Clemson. The Jackets will take on the Cavaliers and Tigers at home while they travel to Raleigh and Tallahassee.

A win on Saturday over Pittsburgh would move the Jackets to a 3-1 record in conference play heading into this important four-game stretch. While the Jackets upset both UNC and Florida State last year, they struggled against Virginia and Clemson. The Cavaliers are looking as strong as ever while Clemson has gotten much better in a year’s time. The Jackets have had nearly unprecedented success under Josh Pastner in his first two years at home and the bookend games of Virginia and Clemson will be highly important to the Jackets season.

If the Jackets can split the four-game stretch, it will put them at 5-3 in conference play with an easier but still challenging stretch of games.

Next: Georgia Tech downs ND 60-53

In essence, the Jackets on Saturday must take care of business against Pittsburgh. After their disappointing start to the season, the Jackets are starting to gain momentum and come into their own. Losing to Pittsburgh would derail any momentum and leave the Jackets back at square one. A victory heading into a four-game stretch against four ranked opponents will give the Jackets as much momentum and confidence as they’ve had all season which they will need to take all they can heading into their matchup against Virginia.