Georgia Tech Basketball: Jackets Upset Louisville in Wire-to-Wire Fashion

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 04: Michael Devoe #0 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets reacts after a play against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Dean Smith Center on January 04, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 04: Michael Devoe #0 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets reacts after a play against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Dean Smith Center on January 04, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The last time Georgia Tech and Louisville met, the two ACC foes gave the fans at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, a heck of a game. On Wednesday night in Atlanta, the two teams decided to give fans another terrific game that left fans on the edge of their seats.

The Yellow Jackets (12- 13) enter Wednesday night looking for a signature win for their season, something to use to build momentum going into the final weeks of the regular season and ACC Tournament. Louisville (21- 4), was looking for their 11th straight victory. The Yellow Jackets, however, had different plans for the Cardinals and would deliver a major upset, taking down the Cardinals 64-58 in wire-to-wire fashion.

Early on it was all Georgia Tech with the Yellow Jackets dominating the opening minutes of the game. The Jackets would take advantage of a Cardinals team that struggled to hit their shots early and would find themselves up in the first half 16-5. As usual in college basketball with two quality teams, the team who often finds themselves in a big hole early climbed their way back into the game, in this case the Cardinals.

After the Jackets took their early 11-point lead within the first 10-minutes of the game, the Cardinals were able to begin getting their offense together and would outscore the Yellow Jackets 21-15 over the remainder of the first half. That being said, the Yellow Jackets 11-point lead early on was enough for them to hold onto the lead going into halftime at 31-26.

The Yellow Jackets have been in this spot before against teams that on paper are better and more talented. Would the Yellow Jackets be outplayed in the second half or would they find a way to pull a much need victory and major upset? It would take all 20-minutes of the second half to answer that question.

In the second half, it was very much a back-and-forth affair. While both teams at times missed their fair share of buckets, rarely did either team have an extended run in the half. But despite Louisville’s continuous pushes in the second half, the Yellow Jackets never relinquished their lead in the second half.

The Jackets would see their lead get trimmed to as low as one point with 26.4 seconds left but the Cardinals, whose offense shot just 33.3% for the game was never able to find the lead themselves.

Georgia Tech’s defense was really spectacular for the most part on Wednesday evening. The Louisville offense is one that could explode at any time and the defending national champions, the Virginia Cavaliers found that out this past weekend as the Cardinals put up 80-points.

The Jackets against Louisville continuously caused the Cardinals to take tough shots and gave little breathing room. The Jackets did especially well against Louisville’s starters, keeping four of five to single-digit points. Louisville’s leading scorer Jordan Nwora was kept exceptionally quiet during the game as well. Averaging nearly 20-points per game, the Jackets didn’t allow Nwora to have any room to make a difference, keeping him to just two points on 1-of-6 shots.

The Cardinal with the best success on Wednesday was guard Malik Williams. Williams, who scored 13-points the last time the two teams met was once again a nemesis for the Jackets. Williams totaled 16-points in the game and was effiecient while doing so. He shot 5-for-11 from the floor including 5-for-7 from the line. He also had eight rebounds in the game, making his impact felt on both ends of the court.

For the Yellow Jackets, the entire starting lineup was tremendous in the victory. Each of the Jackets five starters earned double-digit performances including 18-points from junior guard Jose Alvarado, as he led all scorers. Moses Wright was the Jackets second leading scorer in the game with 12-points while shooting 4-for-7 from the floor and 4-for-4 from the line. He also led the Yellow Jackets with six rebounds.

One place the Yellow Jackets could look as a reason for their victory was their success at the free throw line. The Jackets have struggled in the past at the line but on Wednesday, they shot 20-for-28.  As a team, they shot 43.5% from the field, 28.6% from beyond the arch, and of course, 71.4% from the free-throw line.

For the Yellow Jackets, Wednesday night’s game showed that the Yellow Jackets once again have the talent and skill to play against the country’s top programs. Rarely have the Yellow Jackets been blown out this season and despite the lack of results, the last few weeks have really shown how much the Jackets have grown and how close they are to possibly taking the program to the next level.

Wednesday night’s victory over the Cardinals was a great example of that improvement and how much progress the Jackets have made this season. Georgia Tech head coach Josh Pastner has faced plenty of heat for the program’s performance over the last few years but he deserves all the credit for building this Tech team into one that will compete with the best. Overall, on Wednesday night, you saw a Tech team that was hungry for a major victory and did everything they could to pull out a victory. They went for each and every 50-50 ball and made every little extra push they could in the game. In the end, it was good enough to earn one of the biggest upsets in the ACC this season.