The No.4 seeded Georgia Tech men’s basketball team earned a gritty and hard fought ACC tournament victory on Thursday afternoon against the No. 13 seed Miami Hurricanes by a final score of 70-66.
The Jackets needed a full team effort in the victory, with Jose Alvarado, Michael Devoe, and Moses Wright all going though struggles at times though Alvarado and Devoe both ended with solid number. Alvarado totaled 13 points while recording three rebounds and and four assists. The Jackets did suffer a bit of a scare in the game with Alvarado, however, as towards the end of the first half, the star guard suffered a knee injury when he his knee made knee-to-knee contact with Miami guard Isaiah Wong’s own knee. He would leave for the final few minutes of the first half but did return in the second half. It was another tremendous effort for Alvarado, after playing in the Jackets final two games of the regular season with a banged up hamstring. Devoe, posted similar numbers with 13 points, three rebounds, and seven assists.
ACC Player of the Year Moses Wright had one of his tougher games of the season and struggled the most. The senior forward/center struggled with fouls in the game, picking up four within the first 26 minutes of the game. He would sit for about eight and half minutes in the second half before eventually fouling out with just under two and half minutes remaining in the game. His day ended with just seven points on 3-of-9 shooting while also recording six rebounds.
Luckily for the Jackets, Wright’s foul trouble and overall quiet day did not cost the Jackets a victory, though it certainly made things interesting down the stretch. They surely could’ve used his presence on both sides of the court in the waning minutes.
Stepping up in their place on Thursday was primally Jordan Usher and Bubba Parham though it is worth noting the trio of Khalid Moore, Kyle Sturdivant, and Rodney Howard combined for 13-points in the win.
Parham and Usher both came up big when the Jackets needed them though making their presence known in different halves. Parham provided a solid boost offensively in the first half recording seven points and finishing with nine while Usher was dominant in the second half, recording 13 points in the half, finishing the game with 15.
The first half of Thursday’s affair was rather back-and-forth though the Jackets did trail for a majority of the half. The Jackets didn’t play terrible over the first 20 minutes but had a hard time matching Miami’s efficiency as the Hurricanes shot 52.2%. The Jackets were able to keep it a rather close game, however, thanks to shooting 4-of-9 from beyond the arch. The Hurricanes would end up taking a 33-29 lead into half time.
For most of the second half, Miami was visibly running out of gas, playing their third game in three days. They struggled shooting for most of the half and turned the ball over 12 times in the final 20 minutes. Allowing the Jackets to eventually take the lead with 11:25 remaining. After going through a stretch where they scored just 12 points over 10 minutes, the Hurricanes found energy in the final five, matching those 10 points to cut a once 59-53 Georgia Tech lead down to 68-66 with 31.9 seconds remaining.
The play of the game wouldn’t come until those final 30 seconds when Jose Alvarado rushed from sideline to sideline to save an errant inbound pass on Miami’s side of the court. Had he not been able to save the ball, the Hurricanes would’ve had a tremendous opportunity to tie the game with the chance to get the ball back for a potential buzzer beater. Luckily, for the Jackets, Alvarado made the save and the ball would find its way up to Jordan Usher who slammed it home for his 14th and 15th points of the game to ultimately put the Jackets up by the final score of 70-66.
The Jackets were lucky to escape without the score being any closer as they struggled with turnovers in the second half and especially late. Out of their 11 turnovers for the game, the Jackets turn the ball over nine times in the second half including five times in the final three minutes.
With the victory, the Jackets will now face the ACC’s No.1 seed, the Virginia Cavaliers in Friday in the semifinals looking for a spot in Saturday’s conference tournament championship.