LOUISVILLE, KY- Georgia Tech went on the road to battle Louisville for last place in the ACC and the Jackets came out on the bottom end of things falling 68-58 in a game where Tech failed to shoot 30 percent from the field and missed nine free throws on 24 attempts. It was the first ACC win for Louisville coach Kenny Payne and it was a bad basketball game for both teams.
The short-handed Jackets without starting point guard Deivon Smith (ankle) and semi-regular starter Lance Terry seemed to run out of gas in the second half after narrowing and tying the game several times following a 33-28 halftime deficit.
Tech was 0-11 in the second half from three and did not hit a field goal in the final 4:07 of the game while Louisville hit four of their final five shots including the game-sealing thee by Kamari Lands with 43 seconds left to extend Louisville’s four-point lead to seven.
“We were 0-11 from three and I can’t tell you how many great looks we had in the second half,” Pastner said. “I thought the guys played hard and competed and left it all on the floor. We did well on the offensive glass, but what killed us in the first half was second-chance points(11-2 for Louisville).
Josh Pastner extended the Jackets’ ACC losing streak to eight games with the loss.
“SInce the Miami game (our shooting) is unexplainable,” Pastner said. “If we shot like we are capable of we should’ve been up 10 in the first half. We had so many open shots and missed so many close-up shots in the paint too. In ACC play we have not shot the ball well. It has been our Achilles’ heal all year. It is unexplainable and you can’t tell them to not shoot the ball.”
Louisville shot 45.7 percent for the game but had 15 turnovers compared to just five for the Jackets. The biggest difference in the game was the Cards hitting 19 of 26 (73.1%) from the line.
Jae’Lyn Withers led all scorers with 19 points and he added a game-high 13 rebounds as well. EL Ellis and Kamari Lands each added 11 for the Cards and JJ Traynor added 10.
Senior guard Kyle Sturdivant led the Jackets with 17 points but he took 16 shots to score 17 and was just 2-9 from three and hit just five field goals on those 16 shots.
Miles Kelly added 16 points as well but he needed 16 shots to get there and was 2-7 from the arc.
Senior big man Rodney Howard had zero points and one rebound adding to Tech’s woes.
Tech forward Ja’von Franklin was one of the few bright spots with 12 rebounds including seven offensive boards, eight points, four steals and three blocks.
“Ja’von was great. He was just so active for us on the glass and he had four steals and three blocks. He played like he has practiced the last couple of days,” Pastner said.
Freshman forward Freds Pauls Bagatskis played a season-high six minutes and went 1-3 from three.
“We were missing so many open shots I was hoping that Freds would open some stuff up for us to help us win the game,” Pastner said.
Georgia Tech trailed at the half thanks to a woeful shooting performance for much of the first half and Louisville getting easy buckets in the paint. The Cardinals were 8-14 inside the arc in the first half. Jae’Lyn Withers had 14 points and seven rebounds for the Cards at the break. Miles Kelly led the Jackets with 10 points at the break. Tech’s frontcourt trio of Howard, Franklin and Moore were 1-7 in the first half with just two points.
The Jackets travel to NC State on Saturday for a 2 pm tipoff against a hot NC State squad.
GT started out slow missing the first five shots of the game before a Sturdivant three at the 16:57 mark. Louisville tied the game at 8 all after a pair of layups before the first media timeout with 13:17 left. The Jackets opened up action 3-11 shooting in the first five-plus minutes of action. Louisville opened up a 3-point lead with the only bucket over the next 90 seconds before the second media timeout 11-8 at 11:36. Maxwell broke a 7-0 run with a free throw. Tech stormed back to make it a one-point game 29-28 with under a minute to go, but the Jackets gave up a transition three and turned the ball over on the ensuing possession and Coleman fouled Kamari Lands on an offensive rebound putback attempt and he hit both free throws to go up 33-28 at the half on the Jackets.
Miles Kelly picked up his third foul with 16:56 left in the game and Tech down six 40-34. At the first media timeout Tech trailed by five 41-36 thanks to a cold start offensively with four straight misses. Jalon Moore’s work in the second half on the glass helped get the Jackets back into the game with two easy buckets 41-39 with under 14 minutes to go. Tech trailed 45-43 at the second media timeout with 11:07 left in the game. Out of a Tech timeout, Ja’von Franklin dunked in an offensive rebound to tie the game. Miles Kelly picked up his fourth foul with 7:12 left in the game and the Jackets’ down 50-48. Louisville extended the lead to six on a lob from El Ellis to JJ Traynor 54-48. Traynor hit a three after Tech cut back into the Cards lead getting it back to four, making it 57-51 at the final media timeout. Wheeler was called for a flagrant one and Coleman hit one of two at the line to make it 57-52. Jalon Moore added a free throw to make it 57-53 with three minutes left. Mike James responded with a three to make it 60-53 Cards. Sturdivant hit a pair of free throws to make it 60-55 with 2:26 left. Miles Kelly missed a six-footer and then fouled on the other side and Lands hit both free throws to extend the Louisville lead to 62-55. Studivant hit a pair of free throws and stole the inbound and hit one of two, to make it 62-58 with 1:14 left. Lands hit a three with one second left on the shot clock in Coleman’s face to take a 65-58 lead.