Georgia Tech traveled to #16 Virginia Tech needing another ACC road win badly to improve their NCAA Tournament hopes. The Jackets won in style 69-53 with their first back-to-back ACC road wins since 2008 for Georgia Tech.
This was the fourth win this season for Georgia Tech against a top 20 opponent, the Jackets are 4-3 with their only losses coming at Florida State and twice to Virginia once at home and once in Charlottesville. That fact was not lost on Jackets’ head coach Josh Pastner.
“A great win for the Georgia Tech Institute of Technology and the Yellow Jacket Nation. I’m really proud of our young men. It’s great to win a game on the road. It’s our fourth top 20 win this year and the first time in a while that Georgia Tech has beaten Virginia Tech on the road. Obviously, Virginia Tech’s a great basketball team very well-coached by coach Young who is one of the best coaches in the country,” he said. Our staff did a great job in game planning and prep and obviously, all credit and kudos go to our young men or fine student-athletes who got the job done.”
Moses Wright had a huge night with a double-double finishing with 26 points on 9 of 11 shooting and 10 rebounds including three offensive rebounds.
Jose Alvarado had 13 points and five steals while the third big cog of the Georgia Tech offense Mike Devoe 12 points, 11 in the second half.
The Hokies turned the ball over 16 times to Georgia Tech’s seven in the game and held Virginia Tech to 41-percent shooting while the Jackets shot 52-percent and 64-percent in the second half to close out the game.
Virginia Tech cut the Jackets lead to six, but Tech stormed back to stretch it back to ten with just over six minutes to go. The Hokies continued to try to chip away and the Jackets held them off unlike games earlier this season against Virginia and at Clemson where Tech blew leads and ended up coming up short.
“I thought there were some games earlier that we let slip that we didn’t know how to win. And part of that is learning how to win. We’ve started to develop that. And that’s just part of our program and our team getting better and growing. And we’ve improved, we’ve gotten better, and it shows by the results,” Pastner said.
Learning how to play with the lead and absorb another team’s run on offense has been something Pastner has been trying to impart on his team this year along with having a killer instinct to put teams away when they are on the ropes. The Jackets did both on Tuesday night.
That’s a nightmare and it’s and it’s R rated and it’s scary, and it’s awful and it leaves you sleepless for multiple nights in a row,” Pastner said of the Jackets’ blown second-half leads this season. “You can’t eat and you just wake up in cold sweats. So yes, I’ve seen that before. And fortunately, we’ve in these last few games, we’ve learned how to win. We got stops and we executed the other end. Look basketballs a game of runs and teams are going to make runs and they made their run, but we were able to withstand it and then made a final run at the end that got us to win.”
Georgia Tech opened up a second-half lead on a Mike Devoe corner three and extended that lead to 34-28 with 16:24 left in the game. Wright jammed in an offensive rebound to make it eight points at 36-28. Wright slammed in another basket to extend a 9-0 run putting Tech up 38-28 with 14:21 left. Alvarado hit a crossover three at the end of the shot clock to extend the lead to 13, 41-28 as part of a 12-0 run holding Virginia Tech to one field goal during the opening six-plus minutes of the second half. Tech kept the lead at 12 at the under-eight timeout. Pastner said that run came from an offensive tweak his assistants put in during halftime.
“Virginia Tech’s a very good basketball team, and they’re really good defensively, extremely well-coached,” Pastner said. My staff deserves credit for that. We opened up the second half, we made some adjustments, all credit goes to the staff, it was their ideas. I was smart enough to take the ideas and not to say no to it. So all credit goes to the staff on that. We made the adjustments and then obviously, it’s a player’s game and the players stepped up made big shots.”
Wright said the adjustment was mainly calling the same play over and over that the Hokies struggled to defend.
“We called ‘low’ one time and if anyone knows coach Pastner, if something is working we will keep running it over and over until they stop it,” Wright said. “Jose and Mike coming off those ball screens were just making good decisions and got us going.”
Both teams struggled out of the gate with no field goals in the first four minutes of action and the lone scoring being a single Hokie free throw. The Jackets trailed the entire first half until a transition three by Jose Alvarado on the Hokies’ 10th turnover. The teams ended the first half tied at 24 with GT shooting just 41.7-percent while the Hokies shot 40.9-percent. Virginia Tech had 11 first-half turnovers while Tech had just five, but the Hokies outrebounded GT 19 to 8. Wright had nine points to lead Tech scorers while Naheim Alleyne led the Hokies in the first half with nine points.
Georgia Tech hosts Syracuse at noon on Saturday in McCamish Pavilion in the first matchup between the two schools this season. Tech has lost two in a row to the Orange.
“Every game counts and we don’t plan on losing, every time we step on the court our season is on the line,” Alvarado said. “We have another big one on Saturday. We want to make the dance and we want to go dancing. Our goal is to win Saturday and then try to get that one and go on to Duke.”
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