The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets pushed past the Syracuse Orange 84-77 on Saturday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion in Downtown Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets secured their fourth straight win in Atlantic Coast Conference play and look to be a threat in March.
The Yellow Jackets started the game on an 8-0 run that was fueled by Moses Wright’s aggression under the rim. Wright blew past the Orange’s double teams in the lane to set the pace early. Syracuse started the first half with an unsuccessful matchup zone defense. Georgia Tech did a great job finding open lanes against this scheme. The team scored 22 of their first half points in the paint and forced Syracuse to make some defensive adjustments. Syracuse made the game close by occasionally applying triple teams in the paint. This forced Tech to make tougher shots from the perimeter instead of the quick lay ups that gave them an early advantage.
Tech’s man defense was solid to begin the game but began to break down late in the first half. Khalid Moore was tasked with guarding Syracuse’s Alan Griffin and it did not go very well. Griffin started the game slow but once he warmed up he was on fire. He dropped 20 points in the first half alone on 77% FG shooting and 80% shooting from deep. Michael Devoe and Jose Alvarado were tasked with guarding the opposing Joseph Girard and Quincy Guerrier. Girard finished the day with ten points, while Guerrier ended with a dozen. Overall, Tech did a great job forcing turnovers. They were able to convert off the opportunities as well, scoring 28 of their points off of turnovers.
“That first half he was on fire.” Georgia Tech Head Coach Josh Pastner said . “We had some great contests. It was like a good ‘D’ but better offense. You have to give Syracuse a lot of credit.”
The game became a back and forth affair throughout the second half. Syracuse had a great strategy that consisted of “let Alan Griffin go to work.” Khalid Moore and the Jackets simply had no answer as he was able to penetrate the lane and drop threes with ease. Michael Devoe and Moses Wright kept Tech in the game. Devoe knocked down some clutch shots but also forced several big turnovers. He got a big steal on Girard and was able to draw a foul on the fast break. Moses did his work in the paint. The biggest thing of note was that Moses didn’t attempt any threes. Having him be a force down low and not stray to the perimeter is a key to success for the Yellow Jackets. Devoe and Wright finished the night with 18 and 31 points.
“It’s our desire that we want to make the tournament.” Michael Devoe said. “That’s our ultimate goal we set at the beginning of the season. So this last stretch is opportunities for us and we cannot take those lightly.”
Tech was able to pull away with a lead late in the second half. This was due in large part to switching Alverado onto Alan Griffin. This adjustment resulted in Griffin finishing with only six points in the second half. Moore’s assignment switched to guarding Guerrier. Griffin was able to be slowed down while Tech took advantage of the momentum being swung there way. Jose had a slow night offensively due to double teams, however, his defensive contributions were extremely valuable. Alavarado had a big steal late on Syracuse’s Kadary Richmond to set up a break away dunk from Moses Wright. This was followed by a one handed slam from Jordan Usher on tech’s next possession. Alvarado had six assists today and his supreme facilitation set up buckets and the win.
Tech now moves to 13-8 overall as they are set to face the Duke Blue Devils at home on Tuesday. The Yellow Jackets fell to the Blue Devils on the road earlier in the season. This rematch will be senior night for Georgia Tech as they host their last home game of the season.