The first annual Holiday Hoopsgiving college tournament tipped off at State Farm Arena in Downtown Atlanta on Sunday as the 20th ranked Kentucky Wildcats came into town, the local Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets hoped to get their first win of the season on home soil. Both the Yellow Jackets and Wildcats came into the tournament off back to back losses and looking to turn things around before conference play begins.
Georgia Tech’s offense has been lead by senior forward Moses Wright. The sharpshooter came into the weekend averaging 25 points and 12 rebounds and ready to penetrate the relentless Kentucky defense. While Wright has had no issues letting it fly this season, the Wildcats have been struggling when it comes to shooting behind the arc. Kentucky came into the tournament shooting 9/47 on 3-point attempts and prepared for Tech to try to expose them with a heavy zone defense. University of Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari even made a joke of the team’s terrible ability to space the floor before in a press conference before the game.
“So I would expect they’re going to play 40 minutes of zone and think at some point, we’re not going to make open shots. It’s a little bit dangerous because if you’ve watched us in practice we can make them and hopefully we’ll be in that mode,” Calipari said.
The Wildcats were definitely in the mode as they hit the court splashing 42% from behind the arc. However, as they corrected their deep threat shooting, another area of weakness was exposed. The Wildcats’ twenty-one turnovers and poor ball handling sealed the victory for the Yellow Jackets as seven players had at least one steal for Tech. The pressure was led by Jordan Usher, Bubba Parham, and Khalid Moore swiping three steals each. Not only were they getting takeaways, but they also managed to convert the majority of them to points as well.
Georgia Tech maintained control over the favorited Wildcats throughout the entire game and showed no sign of being worn down. Moses Wright led the charge for the Yellow Jackets again as he posted 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and three blocks. The senior proved his ability to create plays for himself and others while staying serviceable on the defensive end.
“Coming off of those two losses, everyone was like we shouldn’t be in this position. So we just got in the gym and grinded to get better and better. This is the outcome of iron sharpening iron. We all pushed each other harder and got the outcome we wanted, a win tonight.” Wright stated.
Kentucky was led by freshman guard Terrance Clark who posted 22 points, three rebounds, and three assists. It was his four turnovers that hurt his team in the long run as the Wildcats could not find a rhythm in this matchup.
“How hard they played and competed is who we are…For us to bounce back and respond against a top twenty team in Kentucky and win like we did is a tremendous accomplishment.” Georgia Tech Head Coach Josh Pastner stated.