Georgia Tech had been here before. For the second time this season, an opponent was coming into McCamish Pavilion fresh off a win against a nationally ranked NC State Wolfpack. In fact this is the third team that had played NC State one game prior to facing the Yellow Jackets. Duke, who hosted Georgia Tech after losing to NC State, was the first, and sent Georgia Tech home with a loss after a 73-53 trouncing. Wake Forest had attempted to invade Atlanta after upsetting NC State just eight days ago, only to be sent home with a twenty point loss. Now, the red hot Virginia Cavaliers stood in McCamish after a three point upset of the then ranked 18th Wolfpack.
Georgia Tech had been reeling since the start of ACC play, posting just one win, and losers of seven of their last eight games. In fact, despite being ranked fourth in the ACC in points against for the season, (59.7 pts. against per game), they had struggled to hold teams under seventy in conference play. This was a weakness Virginia, who has been struggling to score points this season (ranked 238th nationally with a 62.8 pts. per game average), looked to exploit.
Georgia Tech’s defense held true to recent form in the first half, as Virginia led the Yellow Jackets 37-28, shooting 52% from the floor (14-27) and 54.5% from behind the arc (6-11). However, the score was indicative of how close the game had actually been, as Georgia Tech had actually led most of the game up to the 6:39 mark, and only trailed by four with three minutes left before a 10-4 run by the Cavaliers to close out the half, capped by a Taylor Barnette three and a Jontel Evans layup at the buzzer.
“We did not finish out the half well again,” Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said at his post-game press conference. “I talked to the guys at halftime, we made a couple adjustments and give the guys credit; we went out there and on the fly made those adjustments. “
Adjust they did, as the Jackets came out of halftime on a 6-0 run to get the score back down to three. After keeping the Cavaliers within arm’s reach for much of the second half with some stingy defense and sloppy offense, the Yellow Jackets found a spark, started by the tip in by red-shirt Junior Daniel Miller off of a missed Mfon Udofia three pointer to bring the Yellow Jackets within 4. After an offensive foul by Virginia, a Robert Carter Jr. layup, more well played defense, and a Chris Bolden jumper, Georgia Tech found themselves tied with the Cavaliers heading into the under four media timeout.
After Senior Mfon Udofia hit a jumper with 1:19 left to give Georgia Tech the lead, it was the underclassmen who held onto the lead, shooting 7-9 from the free throw line with under 1 minute left, giving Georgia Tech a 66-60 victory, their second conference win of the 2012-2013 season, and their second win against a team that was coming off a victory against NC State.
One time is a coincidence, twice is a trend, and Georgia Tech could find themselves in this situation again in two weeks. They host Clemson on February 14, just four days after they play NC State. You better believe, next Sunday, the Yellow Jackets will be the rooting the hardest for Clemson, or more importantly against NC State.