COACH: Paul Hewitt, 10 years at Georgia Tech, five years in NCAA Tournament
HOW THEY GOT IN: At-large bid MATCHUP BREAKDOWN: Georgia Tech’s defense, which held opponents to 37.9 percent shooting from the field, will face a severe test from an Oklahoma State team that shot 45.0 percent on the season. Shooting guard James Anderson shoots 46.3 percent and averages 22.6 points per game for the Cowboys. The Yellow Jackets have been getting big efforts out of freshman forward Derrick Favors in recent games, and if that continues, he can be the difference between moving on and going home early. He scored 68 points in Tech’s four ACC tournament games. The Yellow Jackets look to have an advantage with their bench, even though F Zach Peacock is coming off a scoreless outing in the ACC title game loss to Duke.
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GO-TO GUYS: Junior F Gani Lawal, freshman F Derrick Favors and sophomore G Iman Shumpert all averaged between 13 and 11 points a game in leading Tech’s balanced attack. Favors finished the regular season strong, averaging 16.4 points and 9.6 rebounds a game over the last five outings. Senior F Zachery Peacock came off the bench to shoot nearly 50 percent from the floor in the regular season while scoring in double digits in 10 games. The rebounding tandem of Lawal (8.8 per game) and Favors 8.4) was the league’s best in the regular season, and Favors was the league’s No. 2 shot blocker.
THEY’LL KEEP WINNING IF: Tech’s defense rounded back to form with three wins in the ACC tournament before being handled by Duke in the title game. Tech has had some problems holding onto late leads and overall has been somewhat of a disappointment, especially after losing three of its last four games in the regular season to put its NCAA hopes in jeopardy. But if the defense regains the form that held the first 29 opponents to just 37.5-percent shooting from the field, the Jackets can be a dangerous foe for some unsuspecting opponent. STRENGTHS: Tech is talented enough to make a deep run into the tournament, with a deep bench that produces about 25 points a game. Lawal and Favors can be dominant inside, and freshman Brian Oliver can come off the bench and drill a 3-pointer (40 percent on the season). Until allowing Clemson and Virginia Tech to shoot better than 50 percent in the last two games, Tech was among the national leaders in field-goal defense. The Jackets still ended up tied for ninth in the country in the regular season, allowing foes to shoot only 38.4 percent in 30 games. Tech was No. 3 in field-goal percentage in the ACC (46.1 percent) overall and also in 3-point shooting (38.4).
WEAKNESSES: Tech can be careless with the basketball with seven games of 20 or more turnovers. The Jackets averaged one more per game than their opponents and had more turnovers (250) than assists (212) in ACC play. Free-throw shooting can be an adventure. In the last month of the regular season, the Jackets had one game in which they were 11-of-12 from the stripe after going just 23-of-44 in the previous two games, and then they went 29-of-43 in the following two games. For the season, Tech shot only 65.4 percent from the line, 11th in the conference.