Ga. Tech Insider: Measuring Stick Week
The Yellow Jackets have shown they won't be pushovers in the ACC.
But this week should tell us how far they've come under new coach Brian Gregory.
The Jackets host Virginia (14-2, 1-1) on Jan. 19 and visit Clemson (9-8, 1-2) two days later. If Tech can manage a split, it will reinforce the notion better days are ahead.
Tech (8-9, 1-2) followed its upset win at N.C. State with an ugly 61-50 loss at Maryland on Sunday.
"I thought we played with pretty good effort and pretty good intensity and did a halfway decent job in some stuff," Gregory said. "But on the road, you've got to be better than that and we just weren't."
The Jackets shot a season-low 33.9 percent as they struggled to finish in traffic and after contact.
"It was a physical game and they out-toughed us," said forward Kammeon Holsey, who scored a team-high 11 points.
As they've proven repeatedly, the Jackets must win the rebounding battle to win the game. Maryland edged Tech 38-36.
Tech started the season 7-4 when it outrebounded its opponent, 0-5 when it didn't, and 1-0 when it was even.
--The Jackets shot a season-worst 33.9 percent in Sunday's loss at Maryland. They went 3 of 17 from beyond the arc, and ranked last in the ACC in 3-point shooting percentage (31.1) at that point.
--Tech fell to 1-7 at the Comcast Center with its 61-50 loss to Maryland on Sunday. The Terps took a 35-34 lead in the all-time series.
--Tech has been outrebounded five times this season, losing each time. The Jackets were outrebounded 38-36 in their Jan. 15 loss at Maryland.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- That's how many shots leading scorer Glen Rice Jr. took in Sunday's loss at Maryland, making two. Rice had taken 27 shots over the previous two games, scoring a total of 50 points in a narrow loss to Duke and the upset win at N.C. State. For Tech to win, Rice must get more looks or make opponents pay for double teams. He had just two assists at College Park, Md.
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
--vs. Virginia, Jan. 19
KEY MATCHUPS: Coming off their worst shooting performance, the Jackets face one of the ACC's top defenses. Virginia was allowing a league-low 51.1 points per game and holding opponents to 38.9 percent shooting (4th) entering the week. Kammeon Holsey likely will get the task of guarding UVA's Mike Scott, who ranked fourth in the ACC in scoring (16.9) and sixth in rebounding (8.9), through the weekend. Look for a bounce-back game from Tech's leading scorer, Glen Rice Jr.
--at Clemson, Jan. 21
KEY MATCHUPS: Tech C Daniel Miller gives up three inches to Clemson's 7-2 reserve, Catalin "Bobo" Baciu. But Baciu has been very inconsistent, and Miller is more physical. Tigers senior G Andre Young averaged 13.1 points, but was shooting 40.5 percent, through Sunday. Tech's Mfon Udofia is a sticky defender who could make it tough for Young to get going.
FUTURES MARKET: Backup C Nate Hicks, a 6-10 sophomore, tied his career-high with seven rebounds in Sunday's loss at Maryland. He also had four points and a blocked shot, but committed three turnovers. At 218 pounds, Hicks must add muscle and be stronger with the ball. Only then will he be able to finish inside consistently. If Hicks develops, starter Daniel Miller wouldn't have to play 30 minutes a night.
Swingman Glen Rice Jr., who scored 28 points in a narrow loss to Duke and 22 in the upset win at N.C. State, was held to six points on 2-of-8 shooting in Sunday's loss at Maryland. However, Rice did a good job defensively on ACC leading scorer Terrell Stoglin, who needed 12 shots to get 14 points.
Starting PG Mfon Udofia is making much better decisions lately. He had 10 assists and five turnovers through Tech's first three ACC games after entering conference play with 10 more turnovers than assists.
Starting F Kammeon Holsey was shooting 63.9 percent from the field (69 of 108) through Sunday. That would lead the ACC, but Holsey has not taken enough shots to qualify.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"One of the things that we need to preach and need to get better at -- we need to get tough and be able to finish through some contact and make some plays around the basket." -- Coach Brian Gregory, on how his team can improve.