ATLANTA – Georgia Tech lost its fifth straight ACC game and all three of its home stand in an 80-63 loss to Syracuse. To make matters worse, Orange fans took over a large part of the McCamish Pavilion during the game. by josh pastner the team falls to 1-8 in ACC play this season one spot ahead of winless ACC Louisville.
Tech is off to the worst start in ACC play since the 2014-15 season under brian gregory. The Jackets started that season 1-9 and finished 3-15 in the ACC.
joe girard was the great equalizer for by Jim Boeheim team with a 28-point performance that includes going 6-for-10 from three and adding five rebounds and seven assists in the 40 minutes of action.
“Girard has to give him credit for hitting some tough shots. I think we defended very well. We were cold at the end of the first half with a 14-0 run or something. We started very well and our starts have been outstanding, we have not kept 40 minutes and that has been the struggle. We made a great comeback and fell off the cliff.
We needed more from our guys, I love that we had 20 assists on 25 field goals, but 16 turnovers is too many. When we put the ball in the middle we needed the Jalón to play at a high level. I have complete confidence in him up the middle and there were other times when our guards didn’t get the ball up the middle,” Tech head coach Josh Pastner said. “We had some great looks at certain times, we just didn’t hit them.”
Orange shot 55% of the game and had 18 free throw attempts compared to Tech’s six. The Jackets shot 43% from the field and attempted 31 3-pointers making 32% of their outside shots. That was the most 3-point attempts since a four-overtime loss to Georgia State in 2020.
Turnovers also killed Tech with 12 in the first half and 16 overall. The Orange held a 24-7 advantage in turnover points. Most of Tech’s turnovers in the first half came against the Syracuse rush employed by Orange coach Jim Boeheim after his team dropped 11 early.
“I think (Girard) made some tough shots and he was the difference in the game plus our 16 turnovers. Girard is a great player and is playing like a first- or second-team All-Conference player. He’s a shooter, in the past they had other guys, but he had to take over,” Pastner said.
Tech cut the lead to six with 7:15 remaining in the game, but Tech was outscored 17-4 in the final 6:22 of the game.
“We scored on the press and other times we had layups and passed the ball, we had layups and we were trying to play on the sidelines instead of scoring the ball. We need points and we have to get to 70 and today we got to 63,” Pastner said.
Pastner said the problems on the offensive side of the ball aren’t effort-based and he understands why fans are unhappy with the past two seasons.
“Our guys are giving their best, there are stretches where we’re not scoring and we have to get to 70. Losing sucks and our results up to this point are not acceptable and I don’t find them acceptable, and our fans don’t. The only way to get the crowd back is to win games,” Pastner said. “The frustration and disappointment of the fans, they have every right to be frustrated and to win the crowd over, we have to win games. It is not a matter of effort, it is us going in scoring droughts. Basketball is a fun game. Virginia is 2-8 last year and they end up winning the ACC Championship. Sports are a fun thing.”
Girard scored 18 points in the first half to lead the Orange charge, including a stretch in which he scored 12 of 14 points for Orange as they erased an 11-point Tech lead.
“Our interior defense improved a bit and we started slowly defensively. Joe had a great first half and a great game. He was tremendous. Smith is a pretty good defensive player and he was terrific. Judah made some tremendous passes,” Boeheim said. “Our press made them shoot a little faster.”
In the first half, Deebo Coleman was the bright spot for the Jackets, hitting all four of his shots for 11 points. Jalon Moore and Miles Kelly each scored seven points, but Kelly continued to struggle with his shot going just 1-for-7 on 3-pointers.
Coleman finished with 17 points on 5-8 from three. He predicted a shooting performance Friday during his media appearance by saying he had stayed in the gym this week until his fingertips bled while working on his shot.
“I knew going into this game they would run a lot of zone, with the zone looking good from the outside and I stayed in the gym,” Coleman said of his great performance.
Kelly added 13 points but took 11 3-pointers and 14 shots to get all 13 points. Jalon Moore was also in double figures with 11 points, but he took 13 shots to get there and battled foul trouble most of the game after getting his third foul midway through the first half. That was the turning point in the game where the Orange took command of the game.
Tech started the game scoring 21 points in the first 7:33 of the game building that 11 point lead. It took the Jackets nearly 21 minutes of play to score their next 21 points. Coleman said that once Cuse switched to press, the team lost its footing and didn’t play well.
“I don’t know why it bothers us so much when they pressured us, we’ve been good against the press and we turned them around and got up to speed,” Coleman said.
The Jackets also had three goal calls against them in the game on poorly timed blocks at the rim. They were also outscored 44-24 in the paint.
“Not having a shot blocker that we had the first five years, our center was All-First Team defense the first five years and we don’t have that this year. Part of shot blocking is timing and having that instinct to do it,” Pastner said.
Pastner’s teams have generally been very tough with one key player leading on both ends, either Josh Okogie or Jose Alvarado, both of whom are now in the NBA. Pastner said his team can be too good and he doesn’t have that killer personality on the team for the second straight season.
“We have a good group of guys, maybe they are too nice. They do things the right way and are a joy to train. Losing is hard for everyone. I know how upset the fans get, but it’s also hard for the players and also for me and the staff. To our guys’ credit, they’re still fighting. Our margin for error is little or none, perhaps none. We don’t have that kind of mentality that we’ve had in the past this year or last year, but we’ve got good guys and they do a great job, but when you need that bucket, we don’t have that guy to go get that bucket. Or just making sure we stop and transition. Our guys are giving everything they’ve got, they’re the best they can be. We just have to break the barrier and get a win,” Pastner said of the lack of a killer on his team.
Tech returned to the early season lineup of Smith, Kelly, Coleman, Moore, and Howard. Lance Terry (hamstring) and Tristan Maxwell (hip pointer) missed the game with injuries. Maxwell’s injury is more of a long-term situation according to Pastner.
The Jackets return to action Tuesday night at 9 pm at Clemson.
Deebo Coleman started strong with a pair of 3-pointers and the Jackets hit 6 of 7 shots to take a 15-8 lead into the first media timeout. Tech extended the lead by working the inside and midrange game to 21-10, leading to Boeheim’s timeout with 12:53 to go in the half. Jalon Moore made three quick fouls that led to him leaving the game with 10:56 to go and Ja’von Franklin coming on. Joseph Girard scored eight straight points to erase Tech’s lead and give the Orange its first lead of the game 26-25. Deebo Coleman snapped a 17-0 run with a 3-pointer to make it 33-28 after 13 of 15 points from Girard. Jalon Moore made the first free throws of the half with one second left to break a 3:59 scoring drought with one of two as Tech trailed 40-33 at halftime.
Jalon Moore committed his fourth foul just over a minute into the second half. Cuse pulled away 52-39 thanks to another scoring drought of nearly four minutes. Ja’von Franklin smashed it with a layup. Tech made five straight field goals to pull within six, 57-51 with less than 10 to go. The Jackets trailed 61-54 at the third media timeout with 7:42 to go. Orange went on a 6-0 run to extend the lead to 12, 69-57, leading to Pastner’s timeout. The Orange went up 13 just before the final media timeout, 71-58.