Saturday, February 8, 2014

game preview: Georgia Tech

Date/Time: Saturday, February 8; 12:00

TV: ACC Network, ESPN3

Record against the Jackets: 35-39

Last meeting: UVA 82, GT 54; 2/24/13, Charlottesville

Last game: UVA 76, BC 66 (2/5); Clem. 45, GT 41 (2/4)


UVA: 62.8 (#337)
GT: 67.2 (#160)

UVA: 109.1 (#85)
GT: 102.5 (#208)

UVA: 87.6 (#3)
GT: 98.3 (#61)

UVA: .9257 (#10)
GT: .6182 (#112)

Projected lineups:


PG: London Perrantes (4.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.7 apg)
SG: Malcolm Brogdon (12.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.4 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (11.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.2 apg)
PF: Akil Mitchell (6.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.3 apg)
C: Mike Tobey (7.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.4 apg)

Georgia Tech:

PG: Trae Golden (14.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.3 apg)
SG: Corey Heyward (0.8 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 1.2 apg)
SF: Marcus Georges-Hunt (12.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.3 apg)
PF: Kammeon Holsey (7.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.7 apg)
C: Daniel Miller (11.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.3 apg)

UVA's slog through February continues.  The Boston College game was mostly the blowout it should've been, except for the end which UVA decided to make interesting by easing off the gas pedal.  I did say BC could make some runs on offense.  I'm hoping that the end result is the best of both worlds: a win and a wake-up call, the latter of which is occasionally necessary.

Three of the next four are on the road, starting Saturday in Atlanta.  Georgia Tech has been slammed with injuries this season and it's shown on the stat sheet.  It's caused them to struggle in ACC play more than they probably should've, as losses to NC State and Miami have hurt the bottom line.  They'll be hoping that a four-game homestand rights the ship somewhat.

-- UVA on offense

GT's big center Daniel Miller didn't make last year's all-defense team in the ACC by accident.  Miller is one of the toughest customers in the post in the whole conference; he checks in at 6'11", 275, and has been an outstanding shot-blocker his entire four-year career.  At any time Miller is in the game, which is about 30 minutes of it, he's a hugely disruptive presence in the post.

He's one guy, though.  You can pass around or shoot over one guy.  GT might, maybe, who knows, get back power forward Robert Carter.  Carter has missed all ten games of the ACC season with a torn meniscus, and his absence has been keenly felt.  Were he to return, he would give the Jackets a second shot-blocker inside, as well as an absolutely elite rebounding presence - one that might be slowed a bit by rust and rehab, but much better than any of GT's other frontcourt options.  Kammeon Holsey is no shotblocker and bench forward Quinton Stephens is a total stick at 6'8', 184.  Even without Carter, GT is a very good defensive rebounding team, thanks to Miller and Holsey, but Carter would give Akil Mitchell some fierce battles down low.

Whether UVA can actually score down low depends partly on Carter.  Without him, even Miller hasn't been able to keep opponents off the scoresheet just by himself.  GT was one of the best teams in the country in 2-point D before the ACC season and one of the worst in the conference since conference play began.

On our side of the ball, Malcolm Brogdon has been doing what Joe Harris did last year: have a big game, and then have a bigger one, and then a bigger one.  His stat line against BC was a little bit of everything and a lot of some things.  Now that he's going home to play in front of family and friends, you have to think he wouldn't mind giving them a little show.  Lately, GT has been starting freshman Corey Heyward at shooting guard, for reasons both of thinness and shaking up the lineup; Heyward is a smallish, quick player, but UVA will clearly look to take advantage of Heyward's inexperience.

-- UVA on defense

There's a slim chance GT won't have point guard Trae Golden available for the game.  He aggravated a groin injury in GT's win over Wake Forest and sat out the Clemson game.  Life without Golden was pretty crappy for the Jackets - they scored 41 points in the loss to Clemson.

GT is so totally screwed if they don't have Golden that it'd be not even worth doing any analysis.  Just call it game over.  So for the sake of the narrative, we'll assume they do.  Even if on the court, Golden may be limited, the driving portion of his game taken somewhat away if he's worried about his groin.  And GT might not want him playing 30 minutes, either.  When Golden's not in, the point belongs to Corey Heyward, who isn't ready and will probably get chewed up and spit out by UVA's defense.

The Jackets are just an inefficient team on the whole, though.  They lack a three-point threat - their best shooter was Solomon Poole, recently kicked off the team.  Golden is an OK shooter but has never displayed good shot discipline.  Chris Bolden, in and out of the starting lineup at shooting guard, is just an awful shooter in general. 

If GT would run more of their offense through Daniel Miller, they might have better success.  Miller's size makes him tough to stop, and he's got a little bit of range too.  This is a guy who used to be kind of a schmutz on offense, but has reduced his turnovers and improved his shooting every year, and has become a real weapon.

Carter, if he plays, can also score down low, and Kammeon Holsey brings a pretty good midrange game, but also gets in foul trouble and turns the ball over too much.  The rest of this team?  Mainly volume scorers.  Marcus Georges-Hunt is second on the team in ppg, but first in minutes and shots and only shooting .416.  GT as a whole doesn't shoot well, particularly threes, turns the ball over too much, and doesn't do a hot job at drawing fouls, either.  If Carter is in the game, they can be a little more multi-dimensional, but Golden is likely to be somewhat limited, which gives back the whole gain from Carter and then some.

-- Outlook

Any team that plays less than efficient offense is a great matchup for UVA.  UVA's defense is designed to make you inefficient.  The longer the possession, the more likely you are to turn it over, and UVA specializes in long possessions; you generally get one shot because UVA rebounds so damn well; often that shot's a crappy one for a long multitude of reasons.  When playing a team that already turns it over too much, can't rebound on offense, and shoots badly, things ain't likely to go well for said opponent.  Carter's presence might improve their offensive rebounding, but without him they've been 13th out of 15 in conference play.  As long as UVA can shake off the travel and the early game time - and they already waltzed into Notre Dame and laid down the stick after having to bus in from Chicago during some kind of polar vortex whirlpool death blizzard, so I think they can handle balmy Atlanta (assuming the poor city has recovered from their own apocalyptic brush with winter) - they should be just fine.

Final score: UVA 68, GT 54

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