Georgia Tech coming off big win, travels to No. 25 Louisville

NCAA Basketball

It’s a chance for No. 25 Louisville to get back on track after losing three of the last four games. It’s Georgia Tech’s opportunity to validate perhaps its best win of the season.

When the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Cardinals and Yellow Jackets meet Monday in Louisville, it will be as fairly surprising equals.

Louisville (10-4, 5-3 ACC) is likely to be unranked by tip-off, thanks to its 54-50 loss at Clemson on Wednesday night. The Cardinals simply couldn’t get on track against the physical Tigers, connecting on only 18 of 57 field goals and going a pitiful 5 of 24 on 3-pointers.

“Tough night for us offensively,” summed up Louisville coach Chris Mack. “We couldn’t buy a basket, whether it was from the field or from the foul line, and Clemson changed a lot of how they played defense.

“I thought our guys battled as hard as we could. It was just a muddy game, and we couldn’t be better than they were the last four minutes,” he said.

None of the Cardinals’ top scorers were able to solve the Tigers’ scheme. Carlik Jones made just 4 of 14 shots and was limited to 11 points, well under his 18.4 points per game average coming in. David Johnson and Jae’Lyn Withers combined for 11 points after entering the evening averaging 23.5 between them.

Louisville defended well enough to win, holding Clemson to 35.8 percent shooting and 7 of 35 on 3-pointers while earning a 42-38 edge on the boards. But it simply couldn’t reward itself on the offensive end.

Given how Georgia Tech played Saturday in scoring a 76-65 upset of No. 16 Florida State, the Cardinals might want to remember how to put the ball in the bucket.

The Yellow Jackets (8-5, 4-3) got 23 points from Moses Wright and 21 more from Jose Alvarado, plus another 19 from Michael Devoe. They hit 50 percent of their field goals in the second half, a significant feat against a Seminoles team with lots of length and a willingness to use it, and canned 19 of 25 free throws for the game.

“It’s a great win for Georgia Tech,” said coach Josh Pastner. “We had two tough losses at Virginia and Duke, and we were able to get over the hump. All seven guys that played did a great job.”

It’s not a stretch to suggest that the Yellow Jackets would be a Top 25 team in Monday’s poll had they been able to close out the games at Virginia and Duke. They led the Cavaliers by 11 before falling in overtime, and owned a late lead against the Blue Devils before suffering a tough loss.

“I love our guys; they play so dang hard,” Pastner said. “It’s who we are, and I’m really proud of them.”

Alvarado (18.3 ppg, 4.4 assists) and Wright (17.1 ppg, 7.2 rebounds) comprise one of the top 1-2 punches in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets average 77.7 ppg and convert 46.9 percent of their field goals.

This will be the only regular season meeting between these teams.

–Field Level Media

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