Any coach, player or fan knows that the most critical parts of a college basketball game are the last four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half. A team can either build or lose momentum heading into the break, and they can either set or lose the tone coming out of intermission.
On Friday night in Athens, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets dominated this 8-minute section of the game, resulting in their second straight win in the Classic City (something that hadn’t been done since the 1960-1961 seasons).
After playing slightly behind for the majority of the first half, Kenny Gaines actually gave UGA a 31-30 lead following a pair of made free throws. Juwan Parker scored on the ensuing possession, and Georgia held a 33-30 advantage with 4:11 remaining before the break.
Tech, however, used 5 points from point guard Trae Golden and two Georgia turnovers to go on a 13-5 run to close out the half, with the Yellow Jackets leading 43-38 after 20 minutes of play.
They Yellow Jackets opened up the second half with a 12-2 run, and after another Golden three-pointer Tech found itself holding a commanding 55-40 advantage with 16:46 left in the game.
The Dawgs were never able to cut much into this lead, and Tech cruised out of Athens with a 80-71 victory, their third of the season.
Georgia Tech was lead offensively by Trae Golden, who finished the game with a team-high 18 points.
As a team, UGA played fairly well defensively, limiting the Jackets to under 39% from the floor. Tech did get several easy baskets along the baseline due to some slow rotations by the Georgia bigs, but other than that Coach Fox had to be pleased with the defensive effort.
Offensively, Georgia looks too much like a one-man show. Sophomore Charles Mann shouldered the scoring load for the Dawgs, putting up a career-high 24 points (including a scorching 4 for 4 performance from beyond the arc). Unfortunately though, Mann also led UGA with 7 turnovers – however, some of those can be attributed to a lack of help around him (at times it looked as if Mann was just trying too hard to create offense).
After two scrimmages against UNC-Pembroke and Wofford, Georgia got its first taste of real Division I competition and Charles Mann appeared to be the only player ready to make something happen with the ball in his hands.
UGA’s lack of an inside presence (once again) allowed the Jackets to extend their defense to the perimeter, placing added pressure on Mann and fellow sophomore Kenny Gaines, who ended up with 13 points, but it was at the expense of a 3 for 10 shooting performance.
Coach Fox will need an inside player to step up and take some of the pressure off Mann and Gaines if this team hopes to find much success this season.