There were circumstances that fed into Tech’s failed endeavors with the ball. The Jackets have been waylaid by a flu bug, and starting guards Jose Alvarado and Michael Devoe missed Thursday and Friday’s practices with flu symptoms. They were made available only Saturday morning. Alvarado actually broke out of a six-game scoring slump, hitting for a game-high 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting. Devoe, however, scored six points on 2-for-11 shooting after bagging a combined 40 points in Tech’s past two games.
Also, Florida State (20-5, 8-4) is an especially tough team to score against inside the 3-point arc. The Seminoles’ defense is anchored by 7-foot-4 center Christ Koumadje, and coach Leonard Hamilton has an array of long, athletic players capable of challenging shots.
But that doesn’t quite explain the funk. Tech chose shots poorly, particularly going to the basket against Koumadje. The Jackets had six shots blocked. Simple passes weren’t always completed. Tech turned the ball over multiple times inbounding the ball.
Tech was tied with FSU at 10-10 and then stalled. A 3-pointer by Devoe was blocked. Center James Banks missed a jump hook in the lane. Devoe mishandled an inbounds pass and lost the ball. Devoe missed badly on a 3-point shot. Forward Abdoulaye Gueye airballed a jump hook. The Seminoles went on a 12-0 run to take a 22-10 lead and held a double-digit lead for the remainder of the game.
“They outworked us,” Alvarado said.
Moreover, the Jackets couldn’t do much on the offensive glass, in part because they typically don’t go hard to the glass to prevent transition scores by the opposition. Tech was 16-for-59 from the field, but secured only six offensive rebounds.
The Jackets failed to reach 50 points for the third time in the past five games. To be sure, not much was expected of this team, which was picked to finish 13th in the ACC. The Jackets are living up to the projection.
Again, the defense was sufficient. In shooting 39.1 percent from the field and scoring 69 points, the Seminoles were held under their season and ACC averages for field-goal percentage and points per game.
“Georgia Tech utilizes a defensive scheme that’s probably the best zone defensive scheme that I’ve seen in my coaching career,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said.
But it didn’t matter in the final outcome.
“I know it’s frustrating for everyone involved,” Pastner said.
It was a particularly ignoble day at McCamish Pavilion, which was sold out, but also was stuffed with Seminoles fans. On hand for the game were coaching great Bobby Cremins, whose name adorns the court and who was calling the game for the Raycom Sports Network, and Mark Price, the three-time All-American. Also in attendance were several former players, there for the annual letter-winners game.
“Nobody wants to win worse for the letter winners and coach Cremins than myself,” Pastner said. “I want to win for Yellow Jacket nation.”