Georgia Tech hopes recent second-half trend continues against Boston College

Georgia Tech forward Ja'von Franklin puts down a dunk in the Yellow Jackets' win over Virginia Tech at McCamish Pavilion Feb. 15, 2023. (Eldon Lindsay/Georgia Tech Athletics)

Credit: Eldon Lindsay/Georgia Tech Athle

Credit: Eldon Lindsay/Georgia Tech Athle

Georgia Tech forward Ja'von Franklin puts down a dunk in the Yellow Jackets' win over Virginia Tech at McCamish Pavilion Feb. 15, 2023. (Eldon Lindsay/Georgia Tech Athletics)

In Georgia Tech’s 96-76 win at Syracuse on Tuesday, the Yellow Jackets put the game practically out of reach with an 11-0 run to open the second half. Against Louisville on Saturday, a 7-2 run by Tech compelled a timeout by Cardinals coach Kenny Payne. Against Virginia Tech on Feb. 15, the Jackets stretched out a 10-point halftime lead with an 11-5 run to start the second half.

As the Jackets have won four of their past six ACC games and five of seven overall – they play at Boston College on Saturday in the final game of the regular season – quick starts in the second half have been common. It has been a contrast with multiple instances in the preceding nine-game losing streak, when Tech lost control of games after coming out of halftime.

Some of the change in results may lie in foam rollers and massage guns. During Tech’s losing streak, coach Josh Pastner scrambled to find a solution for his team’s post-halftime torpor.

“We were trying to think about doing less in the halftime, doing more, do we need to come out on the court so early than we were?” Pastner said Thursday. “We were trying everything to start the second half better.”

Since the team’s turn in fortunes began, Pastner has had strength-and-conditioning coach Eddie Dimas lead players through exercises to keep muscles loose, using foam rollers, massage guns and stretching.

“Doing some different things just to try to keep them warm, so when we get on the court, to keep some momentum going in the second half,” Pastner said.

Are the strong starts because players have been physically primed during halftime, or merely because they’re convinced that they are? Ultimately, so long as it works, it may not matter.

Going into the final regular-season matchup, Tech is locked into the No. 13 seed for the ACC Tournament that begins Tuesday in Greensboro, N.C. The Jackets’ opponent will be either Virginia Tech or Florida State. The two teams are tied for 11th and play Saturday in Blacksburg, Va., with the loser dropping to 12th and facing the Jackets.

Tech defeated the Hokies 77-70 on Feb. 15 at McCamish Pavilion in the teams’ lone matchup this season. The Jackets lost to FSU 75-64 in Tallahassee, Fla., on Jan. 7 in a game that triggered Tech’s nine-game losing streak.

The winner of the 12-13 game will play the No. 5 seed Wednesday. That team will be either Pitt, Duke or Clemson. The Blue Devils and Tigers are tied for fourth at 13-6, while the Panthers are tied for first at 14-5. Because of the various tiebreakers used to set seeding, Pitt is the only one of the three teams tied for first that could drop to fifth. All three teams play Saturday (Pitt at Miami, Duke at North Carolina and Clemson vs. Notre Dame).

Duke administered the Jackets’ worst loss of the season and one of their worst ACC losses in team history, an 86-43 wipeout at McCamish on Jan. 28. Clemson swept the Jackets, winning 79-66 at McCamish on Dec. 21 and then 72-51 at Littlejohn Coliseum on Jan 24. Pitt also swept the Jackets, winning 71-60 at McCamish on Jan. 14 and 76-68 in Pittsburgh on Feb. 21.

An earlier version of this story misstated the teams that could earn the No. 5 seed.