Georgia Tech edges Boston College in overtime in regular-season finale

It wouldn’t have been a Georgia Tech game without an extended scoring drought. But, on Senior Day and the final regular-season game of the season, the Yellow Jackets were able to survive it, defeating Boston College 82-78 in overtime Saturday at McCamish Pavilion.

“I thought, goodness, man,” coach Josh Pastner said. “Is this going to be another one of those deals? We were able to hold on.”

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The Jackets went 6-1/2 minutes and 10 possessions without scoring in the second half (seven by turnover) and in the process lost all of its 15-point second-half lead but managed to extend the game to overtime. In the extra period, Jordan Usher’s basket with 2:05 remaining gave Tech a 76-75 lead, and the Jackets led the rest of the game.

After swallowing defeat in their past four games and seven of the past eight, Usher and his fellow seniors (Michael Devoe, Khalid Moore and Bubba Parham) were able to celebrate with an announced McCamish crowd of 5,336.

In his final home game in a Tech uniform, Usher tied his career high with 30 points on 12-for-16 shooting, dropping 19 of the points after halftime.

“My mindset was just to come out and play my hardest for any Tech fans, for my brothers, for myself for my family and just come out with a win,” Usher said. “I could have scored zero points. As long as the score was still the same as it is, I was happy. I’m thrilled right now.”

Usher and freshman guard Miles Kelly were the Jackets’ engines after Tech’s scoring lapse. In the final frantic 11 minutes, including overtime, when Tech desperately was trying to avoid another come-from-ahead defeat, Kelly and Usher scored 18 of the Jackets’ 23 points.

Tech had to escape Boston College’s final possession of regulation, in which the Eagles had two shots at the basket in the final 21 seconds with the score tied at 70-70. Given the Jackets’ season, in which they’ve repeatedly come up short in no small part because of offensive collapses like Saturday’s, it would have been no surprise. But both shots missed.

Georgia Tech 82, Boston College 78 (OT)

“I think I was watching the rebound at the end of regulation, and No. 5 (DeMarr) Langford almost put in a tip-in, and I was watching it go,” Usher said. “I was like, Oh, my gosh. I do not want that to go in. That would hurt my heart immensely.”

Pastner applauded his team’s continued fight at the end of a trying season.

“For a lot of young people, it’s easy to go the other way and lay down. Those guys have never laid down,” he said.

Tech played in front of at least two notable guests, Tech coaching great Bobby Cremins and NASA astronaut and Tech grad Shane Kimbrough. In his typically meandering postgame comments, Pastner noted both men’s attendance while also thanking the crowd and pep band for their support and also praised the woman who sang the national anthem.

“I want to ask (Kimbrough), ‘Do you believe in aliens?’” Pastner said. “Like, do you believe in extraterrestrial life? Honestly, I wanted to ask him that.”

Tech (12-19, 5-15 ACC) shot 56.6% from the field (30-for-53) but also turned the ball over 15 times and shot 13-for-22 from the free-throw line.

Boston College (11-19, 6-14) shot 44.1% from the field (26-for-59) and was led in scoring by guard Jaeden Zackery (19 points on 6-for-9 shooting).

Based on the outcomes of other ACC games Saturday, Tech will be the No. 14 seed and will play No. 11-seed Louisville in the first round of the ACC Tournament at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Brooklyn, N.Y. While the Cardinals defeated the Jackets on Jan. 2 at McCamish, they lost 14 of their final 16 regular-season games in a reeling season that included the firing of coach Chris Mack.

The winner of the Tech-Louisville game will play No. 6-seed Virginia on Wednesday night. The Jackets lost 63-53 to the Cavaliers on Feb. 12 in Charlottesville, Va., in the teams’ only meeting this season.

In finishing in 14th, one spot ahead of N.C. State, the Jackets avoided becoming the first team since Virginia in 1977 to win the ACC Tournament one year and finish in last place the next.

Tech was to fly to New York on Sunday. Usher told his teammates after the game to plan for a long stay.

“Pack the big bag, two of them,” Usher said at the postgame news conference. “Get all of your underwears. And if I see you with a small bag, you’re not coming.”