Georgia Tech unravels in second half in loss at N.C. State

Georgia Tech's Miles Kelly had 20 points and 10 rebounds. File photo by Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Georgia Tech's Miles Kelly had 20 points and 10 rebounds. File photo by Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

RALEIGH, N.C. – Georgia Tech had the wheels fall off Saturday in the second half and lost 82-76 at North Carolina State inside PNC Arena.

The Yellow Jackets, who wound up being outscored 47-40 over the final 12 minutes, allowed the Wolfpack to run and hunt in transition thanks to 12 turnovers. N.C. State scored 18 points off those turnovers and led by as many 14 in the second half – and at one point had 27 points to Tech’s 12 in the second half.

After upending No. 3 North Carolina on Tuesday, Tech couldn’t find the same mental fortitude from that night and now hasn’t won back-to-back games since Dec. 21-22.

“We gotta grow up fast because it’s about to be over,” Tech first-year coach Damon Stoudamire said after another letdown by his team. “The reality is there’s a month left. So this thing is about to be over.”

Nait George had 18 points for Tech and his 3 with 2:04 on the clock got the Jackets within 71-65. But it was the last gasp from the visitors as the Wolfpack (15-7, 7-4 ACC) drained the clock from there. Miles Kelly also scored 20, his most points since Jan. 9, and grabbed 10 rebounds. Kowacie Reeves added 12 on four 3-pointers.

The Jackets missed eight free throws and gave up 18 second-chance points.

Tech (10-12, 3-8) returns home to host Wake Forest (13-7, 5-4) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“It’s very frustrating. Of course nobody wants to lose, especially close games at that,” Kelly said after the loss, Tech’s 15th this season of 10 points or less. “We just gotta find a way, like coach says, to get over the hump and stop being a front-running team. We can’t just get up for games when we play top-ranked teams. We gotta get up for games when we play N.C. State and the middle-of-the-pack, lower-ranked teams.

“It was good to see my shot fall, but we gotta string together some wins and that’s what it’s all about,” said Kelly. “Regardless if my shot falls or not, if we win that’s all I really care about. We just gotta figure out a way to string out some wins and we’ll be good.”

Tech was teetering on the edge of murky waters in the first half Saturday, too, trailing 29-18 with less than six minutes to go in the first half. But the Jackets strung together 11 straight points, including five from George, to tie the game at 29 in a span of 2:52.

Kelly’s 3-pointer at the top of the key with 1:09 on the clock gave the Jackets their first lead of the night at 34-33 and then Kyle Sturdivant’s runner, beating the shot clock, 53 seconds later put Tech up 36-33. Tech’s lead wound up being ahead 36-35 after 20 minutes.

That lead, despite growing to 44-38 early in the second half, rapidly disappeared when N.C. State went on an 18-3 run over a period of 5:43 early in the second half. Tech never recovered and only unraveled further.

Jayden Taylor’s fast-break dunk with less than nine minutes to go brought the PNC Arena crowd to a fever pitch and forced a timeout. The Wolfpack led by an insurmountable 62-48 score at that point.

Three Wolfpack players finished with double figures, led by DJ Horne’s 26. Taylor scored 21 and Casey Morsell added 15. D.J. Burns had 10 rebounds for N.C. State, which shot 77.3% from the line and 42.9% from the field in the second half.

“The game just got away from us when we turned the ball over. It’s a shame because we were controlling the game and we just didn’t do a good job of managing those moments,” Stoudamire said. “We were up and then we actually had some opportunities to bump the lead up, but we just didn’t do a good job of managing the game at that time.

“You gotta know who you’re playing again. N.C. State is a team of runs so they made their runs and we just couldn’t withstand it.”

NOTES

  • Tech is 44-61 all-time against North Carolina State and 14-32 against the Wolfpack in Raleigh.
  • The Jackets have played 16 games decided by 10 points or less.
  • The Jackets are 6-10 this season against teams with winning records, 7-3 when leading at halftime, 3-12 when trailing at 5-minute mark, 9-5 when scoring 70 points, 5-12 when the opponent scores 70, 6-2 when the opponent shoots less than 50%, 8-3 when shooting better a better percentage than the opponent and 9-5 with a 20-point scorer.
  • Tech is 8-23 in its last 31 road games and 5-20 in its last 25 conference road games.
  • Attendance on Saturday was announced as 15,523.

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