“Just to attack the big because he’s slower on his feet. We already knew that coming into the game,” George said of his heroics. “So if I could get downhill I at least get a shot up so my teammates can maybe crash the glass. That was really my main focus, to get the shot up - and get to my shot, too, which is the left floater.”
North Carolina’s RJ Davis, who scored a game-high 28, missed a potential game-winning runner of his own at the other end and the rebound pinballed around as time expired. After a bit of a delay, Tech’s students stormed the court to celebrate.
Tuesday’s win for the Yellow Jackets (10-11, 3-7) was its first against a top-3 ranked team since March 12, 2005, its first over a top-three ranked team during the regular season since March 3, 2004, and first over a top-three ranked team at home since Jan. 12, 1994.
“Man, what a win. What a win for the guys. This was about as big of a team win as I’ve ever seen,” Tech coach Damon Stoudamire said. “Proud of each and every one of ‘em that was on the court. They all delivered in their own way whether it was rebounding, whether it was scoring, whether it was passing, whether it was boxing out, whatever it was. Team win, just a great team win. I’m just so proud of ‘em.”
George scored 16 to go along with four rebounds and four assists. Kyle Sturdivant, playing like a senior cognizant of what was at stake late, poured in 18 points and Miles Kelly added 15 – all in the first half. Tyzhaun Claude played 28 instrumental minutes and pulled down eight rebounds and scored nine points.
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Nine different Jackets scored en route to a victory that nearly slipped away in the waning moments.
Tech had a 68-60 lead with 4:45 to go, a lead that evaporated as UNC went on an 8-1 run to draw within 69-68. But Sturdivant hit a leaning, banked-in triple from the left wing making it 72-68 – the Jackets’ last points for the next 3:20 until George’s fateful shot.
Having snapped a losing streak, the Jackets will now look to build a winning streak when they play at North Carolina State (13-7, 5-4 ACC) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. They have that opportunity because of a strong will to survive Tuesday.
“I came and told you guys, I always feel like we was one possession away from having a completely different record, completely different season to this point,” Sturdivant said. “So I just communicated to our guys, like, ‘Guys, we can’t let this one slip away. We done fought too hard, we done had too many adverse moments to conquer. So let’s win this one.’ "
Tech, to its credit, continued to battle in the first half sans Ndongo. It trailed by as many as 11 with 5:34 on the clock before scoring seven straight, including Kelly’s third 3 of the half, to get within 36-32.
North Carolina would only score one point, its lone tally over the final 5:34 of the period, from there. Tech scratched, clawed and fought to give itself a chance at tying the game before the break and did so when George’s running floater from the right side of the lane was goaltended.
Tech then fell behind 49-44 early in the second half. But the Jackets responded with a 10-3 run that was punctuated by Deebo Coleman’s 3 from the right wing that put Tech ahead 54-52 with 12 1/2 minutes to play. A Claude bucket and Studivant three upped the run to 15-3 and gave the Jackets a 59-54 lead.
The Jackets led for the next 9:43 until Davis’ layup with 34 ticks on the clock put the Tar Heels up 74-73. That would be UNC’s last lead of the night.
Davis was the only North Carolina player scoring in double figures. Harrison Ingram pulled down 13 boards and Armando Bacot had nine points and nine rebounds.
“You gotta compliment Georgia Tech. We did have a double-figure lead in the first half. Defensively we made mistakes on coverages and they capitalized on it,” Heels coach Hubert Davis said. “They’re a good basketball team. They played extremely well at home.”
- Tuesday’s game was deemed a sellout by Tech, the program’s first since a Jan. 8, 2020 loss to No. 2-ranked Duke.
- Attendance on Tuesday was announced as 8,600 giving Tech an average of 4,905 after 11 home games this season.
- The win over North Carolina gives the Jackets victories over North Carolina and Duke in the same season for the first time since the 2020-21 campaign.
- Tech has three wins over ranked opponents in the same season since beating five during the 2020-21 campaign.
- With 15 points Tuesday, Kelly (909) surpassed the 900-point mark for his college career
- Tech forward Ibrahima Sacko connected on a first-half 3 on Tuesday, his first points since Dec. 21 against Massachusetts in Hawaii.
- Tech is 28-72 all-time against North Carolina and 16-23 against the Tar Heels at home.
- The Jackets have played 15 games decided by 10 points or less.
- The Jackets are 6-9 this season against teams with a winning record, 1-1 when tied at halftime, 7-0 when leading at the 5-minute mark, 5-11 when the opponent scores 70 points, 8-2 with a better shooting percentage than the opponent and 2-6 when getting outrebounded.