Kelly’s 36 points not enough as Georgia Tech collapses late in loss at Louisville

Miles Kelly (shown here in an earlier game against Georgia) scored 36 points Saturday against Louisville.

Credit: AJC file photo/Jason Getz

Credit: AJC file photo/Jason Getz

Miles Kelly (shown here in an earlier game against Georgia) scored 36 points Saturday against Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Georgia Tech completely collapsed down the stretch Saturday night in its 79-67 loss to Louisville.

The Jackets had a nine-point lead with a little more than eight minutes to go. They would be outscored 18-2 over the next six minutes and find themselves down 69-62. And they never recovered.

“What happens at times is, we start wavering when teams make runs. Our recovery isn’t good enough. It’s disappointing. It’s disappointing from that standpoint. That’s the thing that gets me down,” Tech coach Damon Stoudamire said. “It’s not about guys not making shots. I don’t care about that. Get lost in the little things. Helps us rebound, box out, take a charge, dive on the floor for a loose ball. That means something to me. And that’s what we don’t got. That’s what we didn’t have. (Louisville) got that. They got that tonight.

“For me, again, points, they come and they go. But the little things you bleed into, those are the things that you need each and every day to win games.”

The result wasted a career-high 36-point effort from Miles Kelly. But Kelly was the only Tech player to do much of anything offensively.

His teammates went a combined 11-for-43 (25.6 percent) from the floor. Forwards Baye Ndongo and Tafare Gapare and guard Kowacie Reeves went a combined 1 of 18. Point guard Nait George had zero assists.

Kelly’s 36 points were the most since Michael Devoe scored 37 at Georgia on Nov. 19, 2021, and his 11 field goals also set a career high. But it was all for naught.

Louisville (8-16, 3-10 ACC) went 31-for-34 from the line and had six players score in double figures led by Kaleb Glenn’s 15.

“We gave effort, we just didn’t always play smart I thought. Sometimes it’s like that,” Stoudamire said. “But let me tell you something, man, I don’t care about points. We got out-toughed.”

After the teams traded baskets for the better part of the first seven minutes of the second half, Kelly put Tech up 45-40 with a 3 from the top of the key - his fifth of the game. Kelly’s sixth triple with 10 minutes to play gave the Jackets a 54-47 lead.

The Jackets (10-14, 3-10 ACC) then had a 60-51 advantage after a pair of Kelly free throws with 8:15 to play, but their inability to spread the ball around evenly on the offensive end doomed them in the waning moments. Tech finished with 15 turnovers and 10 assists.

Tech, now in last place in the ACC standings, next heads to Notre Dame (8-16, 3-10 ACC) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“I just think it was one of those nights. Everybody’s not gonna have the best night offensively,” Kelly said. “We just gotta do the little things a lot better, dive on the floor, boxing out, stuff like that. That’s what I think.”

Tech began the evening by going scoreless for almost four minutes until Kelly hit a jumper.

Louisville then went on 10-0 run midway through the first half to go up 17-11. Kelly responded once again with three 3-pointers in a row to put the Jackets ahead 20-19 with six minutes left until the break.

Kelly would finish with 21 points in the first half. He made seven of Tech’s 11 field goals and four of the team’s seven triples in carrying the Jackets to a 32-30 halftime lead. But he couldn’t carry them enough over the final 20 minutes.

Tech has now lost three straight since beating No. 3 North Carolina on Jan. 30.

“For me, the biggest thing that you fight for when you’re in your first year (as a coach) is you’re fighting for, everybody uses the word culture, but you’re fighting for a standard. Guys gotta know my standard. It’s a standard that you gotta set each and every day,” Stoudamire added. “That starts at practice and it bleeds into the game. I thought guys played hard. Didn’t necessarily play smart all the time and we couldn’t make any shots, but at the same time, too, it was a lot better than what it was against Wake (Forest in an 80-51 loss Tuesday).”

NOTES

- Forward Ebenezer Dowuona and Tech guard Deebo Coleman did not play Saturday due to injury.

- With 36 points Saturday, Kelly needs 25 to reach 1,000 for his career.

- Tech is now 15-27 all-time against Louisville and 4-15 in road games against the Cardinals.

- The Jackets have lost eight straight in Louisville, last winning a road game against the Cardinals Dec. 19, 1992.

- The Jackets are now 2-7 on the road this season, 7-4 when leading at halftime, 7-1 when leading at the 5-minute mark, 1-9 when scoring fewer than 70 points, 5-14 when the opponent scores 70 points, 1-11 when shooting a lower percentage than the opponent, 2-8 when getting out-rebounded and 10-5 with a 20-point scorer.

- Tech is now 8-24 in its last 32 road games and 5-21 in its last 26 conference road games.

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