Miles Kelly steps up for Jackets late in win over Bulldogs

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Miles Kelly showed up again when Georgia Tech needed him, as the Jackets defeated Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion.

Kelly’s improvement showed when it was most needed late in the game. With Tech down 77-73 with just over a minute to play, Kelly drained a long 3-point shot to cut the deficit to one.

After a defensive stop, Kelly followed his huge 3-pointer with a basket to give the Jackets a 78-77 lead with 23 seconds left, a floater down the lane.

“I knew we were down, and we needed a big spark so that three was big for us and that’s what I did,” Kelly said of his shot with Tech down four points. “I’ve always been a shooter, so I felt confident with any shot that I take, and I knew the defense, he wasn’t looking at me when Deebo (Coleman) had the ball. I was going to shoot, that’s what I did, and it went in.”

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Kelly’s awareness of the defender caught Georgia coach Mike White’s eye too as the coach confirmed “we had four men playing man and one in zone.” A lucky break for the Jackets that coincided with Kelly being good as well.

His game-winning floater was the second game-winner Kelly has on the season. He made the winning basket in Tech’s 59-57 win at Georgia State on Nov. 12.

“Miles has made big shots this year throughout the course of the year,” Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “He’s continued to get better. Look at the jump he’s made. There was a stretch last year where I don’t think he made a three during ACC play. I think he was shooting 12%. Think about the jump that he’s made from last year to this year.”

Pastner’s reference was to the start from Kelly in the 2021 season where he shot 3 of 20 on 3-point shots to begin the year and finished 48 of 118 on the year. Kelly has been much better so far this season, making 14 of his 38 threes in eight games.

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Hitting the game-winner wrapped up a strong second half from Kelly as he rebounded from a poor first half where he missed all five of his field-goal attempts.

He finished the game hitting 5 of 13 from the field while making 3 of 7 3-point attempts, scoring 17 points. The important part for Kelly was that he turned around the first half to make 5 of 8 second-half attempts and was 3-for-4 on his 3-point shots, along with making all four of his free throws in the second half.

“I got to the line early, so those four three throws got me going early, seeing the ball go in the basket,” he said. “I’m going to keep shooting no matter how many times I miss, I’ll keep shooting. That’s what the team wants me to do so that is what I’m going to do.”

Kelly’s shooting gave the Jackets (6-3) consecutive victories over the Bulldogs (7-3). The win was coach Pastner’s 100th at Georgia Tech and extended the team’s undefeated start (6-0) at home this season.

Georgia Tech 79, Georgia 77