Scoring droughts plague Georgia Tech in loss to Syracuse

Georgia Tech’s fortunes were going well for most of the first half Saturday, then a drought hit, and the Yellow Jackets never recovered.

The Jackets held a 21-10 lead with a little more than 12 minutes to play in the first half before Syracuse went on a 23-4 run while building a 40-33 halftime lead, and the Orange ended the day with an 80-63 victory at McCamish Pavilion.

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Syracuse (13-7, 6-3 ACC) made 58.6% of its shots (17-of-29) from the field in the second half, 55.4% for the game. The Orange made 4 of 7 3-point shots in the first half and 6 of 14 for the game. Tech (8-11, 1-8) shot 53.8% from the field in the first half but only 34.4% for the game. The Jackets endured a second-half scoring drought of more than 3-1/2 minutes.

“We haven’t been able to maintain the 40 minutes,” Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “Whether it’s the end of the first half, start of the second half, there’s been a stretch where we just struggled.”

After making two of 21 3-point shots (9.5%) Tuesday night in a 78-66 loss to N.C. State, Tech made 10 of 31 (32.3%) on Saturday. Half of Tech’s made 3-point shots came from Deebo Coleman (5 of 8). The rest of the team made 5 of 23. Overall, Coleman scored 17 points.

The Jackets attempted only six free throws, making three. Jalon Moore took all six shots as he scored 11 points to go with five rebounds. Miles Kelly scored 13 points, but he was only 3-of-11 from 3-point range.

“When we got the ball in the middle, we really needed Jalon to play at a high level today,” Pastner said. “I thought early he started out well, then as the game progressed, maybe the foul trouble (Moore was called for four fouls), or whatever, we didn’t get as much from him.

“I have total confidence in him in the middle there and his ability to make the right decisions. There were some other times where our guards did not get the ball to the middle when the middle was open. We were holding it too much.”

Syracuse was led by Joseph Girard, who scored 28 points, with seven assists and five rebounds. Maliq Brown added 18 points. Syracuse out-rebounded Tech 33-28 and committed only eight turnovers to Tech’s 16.

“I love that we had 20 assists on 25 made field goals,” Pastner said. “That’s an outstanding stat, but 16 turnovers is too much.”

Tech failed to reach 70 points for the 12th time this season, and the Jackets are 2-10 in those games. They are 6-1 when scoring 70 or more.

“It’s really hard to win in (the ACC) if you don’t get to 70 (points),” Tech coach Josh Pastner said earlier this week. He brought up the subject again postgame Saturday.

“We got to get to 70, and today we’re at 63. And a lot of that was because of turnovers and some of those turnovers in the midsection of the first half (was) because we were trying to thread the needle and playing such a tight margin (instead of shooting).”

Next for Tech is a game at Clemson at 9 p.m. Tuesday.