ATLANTA- After a long and hard season of near upsets of major teams, Georgia Tech got over the hump knocking off #5 Louisville on Wednesday night 64-58. The Jackets hit the Cardinals one of the better shooting teams in the league to just three-for-24 from the three-point line and 33.9-percent shooting on the night in the win. Tech led the entire game with Louisville getting the lead to one at times, but the Jackets never relinquished it.
“Louisville is good enough to win the national championship,” Jackets’ head coach Josh Pastner said after the game. “They are really good and I am a big fan of coach Mack; he is one of the best coaches in the game and on top of that he is a really good guy. It would not surprise me if they were here in Atlanta in April and possibly cutting down the nets. Regarding us, it is a great win. We led the entire game and we had a good start.
Pastner credited his defense and his plucky starting lineup for the win. The Tech bench provided just two points from Bubba Parham in the win.
“The bottom line is we defended at a high-level. Louisville is one of the best offensive teams in the country. We held them to 33 percent from the field and 12 percent from three. Yes, we had some turnovers but we scored well and in key times. We got a cushion early and got a lead. James Banks hit some big baskets. Moses Wright’s shot-block, to think of where he came from as a freshman to where he is now. He scored a huge basket in the high post. Jordan Usher gave us great minutes and played well as a basketball player. He has a great motor and made some great motor plays. Jose [Alvarado] had some great plays; we are what Jose is when he is playing at a high-level with his toughness and warrior mentality. He is the head of our snake and his actions speak for themselves. Michael Devoe hit some big free throws late and hit a three to put us up seven. This was a big win for the program and I am very happy for our young men and for Georgia Tech, it was a great win for the fans and I am really excited to beat a team that is good enough to win the national championship,” he said.
Eschewing his normal hybrid zone defense, Pastner again put Jose Alvarado on the taller Jordan Nwora and asked his players to go man-to-man the entire game. Nwora a top NBA prospect was one-for-six shooting in 24 minutes and 0-4 from three.
“They put a 5-foot-11, 6-foot tough kid on him. We run post-up plays and Jordan [Nwora] can’t figure out how to be tough enough to hold a guy off of him and lay the ball in,” Mack said.
Pastner gave credit for to the players and his assistants for the game plan and execution.
“Our assistant coaches were incredible with their game planning. They deserve all credit on that and have done a great job on our player development. The players get the credit for executing that game plan. For four years we have been a very good defensive team. We have always been good defensively. It is effort and toughness based,” he said. We had two sets of three stops defensively in a row late and that is what got us the win. To guard them like we did tonight if you look at our numbers we have been playing better offensively and scoring better. Everyone here knows we scrapped our offense mid-year. It has been the best thing for us.”
Louisville struggled all night from the arc but David Johnson and Ryan McMahon hit back-to-back threes to cut the Georgia Tech lead to one with 4:32 left in the game. Mike Devoe converted an old-fashioned three-point play off a Tech timeout to go back up four, but James Banks fouled out with 3:57 left. Louisville got it to 53-51 on a layup by Dwayne Sutton with under three minutes left. Moses Wright blocked a Louisville shot and then after a video review to see if it was goaltending, he was able to score at the hoop to give Tech a 55-51 lead with under a minute to go. Tech grabbed the missed Louisville shot attempted, but Mike Devoe turned the ball over and David Johnson hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 55-53 with 34 seconds left. Alvarado went to the line up two and hit both free throws to put the Jackets up four. David Johnson then got a layup and a foul to cut it to one. Alvarado went back to the line and hit both again. Johnson again got a layup and Jordan Usher went to the line up 59-58 and missed one of his two. GT led 60-58 with under 13 to go. Lamarr Kimble turned it over and Mike Devoe picked up the steal and sunk two free throws to give the Jackets the win.
“I just wanted to seal the game. It was a great team win for us and I played badly in the first half but learned a lot,” Devoe said.
All five Tech starters reached double figures for the first time this season with Alvarado leading the way with 18 points, Wright had 12 while Usher and Devone each added 11 while Banks had 10 to round things out. Parham had two points off the bench.
Tech held the lead throughout the second half but foul trouble became an issue with under 9 minutes to go and the Jackets leading by four. James Banks and Jordan Usher each had four fouls. Moses Wright and Jose Alvarado each had three fouls. Mike Devoe hit his first field goal of the game a three with 8 minutes to go
Georgia Tech led 31-26 at the half in an ugly opening to the game. The Jackets shot 44.4-percent but just 57.1-percent from the free-throw line at the half with leading scorer Mike Devoe going 0-4 from the field with three turnovers and four assists. Jose Alvarado led the Jackets with 11 points at the half. Malik Williams led the Cardinals with 9 points in the first half. GT led by as much as 11 midway through the first half.
“On our end of the floor, we didn’t start the game with the proper mindset, the right energy, the right toughness level that’s required to win on the road. We’ve talked about it a lot: If you set the tone the wrong way and the other team has a lot of positive momentum to start the game, they’re going to feed off that. That’s exactly what they did. We fought uphill the entire game from what I thought was a lack of energy and readiness on our part,” Cardinals coach Chris Mack said.
Louisville struggled shooting just 34.8-percent from the field and hit just one of their seven threes in the first half. Alvarado missed about six minutes of the first half for Tech with foul trouble as well.
This was Tech’s first win over a top 5 team since January 9th, 2016 when they beat Virginia and the first top 10 win since January 25, 2017, against #6 Florida State.
The Jackets have the weekend off with their lone bye in ACC play before returning to the road next week for a pair against Wake Forest on Wednesday and then Syracuse on Saturday.