North Carolina vs Georgia Tech, 12:00 PM, ACC Network
After the crushing loss to Duke on Wednesday night, the popular question regarding is how the Tar Heels will bounce back or whether this team can recover from another failure to close out a big win. That is actually the wrong question for this game. The right question is can UNC carry over the play from Wednesday night into this game and the rest of the season?
Lost in the manner the Tar Heels fell to Duke on Wednesday is the fact the Tar Heels played some high level basketball once they got over the Blue Devils' initial shock and awe. Fighting back from down 13 in the first half to eventually take a 10 point lead with under four minutes left was a product of toughness and outstanding execution. With the exception of Marcus Paige, who had one of his worst offensive games of the season and Justin Jackson who seemed a little intimidated, UNC played well. Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson combined for 36 points, J.P. Tokoto played perhaps his best game of the season and the Tar Heels got significant contributions off the bench.
Talk of moral victories is generally eschewed but there were positives to take from Duke. Roy Williams said the season is a marathon so taking what the Tar Heels did well in Durham on Wednesday and carrying that forward affords UNC the opportunity to make deep runs in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments. If Marcus Paige can return to the level of play he reached over the first half of the ACC slate(or last season) UNC can finally round into form.
Obviously that needs to start today versus a Georgia Tech team that is more snake bitten in close games than UNC. The Yellow Jackets are 3-11 in ACC play with the following losses:
Notre Dame by seven in double overtime
Syracuse by one
Wake Forest by seven
Notre Dame by three
Pittsburgh by five
Boston College by two
NC State by one in overtime on a buzzer beater by Trevor Lacey
Duke by six in Durham
Virginia Tech by two
FSU by four
Ten of Georgia Tech's ACC losses have been by an average of 3.8 points. Six of those losses have been by one possession or in overtime.
Marcus Georges-Hunt leads Georgia Tech with 13.8 ppg and is the Yellow Jacket's best scoring option. However the match-ups to watch are on the interior with Maryland transfer Charles Mitchell, senior forwards Demarco Cox and Robert Sampson. The trio combined for over 18 rebounds per game and have solid individual rebounding rates making UNC's ability to control the boards a tough task.
What this game should be is UNC taking out the loss on Georgia Tech in dominating fashion. The reality is no one knows for sure what you will ever get from this UNC team and the Jackets aren't a team that's been dominated in ACC play. Still, if there is carry over in the quality of play, the Tar Heels will make short work of the Yellow Jackets.
UNC 84 Georgia Tech 64