No. 22 Virginia Tech seeks rebound vs. struggling Georgia Tech
A pair of teams searching for offense will meet on Wednesday when Georgia Tech travels to No. 22 Virginia Tech for a return match in their ACC series.
Both clubs are having trouble scoring points, but for totally different reasons.
Virginia Tech's offense was dealt a blow when All-ACC guard Justin Robinson injured his foot on Jan. 30 at Miami. Robinson, who is averaging 14.4 points and 5.4 assists, was on crutches Saturday when the Hokies lost at Clemson. The senior is out indefinitely, though it's unclear if he required surgery.
Georgia Tech has a clean bill of health. The Yellow Jackets just don't have a go-to offensive player this year since Josh Okogie left after his sophomore year for the NBA. Georgia Tech has failed to reach 60 points in its five-game losing streak and twice failed to reach 50.
Virginia Tech (18-5, 7-4 ACC) has lost two in a row, falling to No. 16 Louisville and at Clemson. But the Hokies have lost only once at home all season. Georgia Tech (11-13, 3-8 ACC) is 2-6 on the road.
Virginia Tech won the first meeting between the two teams, 52-49 in Atlanta on Jan. 9.
The Hokies are 1-2 since Robinson was injured, but guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker said his team must quit whining and regain its focus.
"We're going to find a way," Alexander-Walker said. "J-Rob is a great player, but I'm not going to sit here and just be like, 'Damn, we don't have J-Rob' every play. We've lost players before. From the beginning of the season, we've been losing players, so I'm not going to sit in the corner and cry about it. I'm just going to be a man and try to win games and compete with what we have on the floor."
Alexander-Walker, a sophomore guard, leads the team with 17.3 points and adds 4.3 rebounds per game. Other top scorers on the team are forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. (13.3 points, team-high 6.7 rebounds) and guard Ahmed Hill (13 points). Hill scored 15 and Blackshear 14 to lead the Hokies in the first meeting with Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech guard Jose Alvardo led the Yellow Jackets in scoring with 20 points in the first meeting, but the sophomore is mired in a deep slump. He's 3-for-30 from the field over the last three games and 8-for-49 over the last five, and his team-leading average is down to 11.7 points.
The Yellow Jackets have lately abandoned the 3-point shot, although freshman guard Michael Devoe dropped four treys on Sunday against Notre Dame en route to a season-high 18. Georgia Tech has instead been pounding the ball inside to 6-foot-8 junior James Banks III (10.4 points, 7.5 rebounds) and 6-9 senior Abdoulaye Gueye (7.4 points, 4.1 rebounds).
"We play great defense, we just can't score the ball right now," Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. "There's just a lid on the rim. Been as draining as can be. Until that lid removes itself, it's going to be a struggle. We just have to find a way to score some points."
The scoring woes have overshadowed Georgia Tech's excellent defensive effort. The Yellow Jacket are tied for No. 12 in the nation in field-goal defense (38.9 percent), No. 7 in the nation in 3-point defense (27.7) and No. 25 in scoring defense (64.0).
Virginia Tech's defense is equally exceptional. The Hokies are tied for No. 26 in field-goal defense (40.2) and No. 7 in scoring defense (60.8).
--Field Level Media
Updated February 12, 2019