Thursday, December 5, 2019

Georgia Tech 73, Nebraska 56: Yellow Jackets buzz through the Cornhuskers

Photo Credit: Atlanta-Journal Constitution

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

ATLANTA— In front of an underwhelming McCamish Pavilion crowd, the Nebraska Cornhuskers (4-4) went to battle with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-2, 1-0 ACC) in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. After a tightly contested first half of action, the Yellow Jackets pulled away on their home floor, coasting to a 73-56 victory. 

With the victory, Georgia Tech improves to 8-11 all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, including a 6-3 record at home. Nebraska falls to 5-4 in the challenge since joining the Big Ten in the 2011-2012 season. 

After a back and forth first half, the Yellow Jackets ended the half on a 10-2 run, with Nebraska’s lone bucket coming with three seconds left. Michael Devoe led all scorers at the break with 11 points. Thus far, Devoe is the ACC’s leading scorer, averaging 23.4 points per game. 

In the first 20 minutes of play, Nebraska turned the ball over 12 times— exceeding its average of 11.9 turnovers per game. The Cornhuskers finished the game with 18 turnovers, exceeding their previous single-game high of 15 this season.

“One thing we’ve been good at is defense. This year, that’s a thing that’s been a constant… It’s the one thing that we can control because that’s an effort. Defense is about how hard you stunt, multiple efforts, you know, multiple plays during a possession. You’re flying around like your hair is on fire type of mentality defensively. It’s a motor. You can’t be good defensively if you’re cool, casual or cute,” said Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner. Defensively, you just got to muck it up and have kind of a grimy type of mentality and we do that. That’s our identity. We need to carry that over on the offensive end. I’m not cool, I’m not casual, and I’m definitely not cute.”

At the 16-minute media timeout, Georgia Tech built an 11-point lead to set the tone for the second half. After jumping out to a hot start after the break, the Yellow Jackets never looked back.

As a team, the Cornhuskers struggled to get anything going in the second half, shooting 25 percent from the floor. The shooting woes continued from behind the arc as Nebraska connected on just six of 26 tries from deep.

“We’ve actually been shooting the ball very well as of late. [In our] last four games, we’re almost 45 percent and making over nine per game,” said Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg. “[We] didn’t get off to a good start knocking down shorts.”

Nebraska’s senior guard Haanif Cheatham notched the first double-double of his career with 14 points and 11 rebounds, both of which were team-highs. Cam Mack, Jervay Green, and Thorir Thorbjarnarson paced Nebraska with 11 points each.

Coming into Wednesday’s contest, Georgia Tech led all NCAA Division I programs, averaging 8.0 blocks per game. The Yellow Jackets matched their average, sending away eight Cornhuskers shots throughout the contest. The nation’s leading shot-blocker, James Banks III swatted a pair of shots, down significantly from his average of 5.2 per game. 

Devoe led all scorers with 26 points, and also dished out seven assists and hauled in six rebounds for the Yellow Jackets. The only other Yellow Jacket to score in double-figures was Moses Wright who had 18 points, to go along with nine rebounds.

Up Next:

Georgia Tech wraps up a four-game homestand on Saturday against Syracuse at Noon ET when the Orange come to McCamish Pavilion, the game will be aired on the ACC Network. The Cornhuskers travel to Omaha on Saturday to take on Creighton University at 1:30 PM. The in-state battle will be televised on the Big Ten Network.