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Preview: What Virginia Basketball fans need to know about Georgia Tech

Chris Graham
uva reece beekman virginia tech
Reece Beekman. Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

Georgia Tech, which hosts Virginia on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, ACCN), is a game over .500, with a loss at home to UMass Lowell, a three-point win over Howard, a recent five-game losing streak.

And a win over Duke.

And the W that broke the losing skid, a two-OT win at Clemson earlier this week.

You might expect this hot and cold nature from a team in the first year under a new head coach, Damon Stoudamire, whose rotation includes three transfers and two freshmen.

And aside from the early stretch that included the near-miss with Howard and the loss to UMass Lowell, Stoudamire’s new group has played well together, and has been competitive even in its losses.

Case in point: that recent five-game losing streak included an OT loss at Boston College and a five-point loss at home to Duke, which is obviously happy to not have to see the Jackets again for a while.

And then the win at Clemson showed grit: Tech trailed by nine with 1:43 to go, and the computers gave the Tigers a 99.3 percent win probability at that stage, before the Yellow Jackets rallied to force OT.

Rotation

The leading scorer is 6’6” junior Miles Kelly (15.5 ppg, 6.2 rebounds/g, 35.8% FG, 28.0% 3FG).

I had to do a double-take at the shooting numbers – he’s also 68.8 percent at the line, on 4.7 attempts per game.

Kelly is a volume shooter (14.5 attempts per game).

Not very efficient there.

6’9” freshman center Baye Ndongo (12.7 ppg, 8.9 rebounds/g, 59.8% FG) is efficient, though he can be foul-prone – he fouled out of the Clemson game, one of three times that he has fouled out this season, all in the last seven games.

In three of the other four games in that seven-game stretch, Ndongo has had four fouls.

Kowacie Reeves, a 6’7” Florida transfer, is the other double-digit scorer (12.2 ppg, 45.9% FG, 41.9% 3FG).

Stoudamire’s Jackets go big – the only two guys under 6’6” in the rotation are 6’3” guards Nathan George (8.9 ppg, 4.7 assists/g, 42.7% FG, 28.0% 3FG) and Kyle Sturdivant (7.8 ppg, 3.1 assists/g, 43.1% FG, 34.2% 3FG).

6’11” NC State transfer Ebenezer Dowuona (1.3 ppg, 1.5 rebounds/g) has started nine games, but he can be like Jack Salt, just out there for the opening stretch and then done for the night – he averages 9.7 minutes per game.

6’7” Western Carolina transfer Tyzhaun Claude (5.1 ppg, 5.1 rebounds/g, 48.4% FG) and 6’6” homegrown junior Dallan Coleman (7.5 ppg, 42.7% FG, 36.8% 3FG) should each get big minutes on Saturday.

How Virginia matches up

uva jordan minor virginia tech
Jordan Minor. Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

Jordan Minor, the revelation from the 65-57 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday, should get the start to body up in the paint with Ndongo.

I am a smidge concerned that Minor left the floor with a slight limp with 4:08 to go, got checked by a trainer, then didn’t check back in thereafter.

Hopefully, he’s OK and a go for Saturday night.

The matchup with Kelly and UVA senior guard Reece Beekman (12.9 ppg, 5.8 assists/g, 46.4% FG, 31.3% 3FG) should be a fun watch, though Tony Bennett has Georgetown transfer Dante Harris (3.7 ppg, 1.9 assists/g) back to use to spell Beekman so that his star doesn’t have to go 30+ minutes against the toughest backcourt opponent.

Ryan Dunn (9.5 ppg, 6.6 rebounds/g, 2.0 blocks/g, 2.0 steals/g) will match up for long stretches with Reeves.

You’d sure like to see Dunn do more on offense – he had a total of eight shots from the field over 49 minutes of playing time in Virginia’s last two games.

In his previous three, Dunn had averaged 14.7 points per game on 20-of-26 (76.9%) shooting.

One other guy you want to see be on the up side of up-and-down: Isaac McKneely.

iMac has had eight points in each of his last two, on 5-of-18 (27.8%) shooting, after scoring 18 each in his previous two (13-of-24 FG, 8-of-14 3FG).

McKneely is quite the statistical enigma: averaging 11.4 points per game on the season, but he’s only scored in double figures six times in his 16 outings.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].