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What UVA Basketball fans need to remember about Georgia Tech

reece beekman uva gt
Reece Beekman drives to the hoop in the first half of Virginia’s win over Georgia Tech. Photo courtesy Atlantic Coast Conference.

What you might remember about Virginia’s 64-62 win over Georgia Tech from a couple of weeks back is Jose Alvarado’s air guitar riff in front of the UVA bench.

Alvarado had just hit a three over Jay Huff, who had gotten caught up on the 6’0” senior on a screen, that put the Yellow Jackets up 54-45 with 10 minutes to play.

At that point, Alvarado had 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, from an endless variety of angles – eating Kihei Clark alive, the extra attention opening up teammates for good looks, on his way to eight assists.

The air guitar seemed to get the attention of the Cavaliers, who took control with a 16-2 run, holding Alvarado scoreless the rest of the way, on their way to a 64-62 win.

Georgia Tech (9-6, 5-4 ACC) is maybe the best team in Power 5 that wouldn’t get a sniff from the tournament selection committee if the season were to end today.

The Jackets’ NET ranking is 62, with a 1-4 record against Q1 teams, 4-0 against Q2.

Wednesday’s game in Atlanta, then, is a chance to make a splash, getting a Q1 win, ahead of a favorable closing stretch – Tech finishes out with its toughest games being at Clemson and Virginia Tech, home games with Pitt, Syracuse and Duke, and very winnable games with Boston College, Miami and Wake Forest.

As long as Alvarado can avoid a premature celebration, maybe, just maybe, this one could be a springboard.

Breakdown: offense

Efficiency numbers from Synergy Sports.

Spot-ups: 29.7 percent of offensive possessions

In the Jan. 23 game, Georgia Tech played to its season average – using spot-ups on 18 of its 61 possessions (29.5%).

Who to watch for: Alvarado (23-of-50, 46.0%, 1.231 PPP), Bubba Parham (19-of-47, 40.4%, 1.192 PPP), Michael Devoe (25-of-63, 39.7%, 0.973 PPP).

Transition: 20.2 percent of offensive possessions

In the first half of the Jan. 23 game, the Jackets pushed pace, aided by a run of UVA live-ball turnovers, but ‘Hoos coach Tony Bennett made a strategic adjustment at halftime to get more ball pressure on Alvarado and Parham, and Tech had one transition bucket in the final 15:57.

Still, Georgia Tech had 18 transition points on the night, with Jordan Usher getting 11 of his 19 in transition.

Who to watch for: Usher (26-of-33, 78.8%, 1.564 PPP), Alvarado (32-of-51, 62.7%, 1.349 PPP), Devoe (25-of-44, 56.8%, 1.296 PPP), Kyle Sturdivant (11-of-18, 61.1%, 1.238 PPP), Moses Wright (11-of-17, 64.7%, 1.217 PPP).

Inside game (post-ups, lane cuts and stickbacks): 17.7 percent of the offensive possessions

Georgia Tech scored 26 points in the paint, shooting 11-of-18 on shots at the rim, in the loss in JPJ. But Wright, the team’s most productive post guy, needed 17 shots to get his 13 points.

Who to watch for: Wright (18-of-33, 54.5%, 1.205 PPP on lane cuts, 16-of-37, 43.2%, 0.907 PPP on post-ups, 13-of-20, 65.0%, 1.167 on offensive stickbacks).

Pick-and-rolls: 13.2 percent of offensive possessions

Interesting here, for a team that doesn’t use P&Rs a lot: that they did in the first matchup. Synergy had Georgia Tech going P&R on 19 of its 61 possessions in the Jan. 23 game – a 31.1 percent usage rate.

Who to watch for: Alvarado (13-of-26, 50.0%, 0.756 PPP, 15 TOs in 45 P&R ball-handler possessions), Wright (15-of-25, 60.0%, 1.233 PPP on 30 possessions as the roll guy on the back end of P&Rs).

Breakdown: defense

Synergy rates Parham (0.778 PPP) as Tech’s best perimeter defender, with Alvarado (0.783) and Devoe (0.794) in the same general area defensively.

Usher, a slightly undersized four, at 6’7”, 213,  and Wright, the 6’9” five, are the weak points – Usher rating average (0.903 PPP) and Wright below average (0.970 PPP).

Maybe not surprising, when you see that, that the bulk of the damage done by UVA on the offensive end was from Sam Hauser (22 points, 9-of-12 shooting, 4-of-5 from three) and Huff (18 points, 7-of-11 shooting, 2-of-3 from three.

Analysis

Expect to see Bennett emphasize ball pressure from Clark and Reece Beekman from the outset, to keep Alvarado and Parham from getting the ball into the frontcourt for quick looks in transition.

A key there will be limiting live-ball turnovers on the offensive end.

I’d expect to see Beekman with the assignment on Alvarado, to try to bother Alvarado (6’0”) with Beekman’s size (6’3”, vs. Clark’s 5’9”).

On the offensive end, maybe you see less mover-blocker and more five-high with Huff drawing Wright out of the lane, and triangle looks with Huff at the top and Hauser in the post using his size and shooting touch on Usher.

At a glance

  • Offense: Georgia Tech 111.7 (36), Virginia 116.6 (9)
  • Defense: Georgia Tech 97.0 (89), Virginia 91.8 (25)
  • Tempo: Georgia Tech 67.4 (232), Virginia 59.8 (357)

Efficiency data from KenPom.com

Details

#9 Virginia (13-3, 9-1 ACC) at Georgia Tech (9-6, 5-4 ACC)
Wednesday, 7 p.m., RSN

  • ESPN BPI: Virginia +6.9, 77.4% win probability
  • KenPom.com: Virginia 66-62, 64% win probability
  • BartTorvik: Virginia 65-62, 64% win probability

Story by Chris Graham


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