Game Preview: at Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech is no team to be slept on. They may have lost two straight games, but they were both road games against Virginia and Duke. This will be a team hungry and desperate not to lose a 3rd straight and fall even farther down in the ACC standings.

Florida State is starting their 1st of 4 straight road games and will want to set the tone right. They have won 5 straight ACC games, all by an average of 18.6 PPG. The first matchup between these two teams ended in a 74-61 win for the ‘Noles, but this time it’s in Atlanta against a Yellow Jackets team that was starting to find their groove before last week.

This game will be at 4pm EST from the McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, GA live on the ACC Network .

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-5, 3-3) Breakdown

These games where Florida State has already played an opponent are so much easier on me, I can just plug my last articles from the previous matchup, update the stats, and go over what went well, and what can be improved upon.

So for the previous game, here is the GAME PREVIEW, where you can watch a couple of clips to see what they like to do, and the 3 GAME-CHANGING PLAYS, where we recap the game.

Georgia Tech’s main issue in the game was they couldn’t get their main players going. Jose Alvarado and Moses Wright average a combined 34.7 PPG on 24.5 shots per game. In the first game between these two teams, those two combined for 19 points on 12 shots and Wright fouled out. While that’s still an efficient statline, those two are guys that need to get shots for the whole team to be rolling.

This is also a really shallow team in terms of depth; only about 6-7 guys get consistent playing time. A guy like Bubba Parham, who usually plays about 32 minutes per game only played about 17 minutes in the first game due to his size. a 5’10” shooting guard is not going to get it done against FSU. They had to rely more on guys like Kyle Sturdivant and Khalid Moore, who are there more for their defense and their size to match up with others.

Michael Devoe has been incredibly hot and cold all season. He’s had 8 games with 12 or more points and 4 games with 5 points or less. He was GT’s only offensive production in the first game with 21 points, and it’ll be interesting to see if he’ll be able to bounce back from a combined 7 points in his last two games.

As tricky as their defense is, it’s actually not great at rotating. Once you get the ball moving against them, it’s pretty easy to generate open shots. They allow 51.9% adjustedFG% on spot-up shots, and are bottom-30 nationally in opponent 3PT% at 37.6%. Most teams shoot in the low 40% range against them, Florida State exceeded that by shooting 47.1% in the first game. What their defense is great at is generating turnovers and fastbreak chances. They’re 12th in the country with 9.1 SPG, and 11th in steal rate at 12.7%. Because of how often they change their defense, it can create a lot of confusion for an opposing team, so FSU is going to have to make smart decisions and stay a step ahead all day.

On offense, their man threat is in transition. Get this team open in the fastbreak and they’re deadly, scoring 1.229 PPP, top 5% in the nation. Solid in spot-up chances, bad in pick-and-rolls. They’ve got 4 guy who shoot better than 37% from 3, which makes a lot of them a tough cover, especially a guy like Jose Alvarado that is so slippery off of the dribble.

Stat Update, Team Stats PPG/RPG (ORBs/DRBs)/APG/SPG/BPG/ToPG/FPG      FG%/3PT%/FT%

GT Produces: 77.8/32.1 (24.2/7.9)/16.4/9.1/3.3/11.4/16.3

GT Allows: 72.0/34.9 (9.3/25.7)/14.6/5.8/2.7/15.7/15.9

Player Stats

#10 Jose Alvarado 18.1/3.5/4.3/2.7/0.1/2.2/2.7          54.3/44.1/86.7

#5 Moses Wright 16.6/7.1/2.4/1.8/1.4/1.3/2.8             50.6/41.2/67.9

#0 Michael Devoe 13.1/4.4/3.1/1.1/0.1/3.1/1.8             41.8/40.3/72.0

#4 Jordan Usher 11.3/4.8/2.7/1.4/1.0/2.1/2.8              51.0/38.1/63.6

#3 Bubba Parham 8.1/3.4/2.0/1.1/0.0/0.5/2.8            41.8/34.5/70.6

#12 Khalid Moore 5.3/3.4/0.7/1.0/0.5/0.7/1.0            39.1/29.2/62.5

#1 Kyle Sturdivant 3.5/1.3/1.1/0.2/0.1/0.8/1.1             41.7/27.3/75.0

#16 Florida State Seminoles (10-2, 6-1) Breakdown

This play is a great example of what Florida State is trying to do against Georgia Tech: do whatever it takes to keep Alvarado from getting the ball, and make Moses Wright work for any touch and shot he does get. Watch Scottie Barnes deny Alvarado from getting the ball all the way up to the logo near half court. If Moses Wright wants to isolate from the top of the key, FSU is 100% okay with that happening, they’ll trust Malik Osborne or Balsa Koprivica on that every time.

I don’t expect many gameplan changes from Florida State. They’ll need to communicate a little better on switches because there were a few times a guy got open from 3 because a lack of focus and communication. Clean that up, continue with the constant ball-pressure, and keep Alvarado from dictating the game, and you’ll take your chances with the rest.

Any time you go on a long road stand, you want to start it off on the right foot. With these next four games against GT, Boston College, Pitt, and Virginia Tech, there’s a chance for FSU to rack up some Quadrant 1 wins and build up their resume. Any road game against a team that is top-75 team in NET counts as a Q1 game. Georgia Tech currently sits 60th, Boston College 132nd (Q2, barely) Pitt 63rd, and Virginia Tech 42nd. If FSU can come out of this stretch 3-1 or even 4-0, they’ll be setting themselves up really well for a better seed in March. Of the games, I think Georgia Tech and Pitt are the most likely to be dropped. If GT gets hot from 3 and FSU can’t hit shots, they could very easily lose today. Playing at Pitt is always a challenge for Florida State. I don’t think Virginia Tech is that good, and I think our size will really give them issues. Boston College is…. Boston College.

MJ Walker is back home in Atlanta, and I expect for him to go for a big game. He has only played at Georgia Tech once, a game in 2019, and he really tried to light it up from 3 but just went 1/6 from deep and scored a total of 9 points on 9 shots. He’s a more mature player now and is able to pick and choose his spots, but he’s happy to be able to play in GA again.

Injury Report

Anthony Polite is likely out for another week. FSU could use him in this game too, they could use his shooting.

Projected Starters

Georgia Tech

G: Jose Alvarado

G: Bubba Parham

G: Michael Devoe

G: Jordan Usher

F: Moses Wright

Florida State

G: RayQuan Evans

G: MJ Walker

F: Wyatt Wilkes

F: RaiQuan Gray

C: Balsa Koprivica

Keys to the Game

3-Point Shooting

This is becoming a common theme against ACC teams. Georgia Tech is one of the worst 3-point defenses in the country and the worst in the conference. Any time you play a team that likes to run zone, like GT does, shooting the ball well from outside is vital.

On the flip side, Georgia Tech is 6-1 in games where they shoot above 33.3% from 3, with the lone loss being against a Virginia team that couldn’t miss and didn’t turn the ball over, yet it still came down to the wire. In games where GT shot 33.3% or less, they’re 1-4, with the lone win being in a game against Nebraska where they turned the Huskers over 16 times and was the only team to play GT this and shoot below 40% from the floor.

Reserves Need to Pay Well

Florida State’s depth has been much better over these last five games has been a big reason why they’ve been able to win so handily. Guys like Sardaar Calhoun, Wyatt Wilkes, Nate Jack, and Malik Osborne will need to be able to hit shots consistently. Calhoun in particular might be given more chances given the opportunities he’s had the last couple of games. If he continues getting extended minutes, he’ll need to be hitting his shots.

Smart Decision Making

Against a zone defense that is really good at forcing turnovers if you hesitate, Florida State will need to make smart decisions and be a step ahead of the zone defense as it rotates. They picked it apart in their first matchup which forced GT into a zone much earlier than they wanted. GT forced 18 or 19 turnovers in the four games before Virginia and are more than capable of turning those turnovers into quick points.

Game Prediction

Florida State is a 4-point favorite, with an over/under of 143.5.

I don’t expect FSU to dominate this game. If they do, FSU has to be considered the favorite in the league going forward. What I’m going into the game expecting is a tightly contested game where the depth of the Seminoles wears down Georgia Tech and come away with a 7-9 point win.

Give me the ‘Noles 75-67.

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