The No 16. Florida State Seminoles (10-3, 6-2 ACC) experienced their first loss of the new year with a 76-65 loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-5, 4-3 ACC). The Seminoles didn’t have an answer to Georgia Tech’s high-pressure defense which resulted in a season-high 19 turnovers for FSU. A second-half shooting onslaught for the Yellow Jackets expanded their lead and kept the ‘Noles at bay.
Florida State looked a little messy in the first few minutes of the game but Balsa Kopravica pulled down 5 of the first 8 available rebounds, allowing the ‘Noles to come out to a 2 point lead at the U 16 timeout.
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets started their first possession in a matchup zone but quickly settled into their high-pressure man defense. That defense allowed a few transition opportunities as they forced 3 early turnovers. Point guard Jose Alvarado came out hot collecting 9 of their first 11 points.
After the U 16 timeout, the Yellow Jackets looked to their zone defense to help stifle the FSU offense. It wasn’t very effective. The ‘Noles continued grinding offensively to a 4 point lead behind their depth. Eight players ended up getting their first points before anyone scored a second time.
Both teams struggled early to find their stroke from behind the 3 point line. The Jackets were 2-8 with 11:28 left in the first half while the ‘Noles were scoreless from 3 point land- missing their first 3 attempts.
Nathanael Jack hit the first three of the game for Florida State at the 11-minute mark to expand the lead to the largest of the game at 6. Sloppy offensive play after that allowed Tech to crawl back into the game and tie it with the chance to take the lead with free throws after the U 12 timeout. So far Florida State is playing Georgia Tech’s game. They are allowing the pace to speed them up offensively which has led to 7 turnovers in the first quarter of the game.
M.J. Walker broke the ‘Noles 5 minute scoring drought with a 3 pointer off an elevator screen with just under 6 minutes to go in the half.
After the U 4 timeout, the ‘Noles came out with something to prove defensively. They caused turnovers in each of the first two possessions out of the break. The first of which led to a nice transition dunk from Sardaar Calhoun.
However, Florida State’s offense continued to struggle in the waning minutes of the first half which allowed Tech to surge to a 7 point lead at the half.
The story of the first half was Tech’s defense. Not only have they kept FSU off of the 3 point line, limiting them to just 8 attempts, but they also caused 11 turnovers which led to many of their offensive opportunities.
The first points of the second half came after nearly 4 minutes had elapsed off the clock. Mike Devoe hit a 3 pointer which expanded Tech’s lead to 10 at 36-26. The ‘Noles responded with a little run of their own and cut the lead back down to 4 in their first possession after the U 16 timeout.
RaiQuan Gray came out strong for the ‘Noles offensively. Stationed at the low post against the Jacket’s zone he was able to get a few good looks early in the second half. He picked up 7 of FSU’s first 9 points coming out of the break.
Ultimately FSU struggled to keep up with the pace that GT was setting offensively. Devoe found his stroke from beyond the arc, and Alvarado’s pace helped GT restore its lead to 9 going into the U 12 timeout.
The foul calls began rolling in for both sides. A few free throws allowed Tech to expand their lead to 11.
The ‘Noles began to find some offensive success inside but that paled in comparison to the continued offensive success that GT found. Moses Wright began showing the ‘Noles why he’s one of the better players in the ACC and a few made threes continued expanding the lead for the Jackets.
The Jacket’s leader Jose Alvarado picked up his third foul with 8:48 in the game after a hard drive by MJ Walker.
Some hard defense by Scottie Barnes led to a steal and transition basket for Walker. With a little momentum, the ‘Noles pressed the pace and cut the lead to 7 going into the U 8 timeout.
A series of defensive mishaps led to Walker fouling out with 6:57 left in the game. Georgia Tech continued to attack keeping their lead to around 10 points for a good portion of the second half.
Gray continued to be FSU’s only offensive option, but Wyatt Wilkes helped him out a bit with a 3 to cut the lead to 7 with 5 minutes left in the game.
FSU could never catch the Yellow Jackets. Sloppy turnovers destroyed any momentum they found. Georgia Tech coasted for the last few minutes to a 76-65 victory over the Seminoles.