ATLANTA -- For a team that has only one starter back from last year, Georgia Tech continues to show signs that it’s very close to doing some nice things. The Yellow Jackets have become more consistent and appear to be better prepared for the rigors of the ACC schedule.
More will be known after Wednesday night, when Syracuse comes to McCamish Pavilion for its first appearance as a member of the ACC. A year ago, the Yellow Jackets stunned the Orange 67-62 at the Carrier Dome.
“It is a team that is evolving and growing. I like the process we’re under,” Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said.
Georgia Tech’s lone returning starter is junior Marcus Georges-Hunt, who has shown up big in the past two games. He has scored in double figures in five straight games and has topped 20 in the past two games, scoring 24 against Charlotte and 20 against Notre Dame. He needs only five points to reach 900 for his career and could this season become the 43rd Georgia Tech player to reach the 1,000-point milestone.
“Having a guy as steady as Marcus has helped,” Gregory said. “The last two games, the assertiveness and aggressiveness and command he’s played with has been good to see. That anchor, that rock, has been beneficial.”
Although Syracuse might have dropped a notch from the team that spent three weeks at No. 1 a year ago, it remains one of the sport’s iconic programs. Head coach Jim Boeheim’s team remains one of the nation’s best defensive teams, holding opponents to 58.4 points and 37.4 percent shooting from the field.
Georgia Tech (9-4, 0-1 ACC) played well against Notre Dame but came up short in double-overtime against the No. 14-ranked Fighting Irish.
“We did some good things against a good Notre Dame team,” Gregory said. “Need to play a little bit better. I like our guys, like the way they play and like their competitive level. Obviously we’ve got a great test against one of nation’s best programs in Syracuse on Wednesday. We’ve got to have a short memory. Got to move on and get ready for Wednesday night.”
Georgia Tech led Notre Dame 31-27 at the half, and the Yellow Jackets were boosted by the play of Demarco Cox, who was limited to 17 minutes against Charlotte because of a bruised thigh, and Chris Bolden, who has started the past two games.
Bolden is needed for his scoring touch, and the junior might have found something. He scored eight points against Charlotte and had a season-high 14 against Notre Dame, hitting 5-of-9 from the floor.
Syracuse (10-4, 1-0) survived for a 68-66 road win against Virginia Tech on Saturday. The Orange are 2-3 away from home and will be playing on the Georgia Tech campus for the first time. Boeheim, in his 39th season, has a strong corps of inside players, including 6-foot-9 senior Rakeem Christmas (17.3 points, 8.9 rebounds) and 6-10 freshman Chris McCullough (10.1 points, 7.5 rebounds). Christmas has scored in double figures in 13 of 14 games and is trying to become the first center to lead the team in scoring since 2000.
“They’re the longest and most explosive group of post players we’ve seen this year,” Gregory said. “In terms of length, versatility and diversity to score in different ways, Syracuse poses the greatest problems.”