ATLANTA -- It’s too bad there isn’t a statistical category for coming close. Georgia Tech would be leading the ACC.
The Yellow Jackets again played just well enough Wednesday to lose, this time an ugly 46-45 decision to Syracuse at McCamish Pavilion. The loss, on the heels of Saturday’s double-overtime loss to Notre Dame, dropped Georgia Tech to 9-5 overall and 0-2 in the ACC.
“The formula has put us in position, and now we have to take another step,” Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said.
Once again it was the lack of shooting that doomed the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech shot a season-worst 26.3 percent from the floor, including 17.6 percent on 3-pointers.
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Chris Bolden, who was 1-for-8 on 3-pointers, was the player who wound up taking the potential game-winning shot after the Yellow Jackets started their final possession with 6.3 seconds remaining. His shot from the top of the circle bounced off the rim and fell into the arms of teammate Quinton Stephens, who was unable to control the rebound and get a shot off at the buzzer.
Syracuse wasn’t much better from the floor than Georgia Tech. The Orange shot just 34.6 percent, which left head coach Jim Boeheim almost without an explanation after the game.
“That was without a doubt the worst offensive game I’ve ever seen,” Boeheim said. “I can’t even describe it. ... They’re a very good defensive team, and we’re a very good defensive team, or they’re a bad offensive team, and we’re a bad offensive team. Take your pick.”
Part of the reason for Georgia Tech’s lack of success from the floor was Syracuse’s zone defense. But the Yellow Jackets were equally bad offensively across the board. In addition to Bolden, the struggles struck Marcus Georges-Hunt (2-for-8), Tadric Jackson (1-for-5) and Demarco Cox, who missed eight of his 10 shots in the paint.
Georgia Tech was able to stay close because forward Charles Mitchell played well. The junior scored 17 points, going 5-for-10 from the floor, with 11 rebounds. He was the only Yellow Jackets player in double figures.
“Unfortunately, we were not able to make enough plays in the last eight minutes against their zone,” Gregory said.
Georges-Hunt said, “A lot of games we play end up coming down to the last eight minutes. It’s about making the right play and executing. Losing back-to-back games stinks, but you can’t dwell on it. You have to learn from it and get ready for Saturday.”
Syracuse (11-4, 2-0 ACC) got 18 points from Rakeem Christmas, including a pair of free throws with 12.4 seconds that put his team ahead. Syracuse then gave a foul with 6.3 seconds left. Georgia Tech called the final play to go to Georges-Hunt, but he was swamped by defenders and kicked the ball over to Bolden for the final shot.
“We were just playing the percentages that they weren’t going to make the shot because they hadn’t made any,” Boeheim said. “If they make a 3 there, it’s just one of those things.”