ATLANTA -- In what has become an old, tedious storyline, the Georgia Tech basketball team once again played toe to toe with a nationally ranked team, only to find a way to come up short.
This time, it was No. 12 Louisville, which overcame a 13-point second-half deficit and then with a 52-51 win Monday over the Yellow Jackets at McCamish Pavilion.
“I thought we did a good job for most of the game and (Louisville) played down the stretch,” Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said. “They hit some big 3s, we had some defensive lapses at the end. I’m disappointed with the result. That’s a tough one to swallow again.”
Georgia Tech was led by Marcus Georges-Hunt, who had 13 points, five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal. But he also turned it over six times and made only 3-of-8 from the line.
Never miss a local story.
“We ask a lot of Marcus to be the go-to guy for us,” Gregory said. “Against this team, he had to handle the ball a lot, make shots, and on the other end defend their best player in (Terry) Rozier. He’s challenged quite a bit in every area, but he kept coming back.”
Georgia Tech (12-16, 3-13 ACC) also got 11 points and 11 rebounds from Demarco Cox, his second double-double this season. Charles Mitchell had 14 rebounds, which matched his season high.
Louisville (22-6, 10-5) was led by Rozier, who scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half. Rozier had three 3-pointers in the final eight minutes to spark the Louisville comeback.
“Rozier took the game over in the second half,” Gregory said. “That’s why they’re projecting him as a top-15 pick in the draft.”
Georgia Tech came out with a determined effort on defense, as did Louisville. It is the hallmark for both teams. The first half started slow, with neither team able to get the offense started.
Part of that could be attributed to the physical nature of the defenses, but both sides had trouble finding the range. With 11:03 left, the game was tied at 10 and the teams were 4-for-13 from the field.
Georgia Tech finally managed to break free from a tie at 14 by scoring on three consecutive slams. Forward Robert Sampson and guard Tadric Jackson went back to back with their slams, and center Demarco Cox added a third dunk after he grabbed a miss from Georges-Hunt and jammed it home.
Georgia Tech was able to deflect the backcourt pressure from Louisville and remain in front. The Yellow Jackets stretched the lead to 24-17, their biggest advantage of the half, when Jackson scored on a two-handed slam on a baseline drive with 35 seconds remaining.
Louisville shot just 25 percent (7-for-28) in the first half and was 0-for-6 on 3-pointers. The Cardinals also committed nine turnovers, which contributed to 12 fast-break points. The result was the fifth time this season, and the second straight game, that the Cardinals have scored fewer than 20 points in a half.
Louisville cut the lead to three with two quick baskets following the break, but Georgia Tech answered and stretched its lead to nine when Cox followed a missed shot with a basket. The Yellow Jackets continued to match the Cardinals basket for basket and retained a nine-point lead.
Georgia Tech wasn’t finished building the lead, completing a 7-1 run on a basket by Cox that pushed the lead to 13 points at 41-28 with 9:38 remaining.
That’s when Louisville started its comeback. The Cardinals answered with back-to-back 3-pointers from Rozier and guard Anton Gill. That led to a 14-2 run, with forward Wayne Blackshear’s trey making it 41-39 with 6:42 left.
Louisville finally tied it on a 3-pointers by Blackshear, which knotted the score at 46 with 1:35 remaining.
The Cardinals took the lead on a drive by Rozier with 59 seconds left, but Georges-Hunt scored to tie the game for about two seconds, as Rozier quickly answered with the bucket that put Louisville ahead to stay.
“They made timely 3s and got timely offensive rebounds in the second half, and unfortunately, we weren’t able to do the same,” Gregory said.
Louisville was playing without point guard Chris Jones, who was kicked off the team for threatening his girlfriend, according to a report from the school. Jones was the team’s floor leader and third-leading scorer (13.7 points). He had been suspended for a game last week against Syracuse, which Louisville lost.
Jones was reinstated for Saturday’s game and scored 17 points in a win over Miami.
Georgia Tech plays again Saturday at Clemson. The Yellow Jackets have their final home game next Tuesday against North Carolina.