There are eight letters in the word “turnover” but Georgia Tech basketball coach Josh Pastner considers it a four-letter word and wants to see it expunged from the team’s vocabulary. If the Yellow Jackets don’t stop giving the ball away, a promising start to the ACC season is going be washed away.
“We can’t turn the ball over,” Pastner said on the eve of Georgia Tech’s game Wednesday night at Florida State. “We’re a good defensive team and we’re a great defensive team defending the 3-pointer, but you can’t continue to turn the ball over.”
Georgia Tech (10-9, 3-3) had 15 turnovers in Saturday’s loss to North Carolina and 18 in last week’s loss to Virginia. Given the team’s lack of offensive firepower, it can’t afford to give up empty possessions or easy points to the opposition.
“If we don’t turn the ball over and we make our free throws, we’ll give ourselves a chance,” Pastner said.
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Tardric Jackson had five turnovers against North Carolina. Jose Alvarado, who gets the offense going at point guard, had three turnovers and two assists. That can’t happen against Florida State if the Yellow Jackets hope to succeed.
Florida State (14-5, 3-4) will test Georgia Tech’s ability to defend the 3-pointer. The Seminoles are tied with Boston College for the most treys and they shoot 36.4 percent from beyond the arc. Five players have made at least 20 3-pointers. Georgia Tech doesn’t have a player with that many.
“They shoot a lot of 3s, and they make them,” Pastner said.
Georgia Tech ranks No. 1 in the ACC in the lowest 3-point percentage at 27.6 percent. It limited North Carolina, who entered the game hitting 38.5 percent, to only 23.8 percent.
The Seminoles led in scoring by junior Terance Mann, who averages 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds, and Braian Angola, who averages 14.3 and is the team’s top 3-point shooter. Freshman guard M.J. Walker is coming off a career-high 24 points in Saturday’s win over Virginia Tech.
Florida State, no doubt, remembers last year’s game in Atlanta when Georgia Tech led 41-15 at halftime and never allowed the Seminoles to get closer than 18 points in a 78-56 victory.
“They took us to the woodshed last year,” FSU coach Leonard Hamilton said. “Their execution was so good, and it looked like we were stepping in mud.”
Georgia Tech has won the last two games with the Seminoles.
Clemson game sold out: Officials said that Sunday’s game against No. 18 Clemson is sold out, Georgia Tech’s third sellout of the season. Last week’s game against Virginia was sold out, as is the Feb. 11 game against Duke. Limited tickets remain for the Feb. 17 game against Virginia Tech. The most sellouts in a season since Tech moved to McCamish Pavilion in 2011-12 was four.