Josh Pastner has sounded like a broken record at times this month when he’s talking about turnovers. The Georgia Tech coach has repeated the mantra over and over, echoing the need for his team to protect the basketball.
It will be an issue again on Sunday when the Yellow Jackets (10-10, 3-4 ACC) host No. 18 Clemson (16-4, 5-3) at 6 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion. The game is part of a double-header, with the Georgia Tech women meeting Virginia at 1 p.m.
Georgia Tech is averaging 13.1 turnovers per game, with only three ACC teams giving the ball away more. It doesn’t sound that bad until the team’s limited offense and the poor assist-to-turnover ratio (0.95, third-worst in the ACC) are figured into the equation.
Georgia Tech turned it over 16 times against Florida State, which led to 22 points for the Seminoles. The Yellow Jackets had 15 turnovers against North Carolina and 18 turnovers against Virginia. That’s too many mistakes to overcome.
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“We have to be much better taking care of the ball,” Pastner said. “We had 18 (against Virginia). You cut that in half, get a few extra shot attempts, who knows where the game goes.”
That starts with point guard Jose Alvarado. After having no turnovers against Pittsburgh, Alvarado has turned it over 10 times over the last three games. The bright spot has been his offense; he’s totaled 40 points in the last two games and scored 23 against Florida State.
The possessions will be important Sunday when Clemson comes to town. The Tigers are an average offensive team (75 points per game) but recently lost Donte Grantham, their second-leading scorer, for the season with a torn ACL. They, too, have trouble scoring and managed only 17 second-half points on Wednesday in a loss to No. 2 Virginia. Clemson and Georgia Tech both allow 65 points per game, tied for fourth in the ACC.
Clemson’s best player is junior Marcquise Reed, who leads the team with 15.5 points and adds 4.6 rebounds. But the Tigers have more scoring options and more balance than Georgia Tech, with Shelton Mitchell (11.7 points), Gabe DeVoe 11.7) and Elijah Thomas (10.6 points) all viable options.
Georgia Tech and Clemson play twice each season. Last year they split the two meetings, with each winning on their own home floor. Ben Lammers had 23 points and 10 rebounds in the Georgia Tech victory and had 25 points and nine rebounds in the loss.
The Yellow Jackets need more offense out of Lammers, who is averaging only 11.8 points. The nadir came when he scored four points – and took only five shots – against Virginia. He was more active the last two games, scoring 12 against North Carolina and 13 on Florida State, hitting 5 of 6 from the field.
This will mark the halfway point of the ACC season. A year ago the Yellow Jackets were 4-4 at the midway mark.