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Three Up, Three Down: Georgia Tech

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It was rather hard-fought, but the Deacs pulled out a strong team victory on Saturday, keeping their fairly slim tournament hopes alive and continuing to demonstrate growth in the Manning Era.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia Tech at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Ups

John Collins Is Probably Pretty Good, Guys. 20 points (7-12, 6-8), 11 rebounds, 5 blocks, and only 3 fouls in 29 minutes. Even better, John forced a lot of fouls on Georgia Tech, with Sylvester Ogbonda, backup to Ben Lammers, fouling out in only 14 minutes. leaving the Yellow Jackets with no choice but to leave an already foul-plagued Lammers on the floor. He was obviously limited by his foul trouble, and Collins was already going to be a problem.

Mitch Wilbekin: Swiss Army Guard. Mitch probably had the best game of his career, tallying 16 points (4-9 shooting, 4-8 from deep, 4-4 from the line), 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Not only did Mitch nail 4 threes, he hit them at key moments, especially one late to put the Deacs back up 14 points that made me turn to the people sitting with me and say “that’s the killshot” which, well, it was. Good stuff from Mitch.

Still Fantastic From The Line. 21-24 for 87.5%. We really are elite with foul shooting, and that can make a huge difference, especially if we’re lucky enough to see postseason play. Even when we had really great teams under Coach Gaudio, foul shooting was an issue more often than not, and it may well have lost us games during that time. It’s refreshing to have a squad that really knows what it’s doing from the charity stripe.

The Downs

Foul Issues Of Our Own. 20 Wake Forest fouls as well, leading to 28 Georgia Tech free throw attempts. Even more impressively, Doral Moore managed to rack up 4 fouls in only 9 minutes. We’re lucky John was able to generally keep out of his usual foul trouble, because if not our front line would have been in major trouble.

Josh Okogie Lived At The Line. The freshman guard racked up 23 points, but his shooting wasn’t great, as he went 6-15 shooting, but he went 11-13 from the free throw line, so he gashed our defense pretty much at will.

Under Eight Collapse. The team recovered better than usual. but almost like clockwork, we seem to take our feet off the gas when games go into the under-eight timeout, We had gone up by 16 points, and Georgia Tech nearly halved that lead in not much time at all. That’s something we really need to work on, and it’s been plaguing us all season.

The Bottom Line

Big time win, and it was relatively convincing one at that. John Collins is a beast, and if by some stroke of luck we get him back for his junior season, this team will be absolutely terrifying next season. Either way, the Manning Era continues to be refreshing in its reasons to have hope, and we’ve got a chance to make a major splash on Tuesday in South Bend.

On to the next. Go Deacs.

—SF