N.C. State beats Georgia Tech 78-66 for fourth straight win

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ATLANTA – Terquavion Smith scored 25 points, Jarkel Joiner added 19 and North Carolina State beat Georgia Tech 78-66 on Tuesday night for its fourth straight win.

Georgia Tech trailed 59-47 but cut the deficit to 63-57 with 6:16 to play. N.C. State answered with a 12-2 run for a 75-59 lead with 2:42 remaining. Smith hit a pair of 3-pointers and Joiner made four free throws during the stretch.

Smith was 9 of 17 from the floor and made four 3-pointers to go with five assists and two blocks. Joiner was 5-of-11 shooting and made all nine of his free throws.

Casey Morsell added 12 points and D.J. Burns Jr. had 10 for N.C. State (15-4, 5-3 ACC). Morsell also blocked three shots, including one that lead to a Joiner dunk.

Jalon Moore had 17 points and eight rebounds to lead Georgia Tech (8-10, 1-7). Four others added nine points apiece for the Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech built a 10-point lead five minutes into the game before an 8-2 surge gave N.C. State the lead for good with 1:29 remaining in the first half.

N.C. State is on the road against North Carolina on Saturday. Georgia Tech hosts Syracuse on Saturday.

No. 13 Virginia beats Georgia Tech, Bennett ties school wins mark

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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ATLANTA – A 25-0 run removed any suspense from Tony Bennett’s pursuit of a Virginia coaching milestone.

The No. 13 Cavaliers blew away Georgia Tech with the spurt, which began in the closing minutes of the first half and carried over after the break to give Virginia a 74-56 victory Saturday.

For Bennett, it was win No. 326 as the Cavaliers’ coach, pushing him into a tie with Terry Holland for the most in school history.

“Just the way he has represented basketball and this program, what he’s built, it’s just tremendous to be able to talk about him,” Bennett said. “I never got into coaching to break records. I just wanted to win because I love the game.”

Bennett improved to 326-119 in 14 years leading the Virginia men’s basketball program. Holland went 326-173 over a 16-season tenure that ended in 1990.

Virginia (10-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored the final nine points of the first half – all on 3-pointers off Georgia Tech turnovers – to take a 36-25 lead into halftime.

It would get worse for the Yellow Jackets (7-6, 0-3) when the teams returned to the court, as the Cavaliers ripped off another 16 points to make it 52-25 before the home team finally made a basket.

“For the most part defensively, we didn’t give them anything easy,” Bennett said. “Then we got a few turnovers and made 3s. When you’re not exchanging baskets, that’s when stuff like that can happen.”

Kihei Clark had 15 points and eight assists to lead Virginia, which kept up its domination of Georgia Tech with a 10th straight victory in the series. Jayden Gardner added 14 points, while Armaan Franklin and Kadin Shedrick added 11 apiece.

Looking to bounce back from an ugly 13-point home loss to Clemson before the 10-day Christmas break, Georgia Tech shook up its lineup by bringing top scorer Miles Kelly off the bench. It did no good.

The Yellow Jackets have lost their first three ACC games by an average margin of nearly 16 points and appear headed for another dismal season. They went 12-20 a year ago.

Kelly scored 20 points but none of his teammates reached double figures. The Yellow Jackets turned it over 23 times, leading to 30 points for the Cavaliers.

“Virginia was knocking down a lot of shots,” Kelly said. “That was really the game. We couldn’t get any stops on the defensive end.”

DRE IN THE HOUSE

Former Virginia star De’Andre Hunter was at McCamish Pavilion to cheer on his alma mater and stopped by the locker room afterward.

Hunter was a key player on the Cavaliers’ national championship team in 2019. He now plays for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, who were off Saturday after losing to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers the night before.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had one of those kind of runs,” Bennett said. “Maybe it was because De’Andre was sitting behind the bench.”

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers set the tone with their accuracy beyond the arc. Eight of their 13 first-half baskets were 3-pointers, many coming in transition off Virginia’s smothering defense. Bennett’s team looked more like the team that rose to No. 2 in the rankings before consecutive losses to Houston and Miami.

Georgia Tech: Coach Josh Pastner has given little indication in his seven-year tenure that he can transform the Yellow Jackets into a perennial conference contender. Other than a surprising run to the ACC tournament title during the pandemic-marred 2020-21 season, the Yellow Jackets are 36-60 in league play under Pastner.

“This was no fun for anybody,” the coach said. “But there’s a lot of basketball to be played.”

UP NEXT

Virginia: Bennett will look to break the tie with Holland when the Cavaliers travel to Pittsburgh for an ACC game Tuesday night.

Georgia Tech: Hosts another ranked ACC team, No. 14 Miami, to wrap up a four-game homestand Wednesday night.

Miles Kelly leads Georgia Tech to 79-77 win over rival Georgia

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Northeastern at Georgia Tech
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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly hit another winning shot against a state rival.

Terry Roberts endured a nightmarish final minute for Georgia.

Kelly hit a long 3-pointer and then a drove for the game-winning floater with 23 seconds remaining as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night.

Kelly hit the winning shot in similar fashion against Georgia State on Nov. 12. He did it again to beat the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 17 points after failing to score in the first half.

“I’m going to continue to keep shooting, no matter how many times I miss,” Kelly said.

Roberts missed a 3-pointer, turned the ball over twice with bad passes, and was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to drive for the basket that would’ve sent the game to overtime.

“A tough finish for us,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “We were in position to steal one on the road.”

A pair of second-chance buckets seemingly put Georgia (7-3) in control with a 77-73 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again as Kelly led the comeback for the Yellow Jackets (6-3) – with a big assist from Roberts.

He had a chance to essentially seal it for the Bulldogs, but his jumper beyond the arc clanked off the rim.

Georgia Tech grabbed the rebound and raced down the court, where Kelly swished a 3 from well behind the stripe that brought Georgia Tech within a point with about a minute left.

Trying to work the ball inside, Roberts made an ill-advised entry pass that was deflected and stolen by Deivon Smith, setting up Kelly’s drive for the basket that put the Yellow Jackets back ahead,

Roberts tried a drive of his own, only to have it blocked by Jalon Moore. Georgia retained possession, but Roberts’ inbounds pass was stolen by Moore, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Roberts took the ball again and hurriedly dribbled toward the basket, only to be called for an offensive foul when he sent Smith flying.

“Just sacrificing my body for the team,” Smith said.

Georgia stole an inbounds pass around midcourt, giving Karlo Oquendo one last shot to launch a 3 that still would’ve won it for the Bulldogs. It bounced off the rim.

The game was tight throughout. Neither team led by more than eight, and a sequence in the second half showed just how tightly these rivals were matched.

With both squads playing at a frenetic pace and showing little regard for defense, the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions as the teams traded baskets.

Stunningly, they combined to score on 19 straight possessions before Georgia’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe missed a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining.

FIRING UP THE CROWD

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key addressed the crowd at halftime.

Key, who served as interim coach for the last eight games of the season, was introduced Monday as the full-time choice for job.

He fired up the fans by getting them to chant “To hell with Georgia” over and over again. When a smattering of Bulldogs fans responded with barks, Key smiled and egged on the Yellow Jackets crowd to drown them out.

He also declared Georgia Tech to be the “greatest school in the entire state, the entire country,” following up his vow the previous day to not back down from the defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: This will be a tough one to swallow for Roberts, who led his team with 16 points and seven assists. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 53.4% from the field.

Georgia Tech: Four players scored in double figures, and two others players finished with eight points. But it was Kelly, as usual, who had the ball in his hands at the end of a tight game.

UP NEXT

Georgia: After a nearly two-week break, the Bulldogs return to Atlanta on Dec. 18 to face Notre Dame at State Farm Arena in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

Georgia Tech: Head to North Carolina on Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the struggling Tar Heels.

ACC Commisioner Jim Phillips: Time to expand NCAA’s Big Dance

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Plenty of people have called for NCAA Tournament expansion. Count ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips among them.

Phillips said at the ACC Tipoff that “it’s time to look at” expanding the field beyond the 68 teams currently invited to the Big Dance each March.

Phillips believes the NCAA’s best tournaments are the ones that feature the most schools. That’s part of why he’s hopeful of eventual expansion, not just for the men’s event but for all NCAA championships.

Increasing the field also brings rewards for those “schools that are spending a tremendous amount of resources in sports and not having a chance to access those championships,” he said.

Currently, just 68 of 358 men’s basketball programs qualify for the men’s NCAAs – 32 conference champions and 36 at-large teams picked by the selection committee. Phillips said the logistics of staging a bigger tournament need to be worked out.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has advocated for more teams in the field the past 30 years. “I’ve been knocked down every year I’ve brought it up,” said the 77-year-old Boeheim. “I stopped bringing it up. Everybody thought I was an idiot.”

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey projects adding three more First Four pods – one for each region – could work and take the field up to 80.

“Let’s throw three more Daytons in, regionalize it up and play it out, let some more kids get in there,” Brey said.

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton wants to double the field – and double the experience for athletes who work hard all year for their moment in March. “Do you realize how it would be an opportunity for all these youngsters to participate in the NCAA Tournament?” he said. “It’s the greatest games in history.”

BACOT BACK

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot could’ve easily jumped to the NBA, especially after leading the Tar Heels to the NCAA championship game last season. Instead, the 6-foot-11 senior wanted another run to finish the job.

Bacot, a likely pick for ACC preseason player of the year, was among four Tar Heels who held off going pro in the wake of their 72-69 title-game loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament in April. North Carolina was up 40-25 at halftime before the Jayhawks’ rallied.

For Bacot, it was a difficult outcome that fueled his decision to return. He doesn’t spend much time thinking about the NBA, concentrating on improving his game and helping the Tar Heels win.

“Going through last year with our ups and downs,” Bacot said. “Our ups were really high and a lot of fun. Just being able to experience that for a full year was a no-brainer.”

PERFECT YOUNG

Virginia Tech coach Mike Young led his Hokies to a surprise ACC Tournament title last March, defeating second-seeded Notre Dame in the quarterfinals, third-seeded North Carolina in the semis and top-seeded Duke, 82-67, for the school’s first-ever tournament crown.

That improved Young’s record to 6-0 in tournament finals. Young, beginning his fourth season at Virginia Tech, won all five Southern Conference championship games he reached during 16 seasons leading Wofford.

The secret? Don’t change anything. “We all know what’s at stake,” Young said. “Let’s go have a good time, lay our ears back and let it rip.”

DUKE INJURY

Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer said prize freshman Dariq Whitehead is progressing well about six weeks into recovery from a foot injury.

Whitehead is a 6-foot-7 forward from Newark, New Jersey, who was rated the country’s No. 2 prospect this past recruiting season.

Whitehead is entering the next phase of his recovery where he’s able to get out on the court more, Scheyer said. The first-year coach can’t yet say when Whitehead will be ready to play, “but he’s progressing in a great way and he’s working hard, and I know he’s anxious to be out here with these guys practicing every day.”

PASTNER TIME

Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner is excited about – well, everything.

He thinks the ACC is deep and great. His players are smart and hardworking. And his school is a leader in the space industry.

“They found water on Mars from Georgia Tech,” said Pastner, bragging on 14 Tech grads who’ve been to space. “That’s what’s amazing about this school. It’s incredible.”

Pastner gushed that he thinks North Carolina should be ranked No. 1 nationally to start the season. He also would pick Virginia as the league’s best team. “I know it sounds crazy when I say this,” said Pastner, opening his seventh year with the Yellow Jackets.

All-ACC player Swartz transfers from BC to Georgia Tech

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 30 Womens - Boston College at Notre Dame
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ATLANTA – All-Atlantic Coast Conference guard Cameron Swartz has transferred from Boston College to Georgia Tech.

Yellow Jackets coach Nell Fortner announced Wednesday that the 5-foot-11 player from suburban Marietta would be playing closer to home next season.

Swartz was selected as the league’s most improved player and made the All-ACC first team after leading the Eagles in scoring at 16.1 points a game. She was the conference’s sixth-leading scorrrer.

“We welcome Cameron back home to Atlanta and the Georgia Tech women’s basketball family,” Fortner said. “Her game has consistently grown throughout her collegiate career and she has proven herself to be one of the best scorers in the ACC.”

Georgia Tech will be Swartz’s thjird school. She started out at Colorado, playing seven games as a freshman, before transferring to Boston College, where she played the last three seasons.

Swartz played her high school ball at Fellowship Christian, leading the state of Georgia in scoring at 32.1 points per game.

Boeheim brothers lead Syracuse past Georgia Tech in OT

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
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SYRACUSE, N.Y.- The Boeheim brothers combined for 35 points and Buddy Boeheim hit a key 3-pointer in overtime to lift Syracuse to a 74-73 victory over Georgia Tech on Monday night.

Buddy Boeheim’s 3-pointer gave Syrcause a 72-70 lead with 2:17 to go in the extra period. Jimmy Boeheim drew a foul on Syracuse’s next possession and made both free throws for a 74-70 lead with 1:56 remaining.

Kyle Sturdivant’s 3-pointer drew Georgia Tech within a point with 1:36 remaining for the game’s final points. After a series of turnovers and missed jumpers by both teams, Georgia Tech had possession with 22 seconds left. Michael Devoe, Georgia Tech’s leading scorer, would miss three jump shots as the Yellow Jackets collected the offensive rebound after each miss – with time running out on the third try.

Jimmy Boeheim led Syracuse (15-12, 9-7 ACC) with 20 points and he grabbed 10 rebounds. Buddy Boeheim scored 15 points but together the brothers were 11 of 37 from the field. Cole Swider had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Joe Girard III added 12 points and five assists. Syracuse won despite shooting 33%. The Orange had only four turnovers.

Rodney Howard had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Georgia Tech (11-16, 4-12). Jordan Usher had 14 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Devoe finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists.

A 3-pointer by Girard and a layup from Swider gave Syracuse a 59-53 lead with 5:23 remaining in regulation. Georgia Tech bounced right back with a pair of 3-pointers from Dallan Coleman to tie the score. At 2:28 Coleman came through again, making two of three free throws to draw the Yellow Jackets within 63-62. A minute later, Jalon Moore made one of two free throws to tie the score at 63 and set up the scoreless final minute of regulation.

The game was a makeup for the game that was originally scheduled for Dec. 29 but was postponed due to COVID-19 issues within the Yellow Jackets’ team.