Momentum and confidence are funny things in college basketball. Over the last week, all the momentum has been shifting away from Miami’s program. The Canes arrive in Hawaii. Reggie Johnson gets hurt. Miami loses two of three in Hawaii. Miami returns home. Reggie Johnson is diagnosed – broken thumb, out 6 weeks. Miami loses the first half to La Salle. All of a sudden, things seem to be slipping away. And then the second half of last night’s game started. The Canes opened on 10-2 run, and never looked back.
And that brings us to confidence. A come from behind win against a quality opponent is the sort of thing that will give you confidence. For Miami, that confidence is going to be huge for their success. Without star big man Reggie Johnson for at least the next eight games, the Canes are going to need to keep the confidence they gained from the La Salle victory, and build on it not only against Georgia Tech, but also going forward in the ACC.
On Saturday, Miami heads to Atlanta to face off with Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets come in sporting a 10-2 record, sporting a 9-0 mark at home. Coming off of Wednesday’s win against La Salle, the Canes now sit at 9-3, including a 3-1 record on the road.
Georgia Tech Scouting Report
There isn’t much statistically that stands out about Georgia Tech. While their record is stellar, they’re wins aren’t exactly that. They’re 8-0 against teams with an RPI above 200, 2-0 against teams between 100 and 200, and 0-2 against teams in the RPI top 100. Offensively, they rank 205th in the nation in points per game, at 66.6. They don’t have one player ranked in the top 25 in points per game.
Here’s what does jump off the page at me about Georgia Tech: They allow the 6th fewest points per game in the nation, at 53.5. For comparisons sake, Miami allows the 62nd fewest at 60.1. Even more impressive, their defensive efficiency is 82.5, which ranks 4th best in the country. Defensive efficiency is important because it adjusts for the pace that a team plays at. Georgia Tech plays at a slow pace (276th out of 347), and they still have a good defensive efficiency rank.
My lone question about Georgia Tech’s defensive numbers is how much it’s been impacted by their schedule. They’ve held 4 opponents under 42 points: Presbyterian, Rice, Alabama State and Citadel. Those teams don’t exactly scream “GREAT OFFENSE” at you, do they? I don’t mean to discredit Tech’s defense, because there’s no denying they’re a solid defensive squad, it’s just something that I think needs to be acknowledged.
Key For The Canes
Change the pace. Georgia Tech plays really, really slow, as mentioned before. Miami, meanwhile, plays pretty slow in it’s own right. The Canes rank 263rd in the nation, averaging 65.4 possessions per game, compared to Georgia Tech’s 64.8. They both play slow. With Reggie Johnson out for Miami, I think the Canes need to push the ball a lot more. When Reggie plays, the Canes can afford to slow it down, work the ball inside, and let Reggie do his work down low. When you replace Reggie with Julian Gamble, who isn’t as skilled offensively as Reggie is, the Canes offense slows down in the half court. To make up for this, I think Miami needs to get out and run with Shane Larkin and Durand Scott. The game against La Salle turned when Shane Larkin started attacking the basket in transition, and I think we might see much of the same in this game.
Projected Starting Lineups
Center – Daniel Miller, 6’11, 257, JR
Forward – Robert Carter, 6’8, 245, FR
Guard – Marcus Georges-Hunt, 6’5, 218, FR
Guard – Mfon Udofia, 6’2, 195, SR
Guard – Brandon Reed, 6’3, 182, JR
Center – Julian Gamble, 6’11, 250, SR
Forward – Kenny Kadji, 6’11, 242, SR
Guard – Trey McKinney-Jones, 6’5, 220, SR
Guard – Durand Scott, 6’5, 203, SR
Guard – Shane Larkin, 5’11, 176, SO
I’ll be honest: I think this game should be won pretty handily by UM. Outside of a loss to Illinois, Georgia Tech hasn’t played anybody this season as good as Miami. I can’t help but feel like a large part of Georgia Tech’s numbers have come from the level of competition they’ve played against. One more thing worth noting: GT is the third best rebounding team in the ACC, averaging 39 per game. If the Yellow Jackets control the glass, I think Miami could be in real trouble. If the Canes control the glass, control the pace, and keep GT out of the paint, Miami has a big victory in their future. Final score: Miami wins 70-55.
If you want to find my thoughts during the game, I'll be on twitter @IK_Canes.