Poor shooting down the stretch? Sure. Terrible officiating? Absolutely. Did Georgia Tech deserve to win? I think they probably did.
The home winning streak ends at 16 games, as the Deacs fell to Georgia Tech 89-83. In the highest scoring ACC game Wake has played this season, there wasn’t quite enough firepower down the stretch to stay with the Yellow Jackets.
Without LD Williams Wake couldn’t find anyone to guard Anthony Morrow, who torched the Deacs for 23 points. Besides hitting his shots, he drew plenty of fouls and went 8-8 from the line.
By shooting better than Wake and turning the ball over fewer times, Georgia Tech did what they had to do to win. As frustrating as it was to see the Deacs play the way they did, I give a lot of credit to GT for coming in to a tough road environment—the crowd was great tonight—and getting the job done for the win.
Besides making plenty of bad calls, the refs seemed to lose control of the game in the first half when Matt Causey was called for an intentional foul on James Johnson and Jeff Teague was given a Technical for threatening Causey.
Surprisingly—to me anyway—Dino took the blame, saying “That’s absolutely my fault. We should be more poised and have a little more discipline in those situations and that’s on me.”
All the fouling caused rotation problems in the second half. James Johnson eventually fouled out, Jeff Teague and Harvey Hale each ended with four fouls, and Ish and Weaver each had three of their own. Making 23 of 29 free throw attempts put Georgia Tech in great shape.
“We couldn’t play as aggressive as we would have liked,” said Jeff Teague. “Having four fouls for a number of minutes is tough, but you have to go all-out no matter if you foul out.”
James Johnson, who had another disappointing game with several lazy mistakes like not boxing out and playing good defense, said “It’s tough to sit the bench, then have to worry about not being able to play as hard as you can because you might get another foul.”
Although Wake shot considerably better than they have recently (50% from the field, 44% beyond the arc), Dino Gaudio said “that’s a misleading stat when you see we had 20 turnovers.”
Considering the team has averaged about nine turnovers in their ACC wins, those 20 turnovers (six from Ish, five from Teague) caused big problems.
The defense wasn’t much better. “I thought our defense was poor this evening. When we needed stops, we didn’t get them.”
Whether it will be a true break-out game, or if it was just because he was playing Georgia Tech, Harvey Hale had one of his best offensive nights of the season, scoring 18 points and shooting 40% from 3-point range. Hopefully these performances will continue.
It was also great to see Gary Clark see some significant minutes off the bench tonight. “He gave us a terrific lift of the bench in the first half, that’s why we had the lead we did,” said Dino. “He was a bright spot for us tonight.”
It’s tough to see the home winning streak end, and even tougher to see the Deacs drop two games below .500 in the ACC for the first time this season. At this point it becomes imperative to beat Virginia on Saturday and to finally get a road win at Florida State next week.
If the Deacs go into the two-game Duke/UNC stretch below .500, than the season may become lost, baring a miracle.
“If we’re talking NCAA Tournament we need every win we can get right now,” said Teague. “Saturday is a must win. Florida State on the road is a must win. Every game from here on becomes a must win”
“We’ve let three in a row slip away. We have the game and then let it go. It’s really disappointing.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one as well. I don’t think Dino had that bad of a game—although he did say he may lose a little sleep over not some mental mistakes— but I think some fans may have issues over his play. Feel free to share your thoughts on that, the officiating, or anything else you noticed tonight.