Louisville vs. Georgia Tech preview with Jackets Maven Matthew McGavic


Louisville men’s basketball returns home after three consecutive conference road wins, hosting Georgia Tech at the KFC Yum! Center Jan. 22. The Cardinals (15-3 overall, 6-1 in the ACC) defeated then third-ranked Duke last Saturday to remained tied with Florida State atop the ACC standings.

Georgia Tech (8-10 overall, 3-5 in the ACC) has lost three of its last four games. SI Jackets Maven Matthew McGavic answered questions about the matchup that tips off at 7:04 p.m.

Why has Georgia Tech struggled recently?

MM: While they are a better team with Jose Alvarado and Jordan Usher in the lineup, this team still struggles mightily with giving the opposing team extra possessions. Specifically, what that means is turning the ball over at an extreme rate and not crashing the boards as much as they should on the defensive end of the floor. Rebounding has at times been an issue in games, but there have only been a couple games where Georgia Tech just could not take care of the ball. Not only are their 16.8 turnovers per game the worst mark in the ACC, it is 336th in all of Division I.

How does Georgia Tech beat Louisville?

MM: It ties back into the first question, turning the ball over. If Georgia Tech can somehow limit the times they give the ball away to Louisville, they have a fighting chance. In the last game against Virginia, whenever they weren't turning it over, their offense looked pretty good. In the first half alone, Georgia Tech went 11-18 from the field, and turned it over 13 times.

What makes Michael Devoe a great scorer?

MM: He can score from anywhere on the floor. Over the offseason, assistant coach Anthony Wilkins worked with him a lot to improve various facets of his game and it has paid off. Not only can he shoot the ball form long distance (41.3% on 3-point attempts), but his first step on the drive allows him to create space for a shot inside the perimeter, and he has gotten much better at finishing through contact than he was last season.

Besides Devoe, what players will bother or disrupt Louisville the most?

MM: It has to be Moses Wright. At the beginning of the year, Wright had trouble not with finishing games, but with starting them. He would put together great second halves, yet struggle to put forth meaningful minutes in the first 20 minutes of the game. Now that coach Josh Pastner has grilled him enough about effort and accountability, he is one of the more underrated players in the ACC. His physicality allows him to back down in the post against most players he is matched up against, he possesses a great baby skyhook, has gotten much better at chasing down rebounds, and every once in a while can test the defense with a 3-point shot.

Is this team still in the mindset of playing its way into the NCAA tournament?

MM: I believe so. After each loss this past week, point guard Jose Alvarado and center James Banks III each took personal accountability for the loss and reiterated their belief that they believe they can turn it around. So the team's mindset is not what is in question, because they are buying what Pastner is selling. It's just a matter of if they can actually execute what they want to achieve.