UNC Basketball vs Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Match Preview

The UNC basketball program will face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the first game of the CCA conference for either team. North Carolina and Georgia Tech are looking to kick off their ACC calendar with a win.

The Tar Heels come off a resounding 21-point victory over the Michigan Wolverines. UNC has back-to-back wins that were around the 20 point winning margin. The Tar Heels are always looking to create a positive dynamic by playing against a familiar ACC nemesis, Georgia Tech. At this point, the Tar Heels looked like “Jekyll and Hyde”. One game, UNC will look like the best team in the country. In the next game, they might not play for lack of effort and blow themselves up by almost 20 points. On the bright side, this is a young UNC team with several new players, including freshmen and transfers, who are now working in their quest to forge team chemistry.

On the flip side, Georgia Tech lost a close game to Wisconsin No.23 70-66 last Wednesday. Michael Devoe led all scorers with 33 points. He made five of his 10 three-point baskets.

The Yellow Jackets are the defending ACC 2021 tournament champions. Although they have lost their top two players to Moses Wright and Jose Alvarado, Georgia Tech returns a strong team that is capable of competing with anyone. North Carolina should be a pretty good match for them. This match will be a chess match between the two coaches.

Will perimeter shooting dictate the game? Will the grown-ups determine the course of the game? Who will be the star of each team? This is one of those games where you want to use the bathroom before the game starts and make sure your snacks and refreshments are ready before giving a tip. You don’t want to miss this game. This could be a preview of the 2022 ACC tournament championship.

Key to victory

Georgia Tech maintains its opponents at an average of 67 points per game. The technology will slow down the game and manage the game clock. In addition, they will try to confuse UNC with their defensive appearance. The Tar Heels are averaging 12.4 turnovers per game. That will be a critical stat for the Tar Heels and could decide the game for them. Committing too many turnovers early in the game could give Tech a huge lead early in the game. UNC’s Caleb Love and RJ Davis must not push the offense. Careful selection of shots while being aggressive with the ball will help dictate the flow of play.

Armando Bacot should have a big game this weekend. He’s having an All-ACC caliber season. Bacot makes a good case for being in the discussion for 2022 CCA Defensive Player of the Year. He ranks third in rebounds (9.8) and fifth in blocks (1.86) per game this season.

Additionally, Georgia Tech has just had an impressive 2021 season that has surprised many people. The Yellow Jackets had two leading players who won major ACC season accolades in Jose Alvarado and Moses Wright. Wright was the 2021 ACC Player of the Year and Alvarado was the 2021 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Alvarado and Wright switched to playing professional basketball.

Most of Georgia Tech’s production comes from senior goaltender Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher. Currently, Devoe is the ACC’s top scorer. He leads the CCA in three-point field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. Devoe is averaging 25 points, six rebounds and four assists per game. Usher is averaging 14 points and eight rebounds per game.

Another interesting fact about Devoe and Usher is their size and versatility, which will be a problem for UNC. Devoe is 6 feet 5 inches, 191 pounds, while Usher is 6 feet 7 inches, 220 pounds. Both players are versatile. Georgia Tech is a rambling blue collar team with a lot of fighting. Devoe is their clear leader. Containing Devoe will be the task of the day for the Heels.

Something to watch

In the previous season’s game, RJ Davis and Kerwin Walton were in the starting lineup, while Caleb Love and Leaky Black came off the bench. Expect Walton to be the first man to leave the bench in this season’s game, as Davis, Love and Black take the start. Black is the glue guy. He is the best defenseman in the Tar Heels. This year’s North Carolina squad is playing at a different pace from last year’s squad. Davis and Love start out together and their games have really accelerated.

Georgia Tech has three players averaging over 50 percent beyond the arc. Devoe shoots 59% from the three-point line, Dallan Coleman averages 55% from three and Deivon Smith is averaging 50% at long distance. Technology can absolutely light it up from the perimeter. If the pace gets out of hand, don’t be surprised if UNC head coach Hubert Davis opts for a small squad that includes Black in the fourth position. It would be up to UNC to use a 1-3-1 zone defense if Georgia Tech gets hot from the outside.

Carolina has an advantage with its versatile low-ranking players, Bacot, Garcia and Manek. While all three are able to shoot from the perimeter (plus Garcia and Manek), any or any combination of these three could have a field day on the blocks. Tech doesn’t have much length in his main rotation, which bodes well for the Tar Heels.

Additionally, this game may be ideal for Kerwin Walton to be a perimeter sniper. Feeding Bacot will bring major benefits to Tar Heels. He should have at least 12-15 touches this game. He’s shooting 64 percent from the field. Bacot has proven to be a good connoisseur on blocks with his ability to score. The addition of Manek and Garcia opened up more space for Bacot at the bottom. Love has proven to be explosive and almost unstoppable this season. If Love has a similar path to the game against Michigan, then UNC adds another “W” to the wins column.

Last meeting

North Carolina lost to Georgia Tech 72-67 on December 30, 2020, when the Yellow Jackets were the home team in Atlanta, Georgia. The Tar Heels’ top scorers were Armando Bacot (14 points and five rebounds) and Leaky Black (10 points, three rebounds, two assists). North Carolina led at halftime 35-29. Tech’s Jose Alvarado turned out to be too much for the Tar Heels. He led Georgia Tech to victory while hitting key shots and free throws to seal the victory in the last minute of the game. Eventual ACC 2020 tournament MVP Michael Devoe finished the game with 20 points while lighting UNC 4 of 7 from the three-point line.

Davis and Love shot 4 of 17 from the field against Georgia Tech last season. Alvarado, Devoe and Usher have scored 54 of Georgia Tech’s 72 points. Although UNC passed Georgia Tech 37-23, they committed 18 turnovers for the game. The turnovers determined the outcome of the match. The two teams were almost identical in field goal percentage, field goal percentage and free throws. UNC’s rebound advantage was negated by the mistakes they made.

Planned entries

No.4 RJ Davis (So., 6-0, 175) – 13 points per game, 3.9 rpg
No.2 Caleb Love (So., 6-4, 195) – 16.1 ppg, 4.2 apg
No. 1 Leaky Black (Sr., 6-8,200) – 4.8 ppg, 5.0 RPG
No.13 Dawson Garcia (So. 6-11, 235) – 11.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg
N ° 5 Armando Bacot (Jr., 6-10, 240) – 15 ppg, 9.4 rpg

What would you like to know

WHAT? Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-2, 1-0 away) v North Carolina Tar Heels (4-2, 4-0 at home)
WHEN? Sunday, December 5 – 3 p.m. EST
OR? McCamish Pavilion – Atlanta, Georgia
RADIO? Tar Heels sports network affiliates
LAST MEETING? Georgia Tech won 72-67 on December 30, 2021
ALL TIME SERIES? UNC leads 69-26; 55-24 since Georgia Tech joined ACC
PREDICTION? UNC 70, Georgia Tech 66

For full coverage of the game and everything else in the UNC basketball program, check back with Keeping It Heel.

About Kimberly Alley

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