State got back in the win column y’all. The Pack ended a seven game losing streak Tuesday night with a 71-69 win at Georgia Tech. There was defense that was played and rebounding as well. Things were good, especially when you choose to ignore the last two minutes, which I highly recommend as something that you should do.
State outrebound the Jackets by a 40-28 margin and the 69 points given up was the Pack’s best defensive effort against an ACC team all year. Terry Henderson was on fire for a large portion of the game, and ended up leading the team in scoring with 21. Dennis Smith hit multiple clutch shots at the end of the shot clock to keep the Jackets at an arm’s length until its final run ultimately fell short.
State’s offense was ugly in this game, but Georgia Tech’s was arguably uglier. The Jackets missed several shots right around the rim and made only 13 of 22 free throw attempts. The Pack saw the shot clock run down on countless possessions, but strong offensive rebounding and a few miracle shots allowed State to score on possessions it probably didn’t deserve to score on.
The Pack built a 14 point lead in the waning minutes off strong enough defense (that is not a typo), which was a large enough margin to survive State’s attempt at an epic collapse. Tech got the game all the way back to one point after numerous turnovers and predictable nonsense, then got a good look at a buzzer beating three after one Dennis Smith free throw. Markell Johnson’s contest of the shot as the final second wound off may have saved the game for the Pack.
Pretty much all of the systematic problems that State has were still evident in this game, but the effort and energy was better and in the end State had done enough to hang on for its fourth conference win of the season. The Gott Man being able to get at least one more win before his time here officially ends was definitely nice. Virginia comes to town on Saturday to play a game that I previously would have considered unwinnable. Virginia has recently forgotten how to play basketball though, so maybe there is a glimmer of hope.