No one likes to make excuses after a defeat, but there were plenty after Georgia Tech's 74-63 loss to Maryland Sunday night. With the loss, Tech falls to 10-10 and 3-4 in conference play.
The first bad news that the Jackets got came before the game. With Nate Hicks already out due to an appendectomy, the Jackets got word right before game time that they would also be without forward Brian Oliver. Hicks has provided depth on the inside and given the other two big men in Daniel Miller and Kammeon Holsey necessary rest on the bench. Oliver was coming off a 28-point outing against Virginia Tech, so both looked to be dearly missed.
The second issue came up in the first half. The referees called every single thing a foul early in the game. Like Coley Harvey said, "If you're in the paint tonight, you better not even breathe." The Jackets got into foul trouble early and were thrown off of their game plan. Five players had two fouls in the first half, including both of the big men on the team. Tech was forced to go small, and ended up playing for long stretches of time with five guards. At certain points, the tallest player on the floor for the Jackets was 6-5 point guard Iman Shumpert.
Enough with excuses, and now back to the game. Maryland held a 35-34 lead heading into the locker room, and the second half was an absolute battle. Both teams have made a living off of pressure defense this year, and it continued in the last 20 minutes. The Terps increased their lead to 13 points on the strength of their press at 65-52 with eight minutes remaining, and then Tech's pressure sparked a 9-0 run to make it 65-61 with 3:30 left.
Down by just four points with plenty of time, Tech was unable to get the one needed crucial play. It had its chances but seemingly every loose ball found a way into the wrong hands, and that was the game.
Tech's small lineup created some interesting numbers for Maryland. They failed to make a single three-pointer, the first time that has happened since Jan. 7, 1999. They had 24 points from the free throw line and 48 points inside the paint, meaning that they had just two points from outside the lane, which is absolutely astounding.
The Jackets were led in scoring by Glen Rice Jr. with 16. Iman Shumpert only had 12, an off night for him. The junior guard seemingly never was able to get into a rhythm.
Even without sustained play from any big men, Tech was only outrebounded by a 36-33 margin. The leading rebounder? 6-5 guard Glen Rice, Jr., who had a career-high 12 boards to pick up the double-double.
It was a tough loss under not ideal situations, but the Jackets never stopped fighting and made it a game late.
Tech next heads to Miami on Thursday night, and then gets a home rematch with rival Clemson on Saturday.