After a terrible start on defense, the Eagles were in a hole. Down 13-3 with less than four minutes of play off the clock, things were getting desperate, and fast. In transition, Boston College was a mess. Marcus Georges-Hunt got the rebound on a missed Olivier Hanlan 3-pointer and ran the floor in less than seven seconds finishing with an easy lay-up.
Georgia Tech dominated the first half.
The defense was in a state of malaise, especially on the perimeter.
“I would love to have an answer why,” said head coach Steve Donahue. “We didn’t play with a lot of passion.”
Georgia Tech’s dominance came because of its defense, which shut out the Eagles’ shooting. The Yellow Jackets threw off BC on offense, tossing multiple looks at them. The visitors’ head coach Brian Gregory set his team up in a man, zone and matchup zone, which confused the Eagles throughout the game.
Donahue gave the Yellow Jackets a taste of their own medicine by changing up his defense as the game went on.
“We went zone and we were front in the post,” Donahue said. “I thought we did a great job of not letting them get any touches down there.”
The good defense started on the interior, where BC managed to stop numerous opportunities and then score in transition.
The Eagles cut the Yellow Jackets’ lead to one point, but ran out of gas. Nonetheless, it all boiled down to a problem with the mentality. During the Eagles’ secondhalf comeback, Hanlan stated, “I just felt everybody was more aggressive and playing with a little more attitude.”
Georgia Tech guard Trae Golden drove past one defender and rose for a layup. With a quick sleight of hand, Eagles forward Eddie Odio swatted the ball from Golden’s hands. Hanlan picked up the loose ball and put in a layup at the opposite end of the court.
This was one of Odio’s many defensive contributions in a night when he grabbed two blocks, one steal, and three defensive rebounds.
He helped hold 6-foot-11 and 275-pound center Daniel Miller to four points on the night.
Miller had nine points in Georgia Tech’s loss against Miami the game before, and the Yellow Jackets’ offense works best when it runs through their man at the five spot.
In the second half, Odio’s playing time was sporadic. At first, Odio appeared to have lower leg problem, awkwardly hitting the court after coming out of the air.
Over the course of the game, Odio gradually began clutching his right thigh, and was seen with a trainer doing quadriceps stretches. The forward continued to go in and out of the game, coming out in visible pain.
On one foul shot he could not get off of his toes, and he continued to grab his right quad.
Donahue attributed the injury to cramps, and he noted Odio’s absence.
“I love the way Eddie comes every day and plays with passion,” Donahue said. “He has got a terrific year and a half ahead of him.”
Following two made free throws from Ryan Anderson, with 1:12 left, the Eagles found themselves with a four-point deficit.
On the ensuing inbound pass, Golden got the ball and was quickly fouled in the corner by Odio. Now two fouls away from going into the bonus, Rahon fouled Bolden while trying to knock the ball out of the sophomore guard’s hands from behind.
What looked like a coaching blunder was explained as bad execution on the defensive end.
“We were at four fouls with 1:46, so you don’t want to let that one go all the way down, and it’s still a two possession game,” Donahue said. “So, once we got to five [fouls], we weren’t going to foul that next one-sort of play that possession out and get a stop.
“When that foul happened-still not the end of the world-still got to get a stop at the end of the clock … Golden is very good going to his right on the flat screen at the top. We didn’t execute it well. He got to his right hand, Eddie was anticipating left. He comes out and they bump.”
Golden went to the line knocking down both free throws, giving his team a six-point lead with 42 seconds remaining.