Still devoid of their first conference win, the Boston College athletic program is looking to avoid a new mark of futility. No school has lost all of its in conference football and basketball games since TCU in 1976-77 in the now defunct Southwest Conference. With the football program losing all of its in conference games, it is on head coach Jim Christian and the Boston College men’s basketball team (7-21, 0-15) to keep BC from being the first school in over 40 years to do that. The first of their remaining chances will come on Saturday at 12 pm versus Georgia Tech (16-12, 6-9) at Conte Forum.
There has not really been anything positive to talk about in the last four games for the Eagles. Each has been a loss by more than ten points. The most memorable of these was the now infamous Wake Forest game. Even without their best player, the second worst team in the ACC was able to run out to a 33-point first half lead. The marks of futility are everywhere for the Eagles, the latest coming on Tuesday against Virginia Tech in a 15-point home loss. Eli Carter has been inconsistent and inefficient even when he is at his best. The freshmen have shown flashes but they are far too inexperienced to count on. One bright spot has been Dennis Clifford who continues to play well and help to redeem his BC legacy in the last few games.
Georgia Tech has had a rough season as well but they are heating up lately. The Yellow Jackets have knocked off Clemson and No. 19 Notre Dame at home as well as an impressive road win over Florida State. Their attack is led by a balanced attack of seniors who all average double digit scoring. Guards Marcus Georges-Hunt and Adam Smith average 16.9 and 14.3 points per game respectively. Forwards Nick Jacobs and Charles Mitchell both average ten points per game with Mitchell pulling down ten rebounds per game in addition. The experienced, senior-led attack for the Yellow Jackets will offer a direct foil to the young squad of the Eagles. The combination of experience and team chemistry built over four years of playing together is going to be really difficult for the Eagles to compete with.
Last Time they Played: The last contest between these two was in the first round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C. on March 10. BC prevailed 66-65 in a game that was tight the whole way. Clifford is the only starter left from that game for the Eagles, total seven points and six rebounds that game. Out of the top five scorers in that game, only Tech’s Tadric Johnson is still in school. Johnson averages just under five points a game this season so there will really not be much carry over from last season’s contest.
Keys to the Game:
1) Put two quality halves together: Look at the box scores for the last five games for BC, particularly the first and second half score splits. Out of the last ten halves that BC has played, they have either won or been within three points of the total score for five of those halves. In the other five, they have been outscored by an average of 14.8 points. None of those first five halves in which they stayed close or won came in the same game and none of the last five halves came in the same game either. So, in each of the last five games, the Eagles have been a different team on the other side of the halftime buzzer. Even in the Wake Forest game, the Eagles were able to win the second half by a point. Putting together two consistently good halves is essential for an Eagles win.
2) Carter’s Efficiency: This bears constant repetition. As Eli Carter goes, so too do the Eagles. In most games this season, Carter has shot the ball an obscene amount of times, only to be masked by the fact that he does usually amass a decent amount of points. There was no greater example of his gross attempts at doing too much than the game at Clemson, where he shot just about five percent. Against Virginia Tech, he scored 19 points but he needed 19 field goal attempts to get there. That inefficiency is too much to overcome for a team with as many other holes as BC has. The Eagles need more efficiency to break into the conference win column.
3) Limit Georges-Hunt: Last week’s ACC player of the week is getting hot at the right time. He averages 22.2 ppg and 58 percent shooting over his last five, one of the biggest reasons for Tech’s recent run of success. At 6-foot-5, Georges-Hunt represents a particular matchup problem for the Eagles. With AJ Turner or Jerome Robinson in the lineup, he would not be as much of an issue. Without them, it will be interesting to see how Christian plans to slow down Georges-Hunt. Carter, Milon, and Barnes-Thompkins are likely too small to effectively cover him. Meznieks lacks the lateral quickness to stick with him. That means it will probably come down to Garland Owens sticking him. For a player who normally matches up with forwards, it will be interesting to see if that is how Christian decides to match up. Perhaps, it will be a zone defense for the Eagles to compensate posed by the potential mismatch. However they choose, it will be imperative for the Eagles to slow down Georges-Hunt to record their first victory of 2016.
Featured Image by John Bazemore / AP Photo