MILWAUKEE -- Some quick postgame thoughts on Georgia Tech's 64-59 win before I do the customary sprint to the press conferences (and back) in t-minus 30 minutes:
It was at times hard to tell from the atmosphere in the arena -- too many Ohio State fans, I guess? -- but this was one of the more intense games we've had all of Friday. No team ever lead by more than a couple of baskets, the lead was traded several times in the closing minutes of the game, and just when either team seemed ready to go on a run, the other got a huge bucket to keep things within reach. It may not have been the prettiest basketball we've seen all year, but at least it was competitive.
Today was not James Anderson's day. The star Cowboys guard never really found his rhythm. Anderson often used two and three screens in a possession to try and free himself for an open look, frequently to no avail. He finished with 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting. (Anderson' s biggest contribution was a steal and a dunk in the final four minutes of regulation, which tied the score at 54-54. A more dubious contribution was the steal he gave up to Iman Shumpert in the final two minutes, which led to two Shumpert free throws. Another dubious one: The turnover in the final seconds, as the Cowboys trailed by three, that effectively sealed the game for Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech's strategy was pretty transparent throughout the game, but it took until the second half for the Yellow Jackets to execute it. It's simple: Get the ball into the paint. Get it to Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal (and, failing that, Zachary Peacock). And let them go to work. This has really been the operating strategy for Georgia Tech for much of the year -- Favors and Lawal are the team's top two scorers for a reason -- but the process is at times far more frustrating than it should be. Against a team like Oklahoma State, undersized on the front line, Georgia Tech should take advantage. For much of the second half -- which is to say, finally -- they did.
Oklahoma State was, however, able to overcome that size difference on their own offensive end, where they got plenty of good looks at the basket throughout the game. Those looks usually came from good motion offense; when the Cowboys grew stagnant and tried to create scores one-on-one, the Jackets were too athletic and long and Oklahoma State struggled to get clean shots. (There's a reason Tech's defense was so much better than its offense this year: Athleticism is much more of an asset on defense. Today proved why.)