Georgia Tech looking to harness momentum into showdown with Duke

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CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 04: Jose Alvarado #10 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets reacts after a play against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game at Dean Smith Center on January 04, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are hosting the Duke Basketball team on Wednesday night and the Yellow Jackets are looking to harness that momentum secured on Saturday night.

Prior to Duke's matchup with Georgia Tech, the team at Ball Durham got a chance to talk with the team from Yellow Jacked Up, the FanSided page dedicated to Georgia Tech Athletics, for a Q&A on the Yellow Jackets program.

Site expert Dylan Callaghan-Croley was kind enough to give his time and answer some questions.

Q: Well, let's start with the obvious. What happened on Saturday evening in Chapel Hill and how did it happen?

A: I would say Saturday's game against North Carolina was a perfect storm for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets were struggling heading into the game and they were bound to have a nice game sooner than later. Add in the fact that the Tar Heels this season are just not a fundamentally sound team and have their own struggles, everything came together for Josh Pastner's squad to say the least. But ultimately, the Jackets simply were able to execute in areas they normally struggle in and that made the difference. 

Q: How are things looking in the fourth year under Josh Pastner? 

A: Depending on who you ask, Josh Pastner is coaching for his job this season. Now through 14 games, the Jackets are 7-7 which isn't terrible but it could most definitely be better. With "nothing to play for" thanks to their postseason ban, the thing most Georgia Tech fans and writers are looking at is how Pastner can motivate the team week in and week out without the possibility of postseason play.  Right now, Pastner has probably done enough to keep off the hot seat but if the Jackets struggle in conference play like years past, it could be his last season in Atlanta. If you want my opinion, I think Pastner's job is probably safe either way but his seat should be a tad warm. 

Q: Who are some players to watch for on Wednesday night against Duke? 

A: For this I'm going to go to forward Moses Wright and guard Michael Devoe. Wright is the Yellow Jackets hottest player offensively and has scored 88 points in his last five games including 22 against North Carolina. Wright has been effective all around the court so far in 2019-20. While averaging 13.4 points per game, the second most on the team, he is also second of all Tech regulars when it comes to defensive rating. Wright has been rolling even during the Jackets struggles, if the rest of the team can get it going using Saturday's win as a springboard, this Tech team could make some noise. 

Devoe, on the other hand, leads the team in points per game with 16.9. After getting off to a red hot start this season, Devoe has slowed down a bit but is still on pace for a phenomenal year. He's shooting the ball effectively from everywhere on the court including 43.9% from beyond the arch. He had a quiet game against North Carolina but the true sophomore guard has rarely had back-to-back clunkers this season. He should make some noise on Wednesday.

Q: Sustaining success has been a problem over the past several years for Georgia Tech, how would the Yellow Jackets be able to pull off back-to-back wins over North Carolina and Duke? 

A: If the Yellow Jackets want to pull off the upset it comes down to three-point shooting, free throws, and turnovers. Those are three areas that have made or break the Yellow Jackets this season. Have a quality game in two of the three areas and they have success, struggle in two of the three areas (or all) and they usually lose. Additionally, all three have been problems during the Josh Pastner era consistently and seemingly have yet to be fixed. Perhaps this is the beginning but chances are that it's not. With that, I would say that in most cases two out of three would be a good start to pick up back-to-back wins but considering the opponent in Duke, I believe the Yellow Jackets would need to have their best game of the season in all three facets. 

Q: Finally, how will this game pan out? Can Georgia Tech pull off the upset of Duke at home? 

A: I believe the Yellow Jackets have an opportunity to keep this game close in the first half but ultimately the Jackets have been inconsistent under Josh Pastner and I expect to once again be a problem. The Jackets have always struggled from beyond the arc and at the free throw line, they shot well from both against North Carolina, so expecting them to be able to do so again on Wednesday may be asking too much. I think Georgia Tech makes it a good first half but Duke ends up winning comfortably in the second half. 

We'd like to thank Dylan Callaghan-Croley for his time and remind all fans that Duke and Georgia Tech will tipoff at 9:00pm EST on Wednesday, January 8 on the ACC Network.

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