Video courtesy of ACC Digital Network

ATLANTA, GA – “It was a tale of two halves,” said Tech head coach Josh Pastner.

Following an offensively inept first half, one in which Georgia Tech (15-10, 6-6) shot just 16.7% with 5 made field goals and 10 turnovers, the Yellow Jackets surged in the second on their way to a 65-54 win over Boston College (9-17, 2-11).

Tech’s two halves were simply a dichotomy. Comparing the first vs. the second, respectively:

  • 15 vs. 50 – the total number of points scored by the Jackets
  • 17% vs. 66% – the Jackets’ field goal percentage
  • 7 vs. 14 – the total number of free throw attempts by the Jackets
  • 10 vs. 4 – the total number of turnovers by the Jackets

“I’ve never seen anything like it in the first half,” said Pastner. “I went in there [during the first half under 4 timeout] and told them, guys, I’ve been in basketball 25-30 years and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s gotta turn our way. I said ‘God bless all of y’all’. I said we’re due to make a lay-up here or there.”

Sure enough, the shots started falling.

Tech shooting guard Tadric Jackson led the Jackets throughout the ballgame on the scoreboard. Despite early struggles around the rim of his own, he dropped in 9 of the team’s 15 first half points. He raised the stakes in the second with 20 points more, giving him a new career high of 29.

“Towards the end of the first half he really started to drive the ball,” said Eagles head coach Jim Christian. “[He’s] a good post-up guard, so in that area he’s a little bit of a match-up problem for us, a big guard like that. He played really well.”

Jackson’s 29 points were also the 9th most by a Georgia Tech player in an ACC game.

Point guard Justin Moore, forward Josh Okogie and center Ben Lammers also stuffed the stat sheet while playing big minutes.

Moore, healthy for the first time in weeks, added 5 points, 6 assists and 8 rebounds in 27 minutes. He hit just his second 3-pointer of the season to give Tech a 34-32 lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the way. Moore’s work on the glass earned praised from his teammates and coaches.

“Our guards did a great job of rebounding,” said Okogie. “Justin had about 8 rebounds, so that’s big for him.”

“I thought Justin Moore was fantastic,” said Pastner. “Eight defensive rebounds, 6 assists, 1 turnover and [he] hits the biggest three to give us the lead.”

Okogie’s continued aggression on both ends of the court allowed him to notch his second career double-double with 12 points and 12 defensive rebounds. He tacked on 2 blocks and 2 steals in 39 minutes.

Double-doubles are nothing new to Lammers who reeled in his 12th of the season with 15 points and 17 rebounds. Lammers was 2 boards shy of the Georgia Tech record in ACC games.

With 12 ACC games down, the Yellow Jackets are .500 in league play at 6-6. Tech has exceeded nearly all preseason expectations already. But why stop here?

The possibility of an NCAA tournament bid is now squarely on the table. Next up is a visit to Miami on Wednesday, a game the experts surely expect Tech to lose. It is the next opportunity for the Jackets to prove the pundits wrong, and it’s another chance to prove they belong in the big dance.

Video courtesy of ACC Digital Network

ATLANTA, GA - Once is chance. Twice is coincidence. Third time is a trend.

That's what we have now, after the Yellow Jackets (13-8, 5-4) knocked off their third top 15 opponent at home in three tries. This time, Georgia Tech went toe-to-toe with #14 Notre Dame and dropped the Irish 62-60 via last second dramatics.

Tied at 60 all with under 30 seconds remaining, Notre Dame held the ball with 4 seconds separating the game and shot clock. A chance for last shot or, worst case, overtime was almost within grasp. With one timeout remaining, Irish coach Mike Brey chose to let it ride and handed the keys to the game to his energizer bunny, point guard Matt Farrell.

Farrell, maestro of many pick and rolls throughout the game, tried once more. Like many times before, Farrell's attempt was met by hawkish Georgia Tech defense, this time from point guard Josh Heath. Needing to make a play with 7 seconds to go, Farrell forced up a tough one-handed leaner that hit the back iron and slid off the rim.

The rest will find its way into Georgia Tech highlights for years to come.

Jackets' shooting guard Tadric Jackson hauled in the weak side rebound, turned up court and hit freshman phenom Josh Okogie in stride down the right sideline with 2.3 seconds to go.

"I looked up at the clock and saw that I had time, saw 4 seconds on the clock," said Jackson. "The last thing I remembered I saw Josh [Okogie] just sprinting so hard, and I had no choice but to give it to him."

Upon catching the ball just over mid-court, Okogie took just one dribble and two steps en route to the game-winning layup as time expired. McCamish Pavilion roared. And Okogie, shut down and in foul trouble for much of the game, proved one play can make up for the rest.

"I knew what time was on the clock before I caught it, so when I caught the ball, I just knew I had to get going fast," said Okogie. "As soon as I laid it up, I knew it was going in."

Make no mistake about it, the outcome was no fluke. Tech led 35-31 at the half. The Jackets made a normally efficient Notre Dame offense look ordinary to the tune of 40% shooting for the game. Irish captain Steve Vasturia was held to 5 points, 10 points short of his season average, on 1 for 7 shooting.

"It was hard for us to get into any offensive rhythm," said Brey. "The guards that [Pastner] plays can all play defense. You got the shot blockers in the back. We worked like heck to get to 60 points today."

As the wins continue to mount for Georgia Tech, including those of resume-boosting variety, expectations are burgeoning in parallel. Eyes around the program are refocusing toward the NCAA tournament, a sight almost inconceivable prior to ACC play.

Joining the increasing expectations is one more unmistakable rise; that is the enthusiasm around the Georgia Tech basketball program. McCamish Pavilion was a sight to behold, game highlights aside. An oft late arriving crowd was near capacity by tip. The student section was full 30 minutes prior. Those unable to enter due to max capacity waited outside thru halftime for a chance to get in.

The excitement is back. The "Thrill" has come back to the "Thrillerdome". And the 2016-2017 Yellow Jackets have earned every bit of it.

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Georgia Tech true freshman Dedrick Mills (#26) rushed for career-high 169 yards and earned MVP honors in Tech's rout of Kentucky at the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl.

JACKSONVILLE, FL – One season after snapping an 18-year bowl streak, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (9-4, 4-4) got back on track in a big way today in sunny Florida. Saturday’s 33-18 thrashing of the Kentucky Wildcats (7-6, 4-4) put Head Coach Paul Johnson on the postgame podium to accept the TaxSlayer Bowl victors trophy on behalf of the 2016 edition of the Jackets.

Perhaps there’s something to New Year’s Eve bowl games for Tech. Much like 2014’s Orange Bowl victory over Mississippi State, 2016’s game versus the Wildcats proved the Jackets are capable of winning big on the date. And like 2014, contributions came from multiple phases of the game.

As they say, there are many ways to skin a ‘Cat.

First, and with little time wasted, Georgia Tech’s defense took the field for the first series of the game. Four plays into Kentucky’s opening possession, senior captain Pat Gamble got to Wildcats quarterback Stephen Johnson in the backfield culminating in a strip sack. Without a second’s hesitation, linebacker P.J. Davis scooped the ball and scored on a 38 yard touchdown return.

“That was a great play,” said Paul Johnson. “Trying to run a sprint-out pass. P.J. came on a blitz, [Gamble] slapped the ball loose, picked it up, was able to get it in the end zone. Can't think of a better way to start the game. That was a great start.”

Throughout most of the game, the Georgia Tech defense stifled the Kentucky offense. The Wildcats managed just 3 points and 199 total yards through the game’s first 3 quarters, and the Jackets’ defense applied enough pressure in the backfield to keep their third SEC opponent of the year off balance.

“It was very important for us in the game plan,” said Gamble. “We had to get pressure when they threw the ball. We knew they was going to run the football. When it was time for them to throw the ball, we had to push and get some pressure, man. Lucky we did that.”

Second, the Jackets spread option offense churned enough to keep the Kentucky defense on the field for 32:22 of the game. True freshman Dedrick Mills carried the load with 31 carries, 169 yards and 1 touchdown on way to game MVP. He seemingly gained strength and confidence as the game wore on, with 82 of those yards coming in the 4th quarter alone.

“It wasn't that tough. It wasn't that tough,” said Mills. “Behind the offensive line, running off their blocks. Made it easier for me to find holes and get through them.”

Mills’ quip brought a chuckle to senior captain and quarterback Justin Thomas’ face. Thomas himself was largely forced to feed Mills and the A-Backs throughout the game due to Kentucky’s gameplan to take the ball out of his hands. But it wasn’t enough to keep him from finding paydirt on a backbreaking 21 yard draw with 49 seconds to go in the first half.

The play that put Tech up 17-3 highlighted many of Thomas’ trademarks in his swan song campaign: first showing patience to pull the Wildcats defensive line upfield, next accelerating on a dime downfield bowing out toward the sideline, and finally proving otherworldly athleticism by stretching out toward the pylon for 6. The Thomas run is a microcosm of the legacy he leaves at Georgia Tech as he moves on to the next phase of his journey.

“I mean, he's had a great career, no doubt. He's such a great kid. He's just been a joy to coach, a joy to work with,” said Johnson. “Sometimes you have to be gone for a year or two before people really realize what you did. There's no question that he'll go down as, you know, one of the greats at Georgia Tech. I mean, he's had a heck of a career.”

Finally, speaking of great, there have been few if any better kickers in Georgia Tech’s history than the third senior captain, Harrison Butker. Butker entered the bowl game needing a single point to break Georgia Tech’s career points record. He did so with flying colors, converting all 4 of his field goal attempts and 3 extra points en route to a 15 point day. He set a bowl record with 4 field goals, breaking a previous Tech record of 2.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Butker. “Especially at Tech where throughout my career I’ve only had maybe 1 or 2 a game. And whenever I did have 3 field goals I usually didn’t make all of them. To make all 4, I’m really happy.”

A blocked punt by junior linebacker Terrell Lewis in the 2nd quarter added one more play to the Jackets’ Special Teams highlight reel. It also led to a successful 51 yard field goal attempt by Butker as the first half clock expired.

With the win, Tech finished the 2016 season on a 4 game win streak. They are 3-0 against SEC opponents and 5-1 in their last 6 games versus the conference. And like 2014, Yellow Jackets nation rings in the New Year victorious and with some fancy hardware on its way home to Atlanta.