ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech's newfound ability to shoot from the perimeter could have a positive impact when it travels to Syracuse on Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets beat the Orange in 2014 at the Carrier Dome and lost by a point a year ago at McCamish Pavilion. Those results came from Georgia Tech teams that were "perimeterly challenged." It will be interesting to see how coach Brian Gregory's team fares against Syracuse's famous zone defense with another arrow in the quiver.
Georgia Tech (12-8, 2-5) meets Syracuse (14-8, 4-5) at noon in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
"You have to make some perimeter shots," Gregory said. "Two years ago we beat them and last year we lost by one and did not shoot the ball inside or outside."
The Yellow Jackets made a total of seven 3-pointers in those two games. A year ago they shot 27 percent from the floor.
"We've had success being able to get the ball inside, get some offensive rebounds, get some transition points," Gregory said, noting that Syracuse has not allowed a transition basket in three games. "But we're a better shooting team, so that becomes an addition to our game plan. If we had made one more 3 we would have that game."
Syracuse has won four of its last five games, which includes a two-point win at Duke and a blowout on Notre Dame on Wednesday. Coach Jim Boeheim's team is thin; only six guys get loads of playing time. But Gregory said that the lack of a deep bench should not be seen as a weakness.
"With some teams the lack of depth can impact a game," Gregory said. "I don't think Syracuse is one of those teams. They have some veteran guys and they know when to exert and when to reserve it and they do it in a smart way."
The Orange is led by freshman Malachi Richardson, who averages 13.5 points and is one of four effective 3-point shooters on the team.
"Richardson is playing as well as any freshman in the league," Gregory said. "He's a superstar in waiting and the waiting may be over. He's changed their team and given (Michael) Gbinije and (Trevor) Cooney more freedom.
Gbinije leads the team with 17.3 points and Cooney averages 14 points. Tyler Roberson averages 9.9 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Georgia Tech hopes that Marcus Georges-Hunt can continue to play at a high level. The versatile senior is averaging 25.3 points over the last three games and has lifted his season average to 16.4 points. Lately he's shown an ability to take over a game by effectively driving to the basket and picking up a foul.
"Two games ago (Virginia Tech) he fouled out and not having him there was a huge impact on that game," Gregory said. "One thing he's been able to do is draw so much attention that now you're able to get some other stuff. We had two big post baskets (against N.C. State) and that's because the defense was so focused on Marcus."
The lineup will likely continue to stay in flux. In the 90-83 win over North Carolina State, the Yellow Jackets started Nick Jacobs and James White for the first time, with Charles Mitchell not in the starting lineup for the time this season.
"There's fluidness with a couple of those spots," Gregory said. "They know they're going to get their minutes. Sometimes it's early matchups. Sometimes it's what's done in practice. Our guys know that one of our strengths is our depth. So you may see (lineup changes) the rest of the season."