ACC tourney bye in hand, Georgia Tech visits Wake Forest

NCAA Basketball

Georgia Tech has done so many good things the past few weeks to put itself in position for special accomplishments.

Now the Yellow Jackets can’t afford a hiccup in their regular-season finale.

“Look at our numbers,” coach Josh Pastner said in making a case for an NCAA Tournament bid. “With the wins that we have, a no-brainer.”

Georgia Tech visits struggling Wake Forest on Friday night in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Yellow Jackets (14-8, 10-6 ACC) hold a five-game winning streak. They’re four games above .500 in ACC play for the first time since March 1996. They’ve also reached the 10-win mark in the ACC in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history.

All this has added up to guaranteeing Georgia Tech an ACC Tournament bye for the first time since 2005.

By topping Duke in overtime Tuesday night, the list of achievements now includes victories over the Blue Devils, North Carolina and Kentucky in the same season.

The Yellow Jackets insist this level of success has come about because of following the process.

“We focused on defense,” forward Moses Wright said. “We know our offense is going to come.”

Wake Forest (6-14, 3-14) is on a six-game losing streak, unable to stay close in recent losses. That included Tuesday night’s setback at Pittsburgh, which also has been on a slide.

“The morale has not been bad, not at all,” first-year coach Steve Forbes said. “The thing I’ve really been trying to push is to play for each other.”

Wake Forest has connected on 10 or more shots from 3-point range in eight games this season. The Demon Deacons haven’t shown some of the traits that Georgia Tech has.

“I can see why they’ve won the games that they’ve won,” Forbes said. “They trust each other. They can take you deep into a shot clock, make you guard long possessions and then get good shots.”

Wake Forest opened its long-delayed portion of its ACC slate Jan. 3 by losing 70-54 to Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Guard Ian DuBose didn’t play in that game. He made an impact when returning to action but has since faded.

“Ian has hit the wall,” Forbes said.

Meanwhile, guard Jose Alvarado of Georgia Tech hasn’t practiced much lately because of a hamstring injury. He didn’t score in the Duke game until fewer than 13 minutes remained in regulation, although he finished with 10 points.

“I think he has lost a little bit of rhythm,” Pastner said.

–Field Level Media

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