ATLANTA — In the span of a week, Michigan played three games against NCAA Tournament-hopeful teams on national television. In that span, it has struggled to prove that it is a tournament-worthy team itself.
No. 3 Georgia Tech (4-0) blasted the Wolverines (3-3) 99-68 last night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. It was the third straight loss for the Wolverines, who dropped two games last week in the Preseason NIT in New York.
“We are concerned about our team,” Michigan coach Tommy Amaker said. “We are concerned about the psyche when you lose a ball game with this point differential and the margin of victory by Tech.”
The Yellow Jackets dominated in every aspect of the game. Most notably, they turned what is thought to be Michigan’s strongest weapon — its backcourt — into its Achilles’ heel.
Guards Daniel Horton and Dion Harris, Michigan’s leading scorers this season, combined for just 12 points. Harris scored eight points on 3-of-13 shooting in 30 minutes of play. Horton’s play was most disappointing of all, as the junior scored just four points and fouled out with 11:33 remaining in the game.
The dismal night from Horton and Harris left Amaker more than just concerned about his backcourt for the rest of the season.
“I thought (our) floor game was horrendous,” Amaker said. “And we aren’t going to be a good team or even have a chance of competing at the level of the teams and programs we are going to have to face if those kids don’t play better, make better decisions and, at the very least, (be) out there on the court.”
On the other side of the court, Georgia Tech’s backcourt looked absolutely stellar. Guards Will Bynum, B.J. Elder and Jarrett Jack scored a combined 62 points, with Elder leading the way with 27 points. The senior turned in a shooting night that most can only dream of. He finished 10-of-12 from the field and 7-of-9 from 3-point range.
Bynum did his share of damage as well, shooting 8-for-12 while adding three treys of his own.
“We shot the ball well,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. “When you’re making threes, it gives you a boost. And in this building, as loud as it gets, it’s a major boost when you shoot the ball.”
The home crowd was rocking early and often.
Michigan kept pace with the Yellow Jackets for the first four minutes of the game, trailing just 10-9 early on. But then the flood gates broke open.
The Yellow Jackets ripped off a 20-0 run out of the media timeout to open up a 30-9 lead. They scored nine points in under a minute and a half.
Michigan managed to stop the bleeding with a 3-pointer from Harris and a basket from Horton, but the remedy was only temporary.
Georgia Tech continued the onslaught for the remainder of the first half. Behind the hot shooting of Bynum and Elder, the Yellow Jackets piled on the points. The tandem hit seven of its 13 3-pointers in the first half.
As a team, Georgia Tech shot 64.2 percent from the field and 56.5 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Jack sank a bucket as the half came to a close, putting the Yellow Jackets up 59-32. It was a hole more than large enough to bury Michigan.
“It’s very frustrating — a very disappointing loss,” Horton said. “I can’t even put it into words how frustrating it is.”