December 2, 2009

Udofia leads Jackets over Siena

Georgia Tech needed a savior tonight and Mfon Udofia delivered. He finished the game with a career high of 26 points, 10 better than his previous best, including five treys to guide the Jackets to a 74-61 victory over Siena. Tech also got strong games inside from Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors who combined for 31 points on 12 for 16 shooting to go along with 17 rebounds and four blocks.

Things didn't look so good for Tech early on, but both teams struggled mightily in the first half. Siena couldn't buy a bucket, going 11 for 35 from the floor (31%) including only 3 for 18 from three point range. Tech in the meantime was hampered by foul trouble as both Lawal and Favors picked up two fouls with five minutes still remaining in the first half. The Jackets were also once again plagued by sloppy play as they turned it over 10 times and had it stolen seven times before the half. Tech managed to squeak out to a four point lead after both teams went scoreless over the last four minutes of the half before Udofia finally buried a three pointer as the horn mercifully sounded.

Jackets head coach Paul Hewitt talked about some of the first half problems that were addressed at halftime. "They just flat out put in more effort than us in the first half by beating us to loose balls, running the floor, and forcing us into turnovers," he said. "It was a matter of competing more for the loose balls, stopping guys from driving the paint, and out running them down the court in a foot race. Those are the three areas that we talked about at halftime and I thought in the second half that we did a better job defensively."

Udofia's big basket was a sign of things to come for the Jackets as they came out with new game plan in the second half; give it to Mfon and let him shoot the rock. He effectively took the game over, draining back to back three pointers with six minutes to go in the game. He then made one of the most impressive shots in his young career. With time running out in the shot clock Udofia drove to the hole, but had to pull up short in order to beat the buzzer. He threw up a high arching one handed floater that dropped perfectly through the net to give the Jackets a 14 point lead with only four minutes remaining.

Siena head coach Fran McCaffery had high praise for Udofia after the game. According to him, "I haven't seen him shoot the ball like that on film. He is a great player and could be a key for their team moving forward. If he can play like that then they are not only one of the premiere teams in the country."

Tech will next look to dismantle another tough opponent as they play Pacific 10 representative Southern California at 6PM on Saturday.

Game Notes:

Siena played without star player, Edwin Ubiles, who was in street clothes after hurting his knee in warm-ups during a previous game against Northeastern.

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