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Gamethread: No. 25 LSU vs. Georgia Tech, 5:00 P.M., ESPN2

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Back in action

NCAA Basketball: Belmont at Louisiana State Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

After a near two-week absence due to final exams, the LSU men’s basketball team (8-0) is back to work in Atlanta against Georgia Tech as part of the 2021 Holiday Hoopsgiving showcase event.

The Holiday Hoopsgiving is yet another one of those pre-conference play showcase events but it’s not a tournament like the Emerald Coast Classic. The game will be played inside State Farm Arena, home of the Atlanta Hawks, and will be carried on ESPN2.

Georgia Tech (5-3) is an okay at best team; the Yellow Jackets were picked to finish 10th in the ACC and are currently ranked 146th in Saturday’s NET rankings. KenPom thinks a little more highly of the Yellow Jackets with Tech checking in at No. 86.

They certainly get plenty of offense in the form of Michael Devoe who currently leads the ACC in scoring with 23.6 points per game and shooting an impressive 54 percent from three. The problem for Tech is if Devoe isn’t filling it up—like in their loss Sunday to North Carolina—there isn’t a viable second or third scoring option. Jordan Usher is the second leading scorer at 13 points a game, but after that it’s a mix of guys averaging six or seven points.

“Georgia Tech has a great scorer with Devoe and Usher and some of their other guys. They run a Princeton style offense which we haven’t played this year,” Will Wade said. “Defensively, they play every defense known to man. They do a bunch of different stuff so we are going to have to be prepared for changing defense and a lot of different looks. They make it very hard to get in rhythm against them because of all the different defenses that they play.”

One thing I noticed when doing my homework on Georgia Tech is they’ve shown a tendency to let second halves get away from them. Georgia Tech’s point differential in second halves is actually -2 through eight games and they’ve allowed 58 more points in the second half than the first (or, put another way, they allow 30 points per game in first halves versus 38 points per game in the second).

That bodes well for an LSU team that’s been off for the last 10 days and may need some time to get back to game speed. Of course anything can happen in college basketball, but Georgia Tech feels like the kind of opponent LSU can shutdown. As a team, Tech shoots 68 percent from the free throw line and only 33 percent from three if you subtract Devoe’s numbers. If the elite LSU defense can take away Devoe, Georgia Tech doesn’t have enough viable threats on offense to challenge the Tigers.