ATLANTA — Paul Hewitt wishes he had an answer for the riddle that is his team's 3-point defense.
But he doesn't.
"Some of it is just bad luck," the Georgia Tech coach said Monday, two days after the road weary Yellow Jackets witnessed yet another opponent put on a long-range shooting clinic inside its home gymnasium. "We've run into some pretty hot-shooting teams."
With another one coming to Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday night in the form of Virginia Tech (13-5, 3-2 ACC), a team that nearly set a single-game school field goal percentage record during its last ACC contest, Hewitt hopes his own group finds a way to clamp down and reject the misfortune that has followed his group on the road.
First, it was at Northwestern on a frigid night in Evanston, Ill. The Wildcats lit up their home Welsh-Ryan Arena with a 10-for-12 3-point shooting performance in the first half that got them rolling toward a blowout victory.
Earlier this month, Clemson added to Georgia Tech's defensive woes when the Tigers converted all nine of their second-half 3-pointers at Littlejohn Coliseum to turn what was a one-point halftime lead into a double-digit romp.
Then on Saturday, in Georgia Tech's fifth conference contest, Virginia stormed past the Yellow Jackets (9-9, 2-3) by going 10-for-15 from beyond the arc. The performance was enough to push Georgia Tech out of John Paul Jones Arena with its sixth road loss of the season. The Yellow Jackets haven't won a game on the road since last January.
Combined, opponents are shooting 53 percent from beyond the 3-point arc when the Yellow Jackets play them on the road. At home, that figure drops dramatically to 37 percent.
Still, 3-point defense remains a concern regardless of where they are playing.
"We've got to do a better job defending the 3-point line," Yellow Jackets guard Iman Shumpert said. "If guys are open, they're going to knock shots down; you've got to think of it that way. We're in conference play now, so guys are going to hit every shot."
While Hewitt ultimately agreed with Shumpert, saying that he has noticed often where his players get caught out of position, leading to scenarios where 3-point shooters get open for their shots, he still wonders if such team performances can truly be explained.
"I would like to see them do it in a gym by themselves (with no one guarding them)," Hewitt said, joking.
Part of the reason the Yellow Jackets are getting out of position is due to their aggressive style of play, Hewitt said. He wants them to find a good balance of aggression and patience, but he doesn't dare dream of asking his players to pull up too much.
"I want us to maintain an aggressive posture," he said of his team that ranks among the top 10 nationally in steals per game, "but we can't lose those guys on the perimeter."
The Yellow Jackets definitely don't want to lose track of Hokies guard Malcolm Delaney on Tuesday. The 6-foot-3 senior ranks among the ACC's best scorers, averaging 18.9 points per game.