Jan. 19, 2018
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech continues a stretch of four games that includes three top-25 teams, visiting 15th-ranked North Carolina for a nationally-televised game that tips at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Yellow Jackets (10-8, 3-2 ACC), who have five of their last seven games, had their four-game winning streak snapped, 64-48, at home against No. 2 Virginia Thursday night. Tech has beaten two top-25 teams in ACC play this year, No. 15 Miami and No. 25 Notre Dame, both at home. In their second season under Josh Pastner, the 2017 ACC Coach of the Year, the Jackets have developed into one of the nation’s top defensive teams, ranked No. 14 nationally in scoring defense.
The Tar Heels (15-4, 4-2 ACC), ranked as high as fifth in the nation during December, have rebounded from a 1-2 ACC start to defeat Boston College, Notre Dame and Clemson in succession. North Carolina averages 82.8 points per game, ranking 16th nationally in offensive efficiency, and leads the nation in rebound margin.
Saturday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and streamed live on the ESPN app. Radio coverage is provided by the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network and can be heard in Atlanta on flagship station 680 the Fan (680 AM/93.7 FM). The game can also be heard nationally on SiriusXM satellite radio (Sirius ch. 134, XM ch. 193, Internet ch. 955).
THE STARTING LINEUP
Josh Pastner‘s Georgia Tech teams are 5-5 against top-25 teams (5-2 at home), including a 2-2 mark this season (2-1 at home).
Tech is in the midst of a four-game stretch that includes three teams ranked in the top 25 — No. 2/2 Virginia, No. 15/14 North Carolina, Florida State (receiving votes) and No. 20/18 Clemson. If Florida State were to return to the top 25 in next week’s rankings, the Yellow Jackets will have played a stretch of four consecutive games against top-25 teams for the first time since the 2000-01 season (No. 13/14 North Carolina, No. 17/17/ Maryland, No. 10/9 Virginia, No. 6/6 Wake Forest). Tech went 2-2 against that gauntlet in its first season under head coach Paul Hewitt, on the way to an NCAA Tournament berth.
In the last two seasons (since Pastner arrived), no team has more wins at home over AP Top 15 teams as an unranked opponent than Georgia Tech (Tech and Colorado with four each, Syracuse with three).
Tech is 3-2 in the ACC for the second straight year, entering the weekend in third place behind Virginia (6-0) and Louisville (4-1).
Tech has lost its last four games in Chapel Hill. A win against North Carolina Saturday would be its first at the Smith Center since Jan. 16, 2010, a 73-71 win fueled by a 30-point game from Iman Shumpert.
Head coach Josh Pastner needs two victories to reach 200 for his head coaching career. In nine-plus seasons, Pastner has a record of 198-97.
Five Atlantic Coast Conference teams are currently ranked in the Associated Press poll – Virginia (2), Duke (5), North Carolina (15), Clemson (20) and Miami (25), while Florida State, Louisville and Notre Dame are receiving votes. The Jackets have already faced UCLA (No. 21 in preseason) and Northwestern (No. 20 in preseason), as well as Tennessee, which is now No. 24.
SERIES VS. NORTH CAROLINA
North Carolina has a 67-25 lead in the all-time series between the two teams, and a 53-23 advantage since Tech joined the ACC.
Georgia Tech snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series on New Year’s Eve last season by opening its ACC schedule with a 75-63 home-court upset of the Tar Heels, who would go on to win the national championship. It was the Jackets’ first win in the series since a 78-58 win in Atlanta on Jan. 16, 2011.
Before that, Tech had won four games in a row for its longest winning streak in the series. Tech is 11-13 against North Carolina dating back to the 2001-02 season.
Tech is 8-5 in games played away from Chapel Hill since 2000-01, including three ACC Tournament wins. The Jackets are 9-13 against the Tar Heels under Roy Williams, 9-14 against Williams all-time. Tech’s win over the Tar Heels last season was Josh Pastner‘s first game against them as a head coach.
Tech has lost 11 of the last 12 meetings in the Smith Center and is 4-24 all-time in the building. Counting regular-season games in Greensboro, Tech is 5-31 on the road against UNC.
In ACC Tournament play, the Yellow Jackets have won five of nine meetings, and Tech has won the last three encounters (2004, 2005, 2010). Two of Tech’s five tournament wins occurred in championship games, the 1985 final in Atlanta and the 1993 final in Charlotte.
Tech’s greatest success in its series with North Carolina occurred during the middle 1990s when the Jackets won five of seven meetings, including three straight wins over No. 1-ranked Tar Heel teams during the 1993 and 1994 campaigns.
COACH PASTNER AUDIO FROM FRIDAY
Josh Pastner‘s Georgia Tech teams are 5-2 against top-25 teams at home (5-5 overall), including a 2-1 mark this season (2-2 overall).
Pastner has started the same lineup for the past seven games, with Abdoulaye Gueye playing the “4” position. Pastner has used six different starting lineups this season.
Tech has had its full roster to practice only for the last four games and played a solid 7-man rotation for the first time in ACC play against Notre Dame Jan. 10. Injuries or other absences have forced Tech players to miss 35 games cumulatively this season, and the Jackets had not played a game with all 11 scholarship players healthy and available until the Yale game on Jan. 6.
Alvarado and Lammers have started every game this season. Lammers has started Tech’s last 55 consecutive games.
Tech’s playing rotation this season features four freshmen and a first-year graduate transfer who have combined to start 37 games and log 45 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ total minutes.
Tech has averaged 64.3 points and allowed just 59.3 per game in its seven games since the Christmas break (5-2 record). Opponents have shot 40.1 percent overall, 32.8 percent from three-point range. The Jackets have outscored the five opponents from the free throw line 13.3 to 8.9 per game, and outrebounded them 36.1-30.4. Tech also has averaged 5.9 blocks and 6.6 steals per game.
ACC opponents have connected on just 39.6 percent from the floor, 28.6 percent from three-point range, and averaged 58.6 points per game against the Yellow Jackets.
Tech had committed just 10.8 turnovers per game against the ACC and forced 13.3 before Virginia, which forced 18 Tech turnovers and scored 16 points off them. For the season, Tech has committed 12.8 turnovers per game this season, down from 14.3 at the same point last season. Tech has just 77 in its last seven games.
After netting no second-chance points at Notre Dame on Dec. 30, the Yellow Jackets snared 55 offensive rebounds and scored 62 points from them in their last five games.
After a two-game drought against Miami and Yale, Tadric Jackson has scored 11, 13 and 14 points in Tech’s last three games, hitting 18-of-40 shots from the floor. The 6-2 senior has had 35 double-digit scoring games off the bench as a Yellow Jacket, 26 of those since the beginning of last season. He has reached double figures 22 times in his last 26 games and 36 times since the beginning of last season.
Jackson is hitting 56.8 percent of his shots (75-of-132) from inside the three-point arc this season, and a career-best 48.6 percent overall.
Ben Lammers blocked six shots against Virginia, two off his season high of eight vs. Bethune-Cookman and the Tech record for an ACC game of eight, shared by Lammers last season vs. Virginia Tech (1/18/17) and Alvin Jones vs. Maryland (1/6/01). He improved his career total to 231 blocks, good for sole possession of fourth place in Tech history and needing 12 to catch John Salley (243 from 1982-86) for third place.
Abdoulaye Gueye has averaged 8.7 points (22-of-37 FG) and 6.3 rebounds in six games since sitting out the Coppin State game with an ankle injury. Making his sixth straight start and 14th of the season against Virginia, he scored seven points against Virginia (2-3 FG, 3-4 FT) but his two rebounds were his lowest total over the six-game stretch.
Gueye has scored 52 points in the six games since sitting out Coppin State on Dec. 27. He had scored 70 points in 39 career games prior to Coppin State.
Josh Okogie snapped a string of 25 consecutive games scoring in double figures against Virginia, scoring nine points in 36 minutes.
Okogie has averaged 17.8 points per game in his 10 games back on the court, including 16.8 in ACC games so far. He averaged 16.1 points as a freshman, 17.1 against the ACC. The 6-4 sophomore has hit 43.4 percent of his shots from three-point range and 80.6 percent from the free throw line. The sophomore guard has scored in double figures 41 times in 47 career games. He has scored 30 or more three times (two vs. ACC), 20 or more 13 times, six times in an ACC game.
In seven games against top-25 opponents Georgia Tech has hosted at McCamish Pavilion, Okogie has averaged 20 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He has shot 46.7 (43-of-92) percent from the floor, 6-of-17 from three-point range and 78.6 percent (48-of-61) from the free throw line.
In eight fewer games, Okogie has pulled ahead of Jose Alvarado for the team lead in free throw attempts, 72 to 65. Okogie is averaging an ACC-leading 7.2 free throw attempts per game, nearly well above his average of 6.5 as a freshman, which ranked third in the ACC.
Jose Alvarado played 40 minutes for the fourth time this season against Virginia. He ranks 10th in the ACC averaging 34.7 minutes per game, eighth in the ACC in average minutes per conference game (38.8). After missing nearly the entire second half of the Coppin State game with a head injury, Alvarado has played 232 minutes in Tech’s last six games, sitting out just eight minutes.
Lammers has creeped into Georgia Tech’s top 20 all-time leading rebounders, currently standing 17th with 679. He needs seven to catch Michael Maddox (687 from 1994-98) for 16th place.
Lammers is averaging 36.0 minutes this season, sixth-most in the ACC (38.2 mpg vs. the ACC), while Alvarado averages 34.7, 10th in the ACC (38.8 mpg in ACC games). Okogie averages 35.1 (37.0 in ACC games), but has not played enough games to qualify for the league rankings.
Jackson continues to close in on the 1,000-career-point-mark, currently at 974. At his current career-best average of 13.7 points per game, it will take the senior guard two more games to become the 44th Georgia Tech player to reach 1,000. Lammers has 890 career points, and would need 10 games at his current 11.7 per game rate to reach 1,000.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its second year under head coach Josh Pastner. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won three ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993), played in the NCAA Tournament 16 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBB) and Instagram.