Tech Takes on St. John’s in Hoophall Miami Invitational

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Miami, Fla.  –  Georgia Tech travels to Miami Saturday for the back end of a two-game road trip, facing undefeated St. John’s of the Big East Conference at 12 noon Saturday in the Hoophall Miami Invitational at American Airlines Arena.

Tech (4-2), in its third season under head coach Josh Pastner, has won all four of its home games by double digits over Lamar, East Carolina, UT Rio Grande Valley and Prairie Vew A&M, and lost both of its road games, Nov. 13 at No. 5 Tennessee (66-53) and Wednesday night at Northwestern (67-61).

St. John’s (6-0), in its fourth season under head coach Chris Mullin, has won three games at home easily, including an 84-65 win Tuesday night over Maryland-Eastern Shore, and has a 19-point win at Rutgers and neutral-court wins over California and VCU to its credit. The Red Storm are receiving votes in both national polls.

Saturday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPNU and streamed live through the ESPN app. Radio coverage is provided on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, airing in Atlanta on 680 AM and 93.7 FM the Fan. The Tech broadcast is available on satellite radio (XM ch. 381, internet ch. 971).

STARTING LINEUP

  • 104th season – Georgia Tech is playing its 104th season of basketball and has an all-time record of 1,366-1,228.
  • On the road – Tech plays away from home just four times before January. Tech played at No. 5 Tennessee in the season’s second game on Nov. 13, and this week played at Northwestern and takes on St. John’s Saturday in the Hoophall Miami Invitational. Tech also visits Arkansas on Dec. 19.
  • Tough slate – Eight opponents on Georgia Tech’s schedule were ranked in the top 25 of the preseason AP and coaches polls, including No. 5 Tennessee and ACC foes Duke (4/3), Virginia (5/5), North Carolina (8/7), Virginia Tech (15/17), Syracuse (16/14), Florida State (17/15) and Clemson (22/23).
  • Defending well – Georgia Tech ranks second in the ACC in scoring defense (No. 16 nationally) and leads the conference in field goal percentage defense (No. 10 nationally). Tech is No. 2 in three-point percentage defense (14th nationally) and steals.
  • Longer bench – Tech has deployed at least eight players for significant minutes (10 or more per game) in each of its six games so far, nine with the injured Evan Cole available. Tech’s bench has played 38.4 percent of available minutes, 28th in the nation according to KenPom.com. Tech reserves are outscoring its opponents 32.2 to 15.3 per game.
  • Triple your fun – Georgia Tech has averaged 6.3 three-point field goals in six games, 38 total threes made by six different players. Tech averaged just 4.3 through its first four games last season and finished the year at 4.9, last in the ACC.
  • Creating offense with defense – Georgia Tech has forced an average of 16.5 turnovers per game, 2.5 per game more than through five games last season, and has turned those into 16.7 points per game (24 percent of total points).
  • Picking up the pace – Through six games, Tech is averaging 69.8 possessions per game to rank No. 189 in the nation, according to KenPom.com. The Jackets averaged 66.1 possessions last year (277th).
  • Unlucky 13 – Tech was picked to finish 13th in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season in a vote of the ACC media, ahead of Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. The Yellow Jackets finished 13th last season.
  • Seven – Number of freshmen and sophomores expected to play significant roles for the Yellow Jackets this season.
  • 607 – Career points for Brandon Alston, the most of any current Tech player. Shembari Phillips is next with 397, followed by Jose Alvarado with 385 and Abdoulaye Gueye with 247. Georgia Tech finished last season with a trio of 1,000-point career scorers on its roster for the first time since 1989.

SERIES VS. ST. JOHN’S

  • St. John’s leads the overall series with Georgia Tech, 5-4, having won the last meeting, 69-58, in the third-place game of the Barclays Center Classic on Nov. 30, 2013, five years and one day ago.
  • Eight of the nine previous meetings have taken place on neutral floors in early season tournament events. The one on-campus meeting took place at Georgia Tech’s Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 21, 2003, a 79-66 Tech win that was part of the team’s 12-0 start that season.
  • Three meetings have taken place in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. The first meeting took place in the quarterfinals of the Post-Season NIT in 1970, also at Madison Square Garden, with the Red Storm winning 56-55.

TEAM NOTES

  • Tech shot 48.3 percent and scored 40 points in the second half at Northwestern, cutting a 28-point deficit down to just five. But the Jackets’ 61 points and 37.7-percent shooting for the game were their second-lowest of the season (53 points, 27.6 percent at Tennessee).
  • Tech was outrebounded (34-32) for the third time in six games.
  • Northwestern was the first Tech opponent to shoot 40 percent or better from the floor this season (42.6 percent). Tech came into the game leading the ACC in field goal percentage defense, which is now 36 percent, and No. 2 in three-point percentage yield, which is now 25.7 percent (Northwestern went 7-for-20).
  • Tech has yielded just 27 three-point field goals in its first six games (4.5 per game, 25.7 percent). The Jackets allowed an average of 7.1 per game and a success rate of 37.9 percent last season.
  • Tech has connected on just 32.4 percent of its field goals in two road games, and 22.6 percent of its three-point attempts. But it has converted 77.8 percent of its free throw tries and scored 35 of its 114 points there.
  • Tech connected on only four three-point field goals, and has hit just eight in two road games (31 in four home games).
  • Tech has attempted 116 threes (19.3 per game) and made 38 (6.3 per game), compared to averages of 15.3 attempts and 4.9 made per game in 2018-19. Four different Yellow Jackets have made at least five three-point field goals so far this season. Tech has hit 32.8 percent of its threes for the season; only one Jackets team since 2010 has finished the season with a higher percentage (35.7 in 2015-16).
  • Tech has all six opponents under their season scoring averages – breakdown by game: Lamar 81.0 (69), Tennessee 82.8 (66), East Carolina 72.7 (54), UTRGV 70.2 (44), Prairie View A&M 69.2 (54), Northwestern 76.0 (67).
  • Defensively, Tech has forced 16.5 turnovers per game (16 by Northwestern) and taken 9.0 steals per game (9 at Northwestern). The Jackets forced an average of 12.6 turnovers per game last season and took 6.9 steals per game.
  • Tech has deployed at least eight players for significant minutes (10 or more per game) in each of its six games so far, nine at Northwestern, despite Even Cole missing his fourth straight game with an ankle injury.
  • Tech’s bench outscored that of Northwestern, 27-12. Yellow Jacket reserves have scored 193 points in six games (32.3 per game).

INDIVIDUAL NOTES

  • Jose Alvarado scored a career-high 24 points against Northwestern (7-15 FG, 2-5 3s, 8-9 FT). His previous best was 23 on four occasions last season. He has scored in double digits in three straight games and averaged 17.0 ppg over that span.
  • James Banks was a big bright spot for the Jackets at Northwestern, posting his first career double-double with career highs in both points (12) and rebounds (12), Tech’s first double-double since last Feb. 4 (Ben Lammers). Banks went 6-of-8 from the floor, blocked three shots, and four of his rebounds came on the offensive end in 26 minutes before fouling out. With nine rebounds against Prairie View A&M, Banks has 21 rebounds in Tech’s last two games.
  • Khalid Moore scored just two points (both from the free throw line), but had three assists and three rebounds in 15:30. His defense on Northwestern leading scorer Ryan Taylor (20 points) in the second half helped allow Tech to slice the Wildcats’ 28-point lead with 16:12 left to just five in the final minute. Tech outscored Northwestern by 22 during his time on the floor.
  • Moses Wright has started the last four games for Georgia Tech in place of Evan Cole, who was sidelined with a sprained left ankle suffered in the Tennessee game Nov. 13.

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