Jan. 2, 2018
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech begins a three-game homestand Wednesday night by hosting 15th-ranked Miami for its Atlantic Coast Conference home opener, a regionally-televised game that tips off at 9 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion.
The Yellow Jackets (6-7), who have lost six of their last eight games, look to rebound from a 68-59 loss at Notre Dame in its ACC opener on Saturday. Tech is 5-3 at home this season. The Jackets are in their second season under head coach Josh Pastner, the 2017 ACC Coach of the Year, after going 21-16 and reaching the championship game of the NIT last season.
The Hurricanes (12-1, 1-0) started their conference schedule strong Saturday with a 67-53 win at Pittsburgh. Miami, in their seventh season under head coach Jim Larrañaga, suffered its only loss of the season on Dec. 23, a 63-54 defeat to New Mexico State in the second round of the Diamond Head Invitational. The Hurricanes rank No. 2 in the ACC in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense.
Wednesday’s game will be televised regionally on the ACC’s Regional Sports Network (Fox Sports South in Georgia), and will be streamed live on through 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 Tech broadcast can also be heard nationally on SiriusXM satellite radio (Sirius ch. 137, XM ch. 194).
THE STARTING LINEUP
Georgia Tech plays three of its next four ACC games, and four of its next five overall, at home. The Yellow Jackets entertain Yale Saturday for its final non-conference game of the season, then host Notre Dame next Wednesday to complete the season series with the Fighting Irish.
Tech was projected to finish ninth in the ACC in the preseason voting by conference media. The Jackets finished 11th last season at 8-10.
Tech has yet to play a game with its entire roster healthy and available. The Yellow Jackets played their first eight games without its leading scorer and ACC All-Freshman player from last season, Josh Okogie. They played without senior guard Tadric Jackson for the first three games; without sophomore point guard Justin Moore for three games; and have been without freshman guard Curtis Haywood II for the last four games. Tech players have missed 19 games to various injuries this season.
Six Atlantic Coast Conference teams are currently ranked in the Associated Press poll – Duke (2), Virginia (8), North Carolina (13), Miami (15), Florida State (24) and Clemson (25). Notre Dame was a top 25 team until right before the holiday break, but still is receiving votes along with Syracuse and NC State. The Jackets have already faced UCLA (No. 21 in preseason) and Northwestern (No. 20 in preseason), as well as Tennessee, which is now No. 23.
Head coach Josh Pastner needs six victories to reach 200 for his head coaching career. In nine-plus seasons, Pastner has a record of 194-95.
SERIES VS. MIAMI
Miami has won the last two games of the series, including a 70-61 victory last season in Coral Gables, the teams’ only meeting. After winning the first two meetings with Miami after the Hurricanes became members of the ACC, Georgia Tech has dropped 10 of the last 14.
Miami has a 13-8 lead in the all-time series which dates back to 1953, and is 13-6 against the Yellow Jackets since joining the ACC.
Miami has won the last five meetings in Atlanta and is 3-0 at McCamish Pavilion. Miami also won the only regular-season meeting between the two teams in 2011-12, as well as their ACC Tournament meeting, both games at Philips Arena.
Miami was the opponent for Tech in its final game at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, a game the Yellow Jackets won 66-57 to close out the 2010-11 regular season. Tech won four of six games against the Hurricanes in the building.
Tech had won its last two games against Miami in Coral Gables prior to last year’s visit, including a 71-69 victory over sixth-ranked Miami on March 6, 2013. It was Tech’s first win at the Watsco Center since Feb. 26, 2005.
Thirteen of the 21 meetings have been decided by 10 points or less.
The last meeting between the two schools prior to Miami’s joining the ACC occurred in December of 1997 as part of the Orange Bowl Classic doubleheader at Miami Arena, the Hurricanes’ home court until the team moved into the on-campus Convocation Center last year. The Yellow Jackets, led that year by senior forward Matt Harpring, won that game, 69-61.
Tech played Miami twice under former head coach Whack Hyder, losing the first-ever meeting in the series by 22 points in 1953, then taking a six-point homecourt victory in 1967. That was the only pre-ACC visit by the Hurricanes to Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and the 90-84 Tech win has been the highest scoring game in the short series.
COACH PASTNER AUDIO FROM TUESDAY’S MEDIA SESSION
Head coach Josh Pastner used his sixth different starting lineup of the season at Notre Dame, inserting Abdoulaye Gueye into the “4” spot in place of freshman Moses Wright, who had started the previous four games. It was the first time this season that only one freshman was in the starting lineup — Jose Alvarado, who has started every game at point guard.
Curtis Haywood II, who had started seven straight games, sat out for the fifth consecutive game with a shin injury. Sylvester Ogbonda did not suit up due to an ankle injury, and Justin Moore missed the last two games due to a death in the family. Injuries or other absences have forced Tech players to miss 27 games cumulatively this season, and the Jackets have yet to play a game with all 11 scholarship players healthy.
Alvarado and Lammers have started every game this season. Lammers has started Tech’s last 50 consecutive games.
Jose Alvarado and Josh Okogie each played 40 minutes for the Yellow Jackets, while Ben Lammers played 40-, meaning he exited the game for less than 30 seconds. The last, and only time, three Tech players played all 40 minutes in a game was Jan. 30, 1991 in a 77-75 loss to Duke, when Kenny Anderson, Jon Barry and Malcolm Mackey all played 40 minutes. It was the first time Okogie has played all 40 minutes in his career, while Alvarado had a 40-minute game earlier this season. Lammers has played 40 minutes six times previously.
Tech has averaged 70.8 points and converted 43.8 percent of their field goal attempts in the five games since Josh Okogie‘s return.
Tech continues to make life tough for opponents inside the three-point arc. The Jackets came into the Notre Dame game ranked No. 17 nationally according to Kenpom.com in lowest two-point field goal percentage yield (now 42.63 percent after Notre Dame converted 16-of-40).
Tech has connected on just 15 threes in 57 attempts in its last four games against Georgia, Wright State, Coppin State and Notre Dame (3.8 per game and 26.4 percent). The Yellow Jackets had made 37.4 percent of its three-point field goals and averaged 6.0 per game (43-for-115) over the seven games prior to that.
Tech has committed 12.8 turnovers per game this season, down from 14.9 at the same point (13 games) last season. Tech committed just seven turnovers against Notre Dame and has just 13 in its last two games.
Notre Dame outscored Tech 30-18 in the paint, out-rebounded the Yellow Jackets 45-34 and scored 16 second-chance points on 13 offensive rebounds. Just a game earlier, Tech outscored Coppin State 40-18 in the paint and enjoyed a season-high plus-17 advantage in rebounding (41-24). The Jackets also took 11 offensive rebounds and scored a season-high 16 second-chance points.
One game after hitting 20-of-21 from the free throw line against Coppin State, Tech connected on just 7-of-18 opportunities at Notre Dame, its poorest performance from the stripe since going 3-for-13 against Virginia on Feb. 8, 2014. The Jackets dropped to 70.3 percent for the season.
Tech ranks 14th nationally in percentage of points scored at the free throw line (23.6 pct.) and 29th in highest ratio of free throw attempts to field goal attmepts (41.7 pct.). The Jackets are scoring 15.7 points per game at the stripe this season, compared to 13.6 a year ago.
Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on just 10 of 23 field goals made and 36 of 100 in its last three games (36 percent), falling short its nightly goal of 60 percent for the third straight game. The Jackets have assisted on 55.5 percent of their made field goals for the season, after finishing last season at 62.7 percent (63.2 percent rate in ACC games).
Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents’ attempts): Tech made 7-of-18 free throws to Notre Dame’s 15-of-18 (goal of making more than opponent tries not accomplished). For the season, Tech has converted 204 free throws, while opponents have attempted 211. Tech is 26-7 under Josh Pastner when attempting more free throws than the opponent.
Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech’s guards combined for 14 of Tech’s 25 defensive rebounds. Alvarado, Jackson and Okogie are all averaging well above four rebounds per game.
Ben Lammers recorded his fifth double-double of the season (11 points and 12 rebounds) and did so for the third straight game. He has accumulated 21 double-doubles since the beginning of last season.
Lammers blocked four shots against Notre Dame to give him 216 blocks for his career, sitting in sole possession of fourth place in Tech history and needing 27 to catch John Salley (243 from 1982-86) for third place. Lammers is third in the ACC and 12th nationally in blocked shots per game (3.1).
Lammers’ 78.6-percent clip from the free throw line is more than five percent better than his junior year (73.7 percent). Lammers was a combined 21-of-43 his first two seasons.
Tadric Jackson has scored in double digits in each game since returning to the court, and had 15 against Notre Dame. It was his 32nd double-digit game off the bench as a Yellow Jacket, 23 of those since the beginning of last season. The senior guard has reached double figures 19 times in his last 21 games and 33 times since the beginning of last season.
Jackson went 7-of-13 from the floor (0-for-3 on 3s) against Notre Dame, and is hitting 63.3 percent of his shots (57-of-90) from inside the three-point arc this season, 51.8 percent overall.
Jackson grabbed four rebounds and had three assists with just one turnover in 25 minutes.
Josh Okogie has averaged 18.0 points per game in his five games back on the court, reaching double digits in every one, including a team-high 16 with seven rebounds at Notre Dame. The 6-4 sophomore has hit 9-of-21 shots from three-point range and 29-of-37 (78.4 percent) from the free throw line. Okogie has scored in double figures 37 times in 42 career games. He has scored 20 or more 11 times.
One game after missing nearly the entire second half with a head injury, freshman point guard returned to the floor and played all 40 minutes in his ACC debut, scoring 11 points (4-8 FG, two 3s) for his eighth double-digit scoring game this season.
Brandon Alston, starting his second straight game and seventh this season, scored four points with three rebounds but had four assists and three steals with no turnovers in 29 minutes at Notre Dame in his first ACC game.
Jackson surpassed 900 career points with his performance against Coppin State and has 927 currently. At his current career-best average of 15.8 points per game, it will take him five more games to become the 44th Georgia Tech player to reach 1,000. Lammers has 847 career points, and would need 12 games at his current 12.8 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.