Feb. 27, 2017
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech closes out its regular-season home schedule Tuesday night, honoring six senior players before a nationally-televised Atlantic Coast Conference game at 9 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion.
Tech (16-13, 7-9 ACC), which has defied pre-season projections in its first season under head coach Josh Pastner, has dropped five of its last seven ACC games, defeating Syracuse and Boston College during that stretch. The Yellow Jackets, 14-4 on the road this season, entered this week’s games tied for 10th place in the ACC standings with Wake Forest.
Pittsburgh (15-14, 4-12 ACC) has split its last six ACC games, falling at home Saturday to North Carolina, 85-67. The Panthers, 1-6 on the road in ACC play this season, had lost eight in a row prior. They are in a three-way tie for 12th place in the ACC standings.
Tuesday’s game will be televised on ESPNU and will be streamed live online on the WatchESPN app. Radio coverage is provided by Tech’s flagship station, 680 the Fan (680 AM/93.7 FM), and is available via satellite radio (Sirius ch. 81, XM ch. 81).
THE STARTING LINEUP
Georgia Tech will honor six senior players and one senior manager Tuesday night on the occasion of their final home game at McCamish Pavilion – graduate transfers Kellen McCormick and Jodan Price, Josh Heath, who played three years at Tech after transferring from South Florida, and four-year seniors Rand Rowland, Corey Heyward and Quinton Stephens.
The four games between Tech and Pittsburgh since the Panthers joined the ACC have been decided by an average of 5.3 points. Pitt’s 81-74 win in the first meeting is the largest margin of victory.
Tech can finish no worse than 11th in the regular season (the Yellow Jackets are three games ahead of Pitt and Clemson). Two wins this week could boost the Jackets past Syracuse for the ninth seed, depending on how Wake Forest finishes. Tech would lose a tie breaker with Wake Forest, but would win a tiebreaker with Syracuse, win or lose on Saturday.
Tech has the seventh most efficient defense in the country according to KenPom.com, giving up 91.1 points per 100 possessions. The Yellow Jackets rank No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (40.1 pct.) vs. ACC teams, and ranks fourth in scoring defense (68.5 ppg). Nationally, Tech ranks 20th in field goal percentage defense and 55th in scoring defense against all opponents.
Ben Lammers’ +11.0 per game scoring average increase over the 2015-16 season is the third-best in the ACC, behind John Collins of Wake Forest and Matt Farrell of Notre Dame. But Tadric Jackson (+7.3) and Quinton Stephens (+4.8) and also have posted significant increases over last season. Josh Heath (+3.2) has more than doubled his 2015-16 average.
Three keys for Tech – The Jackets are 16-3 this season when they shoot a better percentage from the floor than their opponent, are 13-0 when scoring 70 points and 15-3 when attempting more free throws than the opponent.
Georgia Tech is 4-4 against teams in the top 25 of CBSSports.com’s RPI rankings as of Monday.
Georgia Tech has defeated three AP top-25 teams this season (No. 9 North Carolina, No. 6 Clemson, No. 14 Notre Dame), the most in one season for the program since the Yellow Jackets went 4-3 vs. top-25 teams in 2003-04. Tech has beaten as many as three top-25 teams in one season six times prior to this season.
Tech has beaten two AP top-10 teams this season — No. 9 North Carolina and No. 6 Florida State — the first time the Yellow Jackets have beaten multiple top-10 teams in the same season since 2004-05 (No. 5 Wake Forest in the regular season and No. 2 North Carolina in the ACC Tournament). It is the first time since 2003-04 that the Jackets have beaten multiple top-10 teams in the regular season (No. 1 Connecticut, No. 10 Wake Forest, No. 3 Duke). It is the 18th time in program history that Tech has defeated multiple top-10 teams in the same season.
SERIES NOTES VS. PITTSBURGH
Pittsburgh won the first three meetings between the two teams after the Panthers became members of the ACC, but the Yellow Jackets snapped that streak last March with a 63-59 homecourt victory in their final regular-season game.
The four meetings between the two teams as ACC brethren have been decided by an average of 5.3 points.
Pitt earned its first win over the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta on Jan. 14, 2014, with an 81-74 victory, and made it three straight with victories at home during the 2014-15 season (70-65) and 2015-16 season (89-84).
Tech won the first five games in the series, which took place between 1966 and 1989.
The two most entertaining games between Tech and the former Big East member played in the same month of the 1989-90 season, when the Yellow Jackets were on the way to their second ACC title and first Final Four appearance. Bobby Cremins and Paul Evans were the respective head coaches at the time.
Tech overcame an early 26-5 deficit to win the ACC/Big East Challenge game in Hartford in early December, getting 42 points from Dennis Scott, including the game-winner with 8 seconds left. Later in the month, the Panthers came to Atlanta for a Kuppenheimer Classic game at the Omni, and Tech won the game without head coach Bobby Cremins, who was attending his father’s funeral. Kenny Anderson recorded a triple-double with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 18 assists.
Tech scored easy wins over Pitt in the first three games of the series, all under head coach Whack Hyder, two of which were played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on the Tech campus.
Tech is 3-3 against the Panthers’ current head coach, Kevin Stallings, all while he piloted the program at Vanderbilt.
COACH PASTNER AUDIO FROM MONDAY
Georgia Tech has started Josh Heath, Corey Heyward, Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Quinton Stephens for the last 10 games and 11 times this season. Three Yellow Jackets — Lammers, Okogie and Stephens — have started every game this season.
Tech has played its last six games without backup forward Abdoulaye Gueye (fractured wrist).
Tech trailed at the half against Notre Dame (34-28) for the fifth straight game and for the seventh straight ACC game (14th time this season). Yellow Jackets fell to 3-11 this season when trailing at the half.
Tech remained winless at Purcell Pavilion (0-4) since Notre Dame joined the ACC.
Tech shot 44.8 percent from the floor to Notre Dame’s 35.1 percent, only the third time this season (16-3 record) that the Yellow Jackets have lost when shooting a higher percentage than its opponent.
Tech held Notre Dame 11 points under its scoring average (75.1 ppg) vs. ACC teams this season, and more than nine percentage points under its average (44.8 percent) for the season. The Yellow Jackets remain No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (40.1 pct.) vs. ACC foes, No. 4 in scoring defense.
Despite that, Notre Dame hit 10 three-point field goals in 29 attempts. Only Duke (16) has made more threes in a game against Tech this year, although NC State (Jan. 15) and Boston College also made 10. The Irish were 10-for-28 from inside the arc.
In two games vs. Notre Dame this season, Tech held the Fighting Irish to an average of 62 points and 37.7 percent shooting from the floor.
Tech had a 38-16 advantage on points in the paint against the Fighting Irish, the fifth straight game the Yellow Jackets have come out on top in that category.
Tech failed to reach its magic number for points (70), and is 3-13 this season when scoring less than 70.
Tech turned the ball over 14 times and recorded just seven assists, the first time since Feb. 4 vs. Wake Forest that Tech was not on the plus side in assist-to-turnover ratio. Notre Dame turned the 14 turnovers into 11 points.
Tech did not allow Notre Dame any transition points, and has outscored its last five opponents on fast breaks, 50-14.
Tech out-rebounded Notre Dame, 39-32, the first time in four games the Yellow Jackets were on the plus side.
Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech had seven assists on 26 made field goals (26.9 pct.) vs. Notre Dame — falling short of its 60 percent goal. That was a season low for assists by the Yellow Jackets and by far the lowest percentage of assists to made field goals. It dropped Tech’s season rate to 61.7 percent, and 63.7 percent in ACC games.
Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents’ attempts): Tech made 5-of-8 free throws, fewest makes and attempts since going 2-for-3 at Miami on Feb. 15 to Notre Dame’s 14-of-18 (goal of making more than opponent tries not accomplished). The Yellow Jackets maintain a 70.5-percent clip from the foul line in ACC games, 68.4 percent in all games.
Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech’s guards combined for 22 of Tech’s 29 defensive rebounds.
Tech nearly had three players post double-doubles against Notre Dame. Ben Lammers recorded his 13th of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Josh Okogie posted his third with 14 points and 10 boards. Josh Heath came up one rebound short and scored 12 points.
Josh Okogie scored 14 points (6-of-16 FG), his 24th double-sigit game this year and his 15th in 16 ACC games. He had 11 points by halftime, exceeding his total in the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 28. He posted his fourth double-digit rebound game (10) of the season.
Tadric Jackson scored 20 points to post his seventh double-digit game in Tech’s last nine games, and his fourth 20-plus-point effort in that stretch. He is averaging a team-high 16.0 points and 2.1 assists over that stretch and has hit 48.8 percent (50 of 104) of his shots from the floor, 13-of-37 (35.1 pct.) from three.
Ben Lammers posted his seventh double-double against an ACC team this year, but this was the first to come in a losing effort.
Lammers blocked four more shots, giving him 100 for the season, fourth most in Tech history and the most by any played not named Alvin Jones, who holds the top three positions (141 in 1997-98, 107 in 1998-99, 101 in 2000-01). He is averaging 3.45 blocks per game, which ranks No. 2 nationally and leads the ACC, and 3.19 in ACC games.
Four Yellow Jackets played 35 or more minutes against Notre Dame. Ben Lammers is averaging 35 minutes a game this year, 36.6 per ACC game (third highest in the conference).
Josh Heath (12 points, 6-9 FG) recorded is fourth double-figure scoring game of the season, third against an ACC team. He matched a career high with six field goals made and set another with nine attempts.
Corey Heyward, who started his 10th straight game, played 12 more turnover-free minutes against Notre Dame. In his 10 starts, he has committed just two turnovers in 188 minutes. He has played 19 turnover-free games this season.
NOTRE DAME’S MIKE BREY ON TECH’S OFFENSE
“…You’ve got to go back and guard that action because they run it for 25 seconds and they’re not shooting jump shots. They’re coming at your throat with stuff. So it’s physical, it’s grinding, it’s exhausting.”
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its first 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.
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