Jan. 30, 2018
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech close out the month of January, the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule and a quick two-game homestand by hosting Syracuse in a regionally-televised game at 8 p.m. Wednesday night at sold-out McCamish Pavilion.
The Yellow Jackets (10-11, 3-5 ACC) are looking to end their first four-game losing streak since late in the 2014-15 season, which includes a pair of home losses to No. 2 Virginia and No. 18 Clemson. Tech started the ACC 3-1 for the first time since the 2003-04 season, including home victories against No. 15 Miami and No. 25 Notre Dame. The Jackets entered the week tied for 11th place in the ACC standings.
The Orange (15-6, 4-4 ACC) have emerged from a 1-4 start in the ACC to win their last three in a row, a streak that includes a pair of wins over Pittsburgh and a homecourt win over Boston College. Syracuse, in its 42nd season under head coach Jim Boeheim, is 1-3 on the road this season in the ACC. Its zone defense is ranked No. 2 in the ACC behind Virginia in both scoring defense and field goal percentage defense.
Wednesday’s game will be televised regionally on the ACC Network (Peachtree TV in Atlanta) 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. 135, XM ch. 194, Internet ch. 956).
THE STARTING LINEUP
Wednesday’s game against Syracuse was declared a sellout Monday, meaning the Yellow Jackets will play before full houses in four consecutive games — Jan. 18 vs. No. 2 Virginia, Jan. 28 vs. No. 18 Clemson, Syracuse and Feb. 11 vs. No. 4 Duke — the first time that has happened since all 13 games of the 2007-08 season sold out at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The most sellouts in a season for Tech since McCamish Pavilion opened is four in 2011-12, the Yellow Jackets’ first season in the building.
Wednesday’s game is the only scheduled meeting between Tech and Syracuse. The teams split their games during the regular season in 2016-17, each winning at home.
Head coach Josh Pastner‘s Georgia Tech teams are 5-7 against top-25 teams (5-3 at home), including a 2-4 mark this season (2-2 at home).
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).
Pastner needs two victories to reach 200 for his head coaching career. In nine-plus seasons, Pastner has a record of 198-100.
Ben Lammers averaged 16.5 points and hit 59.3 percent of his shots (16-of-27) from the floor in two meetings against Syracuse last season. He also blocked nine shots, had five assists and five steals. He scored 23 points in Tech’s 71-65 win at home.
Five Atlantic Coast Conference teams are currently ranked in the Associated Press poll – Virginia (2/2), Duke (4/4), North Carolina (10/10), Clemson (18/17) and Miami (24 in coaches poll), 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 (now No. 22).
SERIES VS. SYRACUSE
Syracuse has won four of six meetings between the two teams since joining the ACC and five of seven dating back to 2002.
Last season was the first season that Tech and Syracuse played home-and-away since the Orange joined the ACC, with each team winning at home. Tech won the first meeting between the two teams, 71-65, in Atlanta, and the Orange earned the split with a 90-61 victory at the Carrier Dome in the teams’ regular-season finale.
The average margin of victory in the teams’ first four meetings as ACC brethren, before the Syracuse rout late last season, was 3.75 points.
Tech has won once in three trips to the Carrier Dome, a 67-62 decision on March 4, 2014, with the Orange ranked No. 7 in the nation.
Three of the first four games in the series were played on neutral courts, the first of which had the highest stakes, a second-round NCAA Tournament game at the Omni in Atlanta in 1985.
The last meeting between the two teams before Syracuse joined the ACC occurred in the championship game of the Legends Classic in Atlantic City in 2010, and 9th-ranked Syracuse survived a 32-point effort by Brian Oliver (who later transferred to Seton Hall) to win, 80-76.
Tech’s first trip to the Carrier Dome came in December of 2003, when the Orange, led by freshmen Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara, routed the Jackets with its freshman duo of Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack, 92-65, and eventually won the national championship.
Syracuse had never played on Tech’s campus until the 2014-15 season, but the Yellow Jackets did host the 13th-ranked Orange in a Delta Air Lines Classic for Kids game at Philips Arena in 2001. Jim Boeheim missed the game due to prostate surgery and the Yellow Jackets won by 16.
COACH PASTNER AUDIO
Georgia Tech has had its full roster to practice only for the last six 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 38 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.
Georgia Tech’s playing rotation this season features four freshmen and a first-year graduate transfer who have combined to start 48 games and log 47 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ total minutes.
Tech has lost four straight for the first time since the last five games of the 2014-15 season, and head coach Josh Pastner has lost four straight for the first time in his head coaching career.
Tech has scored 70 points or more in back-to-back games for the first time this season but lost both games.
Tech lost for the second time this season when out-shooting its opponent from the floor. The Jackets are 10-2 in such games, 31-5 under Josh Pastner. Tech has never won a game under Pastner in which it shot a lower percentage than its opponent.
Clemson’s 10 three-point field goals were the most allowed by Tech in an ACC game this season and most since Coppin State made 12 on Dec. 27. The Jackets came into the game leading the ACC in three-point percentage defense (27.6 percent).
Tech has started the same lineup for the past nine games, with Abdoulaye Gueye playing the “4” position. The Yellow Jackets have used six different starting lineups this season.
Tech committed only nine turnovers against Clemson, its first game under 10 since opening the ACC schedule with seven at Notre Dame. The Jackets had committed 49 turnovers in its previous three games (18 vs. Virginia, 15 at North Carolina, 16 at Florida State) after averaging just 10.8 turnovers per game in its first four ACC games. For the season, Tech has committed 12.9 turnovers per game this season, and 12.4 vs. ACC teams, both figures down from last season.
Tech went 15-of-19 from the free throw line against Clemson and is 39-of-49 (79.6 percent) in its last two games. The Jackets improved to 71.7 percent for the season, including a combined 80.8 percent (139-for-172) from Josh Okogie and Jose Alvarado, their two most frequent free throw shooters.
Josh Okogie has scored in double figures in his last three games after having a 25-game streak of double-digit games snapped against Virginia (nine points). The sophomore guard has scored in double figures 44 times in 50 career games. He has scored 30 or more three times (two vs. ACC), 20 or more 14 times (seven times in an ACC game).
Okogie has averaged 18.3 points per game in his 13 games back on the court, including 18.0 in ACC games so far (sixth-best in league rankings). He averaged 16.1 points as a freshman, 17.1 against the ACC. The 6-4 sophomore has hit 41.5 percent of his shots from three-point range and 81.1 percent from the free throw line this season. Okogie has at least one three in 11 of his 13 games this season, including his first seven straight.
In eight games against top-25 opponents Georgia Tech has hosted at McCamish Pavilion, Okogie has averaged 20.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He has shot 49 percent (50-of-102) from the floor, 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from three-point range and 79.4 percent (58-of-73) from the free throw line.
Okogie is averaging 7.0 rebounds per game in ACC play, 6.2 for the season (17th-best in the ACC), after grabbing six against Clemson. He has snared 29 rebounds in his last three games.
Okogie has 22 assists in his last six games, a 3.7 average, and has matched his career high of five twice (second meeting vs. Notre Dame and at Florida State) in that stretch.
Despite missing eight games, Okogie leads the Jackets in free throw attempts with 95, an average of 7.3 per game that leads the ACC. He averaged 6.5 as a freshman, which ranked third in the ACC.
Jose Alvarado has scored in double figures in three straight games and has averaged 17.0 over that stretch, hitting 17-of-35 from the floor and 9-of-18 from three-point range.
Alvarado has hit at least one three-point field goal in seven consecutive games (17-of-37). He is hitting 40.5 percent of his threes in ACC games, 37.2 percent for the season.
Alvarado logged his fifth 40-minute game of the season against Clemson. He ranks seventh in the ACC averaging 35.1 minutes per game, fifth in the ACC in average minutes per conference game (38.4). After missing nearly the entire second half of the Coppin State game with a head injury, Alvarado has played 345 minutes in Tech’s last nine games, sitting out just 15 minutes.
Abdoulaye Gueye has averaged 10.2 points (39-of-66 FG, 59.1 percent) and 6.3 rebounds in nine games since sitting out the Coppin State game with an ankle injury. He has scored in double figures in three straight games and five altogether during that stretch. Making his ninth straight start and 17th of the season against Clemson, he scored 14 points (7-14 FG) with eight rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots, and played a career-high 38 minutes.
Gueye has scored 92 points in the nine games since sitting out Coppin State on Dec. 27. He had scored 70 points in 39 career games prior to Coppin State.
Ben Lammers has 16 double-digit scoring games this season after scoring 10 against Clemson with nine rebounds. He has averaged 11.9 over his last three games.
Lammers blocked one shot against Clemson, improving his career total to 234 blocks, good for sole possession of fourth place in Tech history and needing nine to catch John Salley (243 from 1982-86) for third place.
Brandon Alston hit a pair of first-half threes against Clemson, breaking a three-game drought (0-for-3). He has scored 13 points in his last two games.
Lammers is averaging 36.0 minutes this season, sixth-most in the ACC (37.4 mpg vs. the ACC), while Okogie averages 34.8 (35.8 in ACC games), but he has not played enough games to qualify for the league rankings.
Lammers has creeped into Georgia Tech’s top 20 all-time leading rebounders, currently standing 16th with 694. He needs 10 to catch Lenny Horton (704 from 1977-80) for 15th place.
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.