Nov. 28, 2016
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech hits the road for the first time this season Tuesday night, visiting Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for a 7 p.m. nationally-televised contest at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa.
Tech (4-1) has begun its first season under head coach Josh Pastner with victories over Tennessee Tech (70-55), Southern (77-62), Sam Houston State (81-73) and Tulane (82-68) sandwiched around a 67-61 loss to Ohio, all at McCamish Pavilion. Pastner inherited seven letterwinners, but none of its top four scorers, from a team that went 21-15 last season and advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
Penn State (4-3), in its sixth season under head coach Patrick Chambers, has won its last two games, downing Colgate (72-59) and its first road game against George Washington (74-68). The Nittany Lions have also defeated Duquesne and Grand Canyon and lost to Albany (at home), Duke and Cincinnati.
Tuesday’s game will mark Tech’s first television appearance of the season with the game aired nationally on ESPNU. Radio coverage is provided by Tech’s flagship station, WCNN-AM (680 AM/93.7 FM).
Tuesday’s game kicks off a stretch of three straight road games for Georgia Tech, who will visit Tennessee Saturday and VCU next Wednesday. They are the only non-conference road games for the Yellow Jackets, who began the season with five straight home games and play four more at McCamish Pavilion after this road stretch.
This is Tech’s first-ever visit to Penn State. All three of the previous meetings in the series took place in Atlanta. Among current Big Ten teams, the Yellow Jackets have never played at Michigan, Nebraska, Purdue or Wisconsin, though the Jackets have played all of those teams either at home or at a neutral site.
Georgia Tech (106) and Penn State (102) are comparably ranked in KenPom’com’s adjusted efficiency rankings – Tech 160th and Penn State 144th in adjusted offensive efficiency, Tech 75th and Penn State 78th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Georgia Tech returns to participate in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the first time since 2014. The Jackets have been left out twice in the 16-year history of the series.
According to ESPN.com’s John Gasaway, Tech is the least experienced team in Division I, returning only 25 percent of its possession-minutes from 2015-16. Gasaway measures experience by calculating a team’s “returning possession minutes,” the percentage of minutes that a player recorded last season, multiplied by the percentage of the team’s possessions that he used (as listed at kenpom.com).
Georgia Tech and Penn State are meeting for the fourth time overall, for the first time at University Park, and for the first time since December of 2008. Penn State holds a 2-1 lead.
All three of the prior meetings took place at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta, former of home of Tech’s basketball program.
The last two meetings were part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Tech won the first, 77-73, on Nov. 28, 2006 with a team that included four future NBA players in Thaddeus Young (currently Indiana), Anthony Morrow (currently Oklahoma City), Javaris Crittenton (Lakers/Grizzlies) and Mario West (Atlanta). Penn State captured the second, 85-83, on Dec. 3, 2008, over a Tech team than included current Cleveland Cavalier Iman Shumpert.
The first meeting between the two teams was a quarterfinal game in the post-season NIT, a 75-70 Penn State victory on March 18, 1998. That Tech team had three players who spent time in the NBA – Matt Harpring, Dion Glover and Alvin Jones.
TECH IN THE ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE
Georgia Tech has a 6-9 mark in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and has won two straight games in the series following last season’s 66-58 win at Northwestern. The Jackets defeated Illinois, 67-64, in Atlanta in 2013.
Northwestern was the first “three-peat” for Tech in the series. The Wildcats captured the first two meetings, in 2010 in Evanston and 2011 at Philips Arena.
Illinois was the fourth “repeat” opponent for Georgia Tech in the Challenge, having beaten the Jackets 75-62 in 2012 in Champaign. The Yellow Jackets have played Michigan, Penn State and Northwestern twice each. It also was the second time Tech has faced the same opponent in back-to-back meetings. The Jackets played, and lost to, Northwestern in 2010 and 2011.
Tech has played seven “home” games in the series and has a 4-3 record in those contests. Four of the games were played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, where Tech defeated Wisconsin (2001) and Michigan (2004) and went 1-1 against Penn State (2006, 2008). Two others were played at Philips Arena, an 80-77 loss to Michigan in the first Challenge game in 1999, and a 76-60 loss in 2011.
The Yellow Jackets have a 2-6 mark in ACC/Big Ten Challenge games on the road. The Yellow Jackets’ only road win in the series occurred in 2003, a 73-53 win at Ohio State the year in which Tech reached the NCAA Championship game. Tech also has visited Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan State, Indiana and Northwestern (twice).
Nebraska and Purdue are the only Big Ten teams the Yellow Jackets have not faced in the annual series.
PASTNER ON TECH’S 4-1 START
“In five games being the most inexperienced team among all of power five teams, without the starting point guard that you thought was going to start from day one, to be sitting here like this, you’re proud of our young men. We’ll keep getting back at it and keep trying to get better.”
— GT Men’s Basketball (@GTMBB) November 28, 2016
MORE ON OKOGIE’S 38-POINT NIGHT
Josh Okogie set a Georgia Tech freshman record for points in a game with his 38 against Tulane. He hit 12 of 20 shots from the floor and 13 of 18 from the free throw line (more than Tulane’s entire team, 12-of-17).
He eclipsed the previous Tech freshman mark of 33 by Mark Price against Virginia on March 12, 1983 (ACC Tournament) and Dion Glover against Seton Hall on March 11, 1998 (NIT).
It was the fourth-most points scored by a freshman in ACC history and the most since the 2013 ACC Tournament, when Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan scored 41 (the ACC freshman record) against Georgia Tech. There have been two other 40-point games by freshmen in ACC history – Harrison Barnes of North Carolina in 2011 and Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina in 2006.
Okogie’s 38 points were the most by any Tech player since Kenny Anderson scored 42 vs. Howard on Jan. 2, 1991, and tied for the seventh-highest single-game scoring total in program history.
Okogie became the fifth different Tech freshman to score 30 points in a game (Kenny Anderson did it four times, Mark Price did it twice, Dion Glover and Thaddeus Young did it once each).
Okogie hit double figures for the second straight game and for the fourth time this season against Tulane. He scored 14 straight points for Tech bridging intermission, including the last six points of the first half and the first eight of the second half. His spree helped Tech extend its lead from 31-30 to 45-32.
Okogie’s 95 points in five games is the most for a Tech freshman at the outset of his career since Kenny Anderson scored 112 in his first five games in 1989-90.
Pastner on Okogie’s performance – “He didn’t take plays off. Beforehand, he was having the tendency to take plays off. Now I say that, you look at his numbers as a freshman has been pretty darn good. He’s just going to continue to get better. The reason he scored offensively was because he was at his best defensively as he’s been all year long. It translated to him being really locked in offensively. When he is not locked in defensively, he is not at effective offensively. Tonight he was his best defensively and it triggered and translated into him being great offensively.”
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.
For more information on Tech basketball, visit here.