Feb. 20, 2018
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech looks to shake a five-game losing streak when it travels to meet No. 1-ranked Virginia in a nationally-televised Atlantic Coast Conference game at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at the John Paul Jones Arena. It is the first of two road games against top-25 teams this week for the Yellow Jackets.
Tech (11-16, 4-10 ACC), which has seen its top two freshmen suffer season-ending injuries in the last three weeks, has dropped nine of its last 10 games and is winless in February. Tech’s current skid began with an overtime loss at Boston College and has included road losses at Louisville and Wake Forest. The Jackets last won on Jan. 31, a 55-51 victory at home over Syracuse.
Virginia (24-2, 13-1 ACC), whose only loss in conference play came a week ago at home to Virginia Tech, rose to No. 1 in the Associated Press polls despite that loss. The Cavaliers have clinched a double-bye in the ACC Tournament and have a chance to clinch the top seed with a victory Wednesday night. Virginia remains the ACC’s top team in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense.
THE STARTING LINEUP
Virginia, then ranked No. 2 in the nation, defeated Georgia Tech at McCamish Pavilion, 64-48 on Jan. 18 in the first meeting between the two teams this season.
Tech plays two games on the road this week against teams ranked in the AP top 15, No. 1 Virginia and No. 12 Clemson (Saturday at 3 p.m.).
Head coach Josh Pastner needs one win to reach 200 for his head coaching career. In nine-plus seasons, Pastner has a record of 199-105.
Tech will play the remainder of its season without freshman point guard Jose Alvarado, who dislocated his elbow in a fall during the first half of the Yellow Jackets loss to Duke on Feb. 11. Alvarado had played every minute of the previous four games and of eight games altogether this season.
Alvarado’s is the second season-ending injury suffered by a Tech player in the last three weeks. Freshman guard Curtis Haywood II was declared out for the season following the Jackets’ Jan. 28 loss to Clemson. Haywood had missed six games earlier in the season with a shin injury, and sophomore guard Josh Okogie missed the first eight games of this season with a dislocated finger.
Okogie’s 18.6 points-per-game average is the highest for a Tech player since the 1997-98 season, when Matt Harpring averaged 21.6, and the highest for a Tech sophomore since Harpring averaged 18.6 in 1995-96.
Okogie has more career points (950) at this point in his sophomore season than any Tech player since Matt Harpring, who finished his sophomore year with 1,021 (1994-96) on the way to finishing No. 2 on Tech’s all-time list with 2,225 points. Five players in Tech history have reached 1,000 career points during their sophomore seasons.
Tech has a chance to have three 1,000-point scorers on its roster by the end of the regular season. Tadric Jackson already has passed the threshold (1,045), while Ben Lammers sits at 978 and Josh Okogie has rapidly risen to 950.
Four Atlantic Coast Conference teams are currently ranked in the Associated Press and/or coaches polls – Virginia (1/2), Duke (5/5), North Carolina (10/10), Clemson (15/17), Florida State (25 in AP) – while Miami and Virginia Tech, as well as FSU in the coaches poll, 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. 19/19).
GEORGIA TECH VS. NO. 1
Wednesday’s game will be the 43rd time Georgia Tech has faced a team ranked No. 1 in the nation, and the Yellow Jackets are 8-34 against No. 1 teams in program history. Two of those games occurred against Virginia, an 83-42 road loss on Feb. 16, 1981, and a 56-52 home loss one year later on Feb. 15, 1982.
The Cavaliers are the first team ranked No. 1 in the nation Georgia Tech has faced since Jan. 16, 2008, when the Yellow Jackets lost at home to top-ranked North Carolina, 83-82. The last No. 1 team Tech played on the road was Duke, who defeated the Jackets 104-79 on Jan. 10, 2002.
Tech’s last victory over a team ranked No. 1 occurred Nov. 26, 2003 against Connecticut, a 77-61 victory in the semifinals of the Pre-Season NIT at Madison Square Garden. Tech’s last win on the home floor of a team ranked No. 1 was Feb. 12, 1994 at North Carolina (96-89).
Tech’s most frequent No. 1-ranked foes – North Carolina (13), Kentucky (12) and Duke (12).
Only North Carolina (13), UCLA (12), Maryland (10) and Duke (9) have more wins against No. 1 teams historically than Georgia Tech.
SERIES VS. VIRGINIA
Virginia has won 11 of the last 13 meetings to forge a 40-40 tie in the all-time series, which dates back to 1947.
The Cavaliers have won the last three games in the series, including a 64-48 win in Atlanta on Jan. 18 this season. Virginia also won the last meeting in Charlottesville, 62-49, on Jan. 21 last season, and captured a 72-52 win in the 2016 ACC Tournament.
Tech has four wins in its last 11 trips to Charlottesville, but is just 1-6 at John Paul Jones Arena and has lost on its last five trips to Charlottesville.
The Yellow Jackets were 10-16 against Virginia at University Hall, the Cavaliers’ former homecourt, Tech’s best winning percentage on any ACC foe’s home court.
Since Tech joined the ACC, the Yellow Jackets are 38-39 against Virginia.
Tech was 11-8 against Virginia under Paul Hewitt, including wins in all three meetings in Hewitt’s first season of 2000-01. Josh Pastner is 0-3 vs. Virginia (one loss at Memphis), and Tony Bennett is 10-2 vs. Tech.
Tech has averaged 53.5 points per game in 12 meetings against Bennett’s Virginia teams, failing to reach 50 points in five of those games.
Tech and Virginia have played to overtime seven times since the 1983-84 season, including a 72-71 triple-overtime win for Tech in Atlanta on Jan. 23, 1984, and an 88-85 double-overtime triumph for Virginia in Charlottesville on Jan. 22, 1995.
In the ACC Tournament, Tech has won five of nine meetings, including a 70-61 Jacket victory in the 1990 final in Charlotte.
Georgia Tech started Tadric Jackson and Evan Cole along with Josh Okogie, Abdoulaye Gueye and Ben Lammers for the second straight game in the wake of the loss of freshman point guard Jose Alvarado. That has been the seventh different lineup of this season for the Yellow Jackets. Head coach Josh Pastner had started the same lineup for the 13 games prior.
Tech has had its full roster to practice only for seven 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 42 games cumulatively this season. Tech does not have its full rotation for the rest of the season with freshman Curtis Haywood II sidelined for the remainder of the season with a stress reaction in his right leg.
Ben Lammers is the only Jacket to start every game this season, and has started Tech’s last 64 consecutive games.
Tech’s playing rotation this season features four freshmen and a first-year graduate transfer who have combined to start 58 games and log 44 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ total minutes.
Tech connected on nine of its first 13 shots against Virginia Tech, 11-for-42 after that for 36.2 percent for the game.
Tech grabbed 14 offensive rebounds and converted them into a season-high 17 second-chance points against Virginia Tech, and its 15 points off the Hokies’ 13 turnovers were its second most in ACC play (17 at Pittsburgh).
Tech has attempted more three-point field goals than its 25 against Virginia Tech twice this season — 27 vs. Duke and Grambling State. The Jackets are 5-for-34 in their last two games.
In the month of February (since its last victory on Jan 31 over Syracuse), Tech has allowed an average of 78.4 points per game. 47.9 percent from the floor. Tech’s February opponents have made an average of 9.4 threes per game and shot 51.1 percent from distance. Tech also has turned the ball over 13.8 times per game and forced just 10.4.
Fourteen of Georgia Tech’s games this season have been decided by 10 points or fewer, including six ACC games, and not decided until the final few minutes. Tech has played nine games decided by five points or fewer or in overtime, most for any ACC team other than Florida State (10).
Tadric Jackson reached double figures for the first time since Feb. 4 at Boston College, scoring 17 points against Virginia Tech. He hit his first four shots from the floor, including a trio of threes, and scored 13 of his points in the first half. The 6-2 senior has scored in double figures 16 times in 24 games this season.
Jackson, who became the 44th player in Tech history to reach 1,000 career points on Jan. 31 vs. Syracuse, now has 1,045).
Sophomore center Sylvester Ogbonda saw his most extensive playing time this season, logging 10 minutes and scoring seven points (3-3 FG) with four rebounds and a blocked shot. The 6-10 red-shirt sophomore played more minutes only twice last season, 14 minutes each in back-to-back games against Wake Forest and Tusculum.
Josh Okogie has scored in double figures in his last nine games (19.5 ppg) after having a 25-game streak of double-digit games snapped against Virginia (nine points).
The sophomore guard has scored in double figures 50 times in 56 career games. He has scored 30 or more three times (two vs. ACC), 20 or more 18 times (11 times in an ACC game).
Okogie has averaged 18.6 points per game after missing the first eight games of the season, including 18.6 in ACC games so far (fourth-best in league rankings). He averaged 16.1 points as a freshman, 17.1 against the ACC.
Despite missing eight games, Okogie leads the Jackets in free throw attempts with 138, an average of 7.3 per game that leads the ACC (6.8 per game vs. ACC teams). He is also one of the ACC’s top free throw shooters by percentage at 82.4 percent. He averaged 6.5 as a freshman, which ranked third in the ACC, and connected on 74.7 percent.
Okogie is averaging 6.7 rebounds per game in ACC play, third best among league guards, and 6.2 for the season. Okogie has snared 65 rebounds in his last nine games (7.9).
Okogie has 36 assists in his last 12 games, a 3.0 average, and has matched his career high of five twice (second meeting vs. Notre Dame and at Florida State) in that stretch.
Abdoulaye Gueye is averaging 8.1 points (52.2 percent from the floor) and 5.6 rebounds against the ACC with 20 blocked shots. He averaged 4.8 points (36.7 pct. FG) and 4.0 rebounds in the non-conference season.
Gueye has scored 127 points in the 15 games since sitting out Coppin State on Dec. 27. He had scored 70 points in 39 career games prior to Coppin State.
Ben Lammers surpassed 700 career rebounds against Syracuse and now has 741, moving into 12th place on Georgia Tech’s all-time list with three boards against Virginia Tech. He needs three to catch Bruce Dalrymple (744 from 1983-87) for 11th place.
Lammers blocked two shots against Virginia Tech, giving him 243 blocks for his career and a tie for third place in Tech history with John Salley (243 from 1982-86). Daniel Miller (286 from 2011-14) holds second place.
Lammers also is drifting ever closer to 1,000 points for his career. With 978 career points, and needs two games at his current 11.0 per game rate to reach 1,000.
Lammers played just 29 minutes against Virginia Tech, his fewest this season and fewest since logging 22 against Tusculum last February. The 6-10 senior is averaging 36.1 minutes this season, sixth-most in the ACC (36.9 mpg vs. the ACC), and ranks No. 1 among centers nationally in average minutes played and percentage of possible minutes. Okogie is averaging 36.7 minutes in ACC games. Both players rank among the ACC’s top 10 in minutes per conference game.
Freshman forward Evan Cole has averaged 25.3 minutes, 7.7 points and 5.0 rebounds in his last three games, which includes starts against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. The 6-8 rookie has hit 8-of-14 shots from the floor, including one three-pointer in each game (3-of-7).
Moses Wright, another freshman, matched his season best with eight rebounds to go with seven points in a season-high 28 minutes against Virginia Tech.
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.