Feb. 23, 2018
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech looks to shake a six-game losing streak when it travels to meet No. 15-ranked Clemson in a regionally-televised Atlantic Coast Conference game at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum. It is the final road game of the regular season for the Yellow Jackets.
Tech (11-17, 4-11 ACC), which has seen its top two freshmen suffer season-ending injuries in the last three weeks, has dropped 10 of its last 11 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, Wake Forest and No. 1 Virginia, which came by a 65-54 score Wednesday night. The Jackets last won on Jan. 31, a 55-51 victory at home over Syracuse.
Clemson (20-7, 9-6 ACC), ranked in the top 25 for the past eight weeks, is in a three-way tie for fourth place in the ACC standings following its 65-58 loss at Virginia Tech Wednesday night. The Tigers have lost their last three games, including an overtime defeat at Florida State and a home loss to No. 5 Duke.
THE STARTING LINEUP
Clemson, then ranked No. 18 in the nation, defeated Georgia Tech at McCamish Pavilion, 72-70 on Jan. 28 in the first meeting between the two teams this season. Clemson is one of two permanent home-and-away opponents for the Yellow Jackets.
Tech plays two games on the road this week against teams ranked in the AP top 15, No. 1 Virginia (65-54 loss Wednesday night) and No. 15 Clemson.
Head coach Josh Pastner needs one win to reach 200 for his head coaching career. In nine-plus seasons, Pastner has a record of 199-106.
Tech is playing 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, and freshman guard Curtis Haywood II, who was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his right leg following the Jackets’ Jan. 31 game against Syracuse. Alvarado had played every minute of the previous four games prior to his injury and in eight games altogether this season. Haywood had missed six games earlier in the season with a shin injury.
Okogie’s 18.1 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 (957) 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. Seniors Tadric Jackson (1,060) and Ben Lammers (1,000 on the nose) already have reached the milestone, while sophomore Josh Okogie has rapidly risen to 957.
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).
RPI rankings are fluid – and you could argue flawed – but after Saturday, @GTMBB will have played 6 games vs. teams that are currently ranked in the RPI top 10. That's the most in the country. (They've also played RPI #11).
— Andy Demetra (@AndyDemetra) February 23, 2018
SERIES VS. CLEMSON
This is the oldest and longest-running series the Yellow Jackets have with an ACC member. The 131 all-time meetings are more than 30 greater than Tech has played with any other ACC opponent. The series dates back to the 1912-13 season, when John Heisman coached the Tech basketball team.
Clemson is one of two permanent home-and-away opponents on Tech’s schedule each year (Notre Dame is the other).
Clemson has won the last two meetings, including a 72-70 win in the teams’ first meeting of the 2017-18 season on Jan. 28 at McCamish Pavilion.
The Yellow Jackets trail 46-34 to the Tigers since joining the ACC.
Tech is 1-2 under head coach Josh Pastner against Clemson, and 4-13 vs. Tiger teams coached by Brad Brownell.
Tech is just 16-43 all-time in games played at Clemson, including an 8-36 mark in Littlejohn Coliseum. The Jackets have lost 12 straight games on the road in the series, and 11 in a row at Littlejohn, dating back to their last victory on Feb. 8, 2005 (70-62). Tech was Clemson’s first opponent in Littlejohn Coliseum back on Nov. 30, 1968. The Tigers won, 76-72.
Tech actually won four of the first five meetings with Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum under Paul Hewitt, but the Tigers have won the last 10 in a row there.
Tech’s 111-108 win against the Tigers at Littlejohn Coliseum on Jan. 24, 2001 is the highest-scoring regulation game Tech has had with any ACC opponent. The Jackets defeated Florida State by the same score in Tallahassee (in two OTs) on Feb. 11, 1999, and lost to Wake Forest in the 2007 ACC Tournament, 114-112 in double-overtime.
The Yellow Jackets have won three of four ACC Tournament meetings with the Tigers, including a 69-61 semi-final decision on the way to the 1993 conference title in Charlotte.
Georgia Tech used its eighth different starting lineup this season against Virginia, inserting freshman Moses Wright into the lineup, replacing Abdoulaye Gueye, along with Tadric Jackson, Josh Okogie, Evan Cole and Ben Lammers. It was the first time this year that freshman Cole and Wright had started together.
Gueye had started Tech’s last 15 games at the “4” position. Wright made his fifth start of the season, and first since Coppin State on Dec. 27.
Tech has had its full roster to practice only for seven games this season. Injuries or other absences have forced Tech players to miss 38 games cumulatively this season. Freshman Jose Alvarado and Curtis Haywood II both suffered season-ending injuries, Alvarado on Feb. 11 early in Tech’s game against Duke, and Haywood prior to the Jackets’ Jan. 31 game against Syracuse.
Ben Lammers is the only Tech player to start every game this season, and has started Tech’s last 66 consecutive games.
Tech’s playing rotation this season has featured four freshmen and a first-year graduate transfer who have combined to start 60 games and log 43 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ total minutes.
Pastner remains one victory shy of 200 for his head coaching career (199-106).
Tech matched its season low for turnovers with six against Virginia (six vs. North Texas and Coppin State). The Jackets stayed under 10 for the first time since committing nine against Clemson and Syracuse in back-to-back games on Jan. 28 and 31. Virginia had been forcing 13.6 turnovers per game in ACC play, and the Jackets had committed 18 in the teams’ first meeting.
Tech shot 43.1 percent from the floor against the ACC’s top team in field goal percentage defense (39.3 percent to ACC teams).
In the month of February (since its last victory on Jan 31 over Syracuse), Tech has allowed an average of 76.2 points per game, 47.9 percent from the floor. Tech’s February opponents have made an average of 9.0 threes per game and shot 50.9 percent from distance. Tech also has turned the ball over 12.5 times per game and forced just 9.7.
Tadric Jackson started and played the majority of the game as Tech’s point guard against Virginia, the first time he has played extensive minutes in that role. The 6-2 senior played a career-high 38 minutes, scored 15 points (6-14 FG, 3-8 3s) and had just one turnover.
Jackson reached double figures for the second straight game following a three-game drought, and for the 17th time in 25 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 1,060 points over his four seasons.
Ben Lammers had his most productive game offensively since Tech’s season opener against UCLA, scoring 22 points against Virginia while hitting 9-of-15 shots from the floor, 4-of-6 from the free throw line. He added seven rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot in 39 minutes. Lammers has 20 double-digit scoring games this season, 41 over the last two seasons.
Lammers has struggled with his shooting from the floor this year, but has hit 20-of-37 (54.1 pct.) over his last four games.
Lammers’ final point in the Virginia game, from the free throw line, gave him exactly 1,000 points for his career. He became the 45th player in Tech history to reach 1,000, and gives the Jackets two 1,000-point scorers on their current roster. Sophomore Josh Okogie is 43 points away from 1,000.
Virginia is the only team to hold Josh Okogie under 10 points this season, limiting the sophomore guard to nine points on Jan. 18, and seven on Feb. 21. The first game snapped a 25-game streak of double-digit games.
Okogie has scored in double figures 50 times in 57 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 18.1 points per game after missing the first eight games of the season, including 17.8 in ACC games so far (fourth-best in league rankings). He averaged 16.1 points as a freshman, 17.1 against the ACC.
Okogie has scored more points in his first two seasons at Tech (957) since Matt Harpring accumulated 1,021 by the end of his sophomore season (1996-98). At his present rate, Okogie can become the sixth Tech player to reach 1,000 career points by the end of his sophomore season.
Okogie, who came into the Virginia game leading the ACC in free throw attempts per game (7.3), failed to get to the free throw line for the first time in his career. Only once before had he failed to score a point from the charity stripe, missing his only attempt at Miami in Feb. 15 of last season. Okogie is one of the ACC’s top free throw shooters by percentage at 82.4 percent. He averaged 6.5 attempts as a freshman, which ranked third in the ACC, and connected on 74.7 percent.
Okogie did grab six rebounds against Virginia and is averaging 6.7 rebounds per game in ACC play, third best among league guards, and 6.2 for the season. Okogie has snared 73 rebounds in his last 10 games (7.3), including a pair of double-digit games.
Okogie has 40 assists in his last 13 games, a 3.1 average, and has matched his career high of five twice (second meeting vs. Notre Dame and at Florida State) in that stretch. He had four assists and no turnovers in Tech’s last game against Virginia.
Ben Lammers moved into 11th place on Tech’s career rebounding list, grabbing seven against Virginia for a career total of 748. He needs 14 to catch Eddie Elisma (762 from 1994-97) and move into the top 10 all-time.
Lammers blocked one shot against Virginia, giving him 244 blocks for his career and third place in Tech history alone, surpassing John Salley (243 from 1982-86). Daniel Miller (286 from 2011-14) holds second place.
Lammers is averaging 36.2 minutes this season, sixth-most in the ACC (37.1 mpg vs. the ACC), and ranks No. 1 among centers nationally in average minutes played and percentage of possible minutes. Okogie is averaging 36.9 minutes in ACC games. Both players rank among the ACC’s top 10 in minutes per conference game.
Okogie played the full 40 minutes for the third time this season. Jose Alvarado logged eight complete games before he was injured, and Lammers has gone start-to-finish five times.
Freshman forward Evan Cole has averaged 23.3 minutes, 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in his last four games, which includes starts against Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Virginia. The 6-9 rookie has hit 8-of-15 shots from the floor, 3-of-8 from three-point range, with six assists.
Moses Wright, another freshman, started his first game since Dec. 27 and scored six points with seven rebounds in a season-high 35 minutes against Virginia. The 6-9 rookie has averaged 24.8 minutes over his last four games, averaging 5.5 points (9-of-19 FG) and 5.5 rebounds.
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.