Feb. 25, 2017
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech returns to the road to begin three games in seven days to finish the regular season, visiting No. 21/17 Notre Dame in a nationally-televised Atlantic Coast Conference game at 6:30 p.m. Sunday night at Purcell Pavilion.
Tech (16-12, 7-8 ACC), which has defied pre-season projections in its first season under head coach Josh Pastner, has dropped four of its last six ACC games, defeating Syracuse and Boston College during that stretch. The Yellow Jackets, 2-8 on the road this season, entered this weekend’s games in 10th place in the ACC standings, but only two games separate the Yellow Jackets from sixth place.
Notre Dame (21-7, 10-5 ACC) has won its last four games, defeating Wake Forest, Florida State, Boston College and NC State in succession. The Fighting Irish, 14-2 at home this season, began the weekend in a four-way tie for second place, two games behind first-place North Carolina.
Sunday’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 defeated Notre Dame, 62-60, on Jan. 28, in Atlanta in the teams’ first meeting this season. Tech is 3-1 against the Fighting Irish in McCamish Pavilion, but is 0-3 in South Bend since Notre Dame joined the ACC.
• The seven games between Tech and Notre Dame since the Irish joined the ACC have been decided by an average of 4.1 points.
• Notre Dame is one of Tech’s two permanent home-and-away partners in the ACC. Clemson is the other.
• This is Tech’s third appearance this season on the ACC’s Sunday night ESPNU package. The Yellow Jackets won the first two – Jan. 15 at NC State and last Sunday against Syracuse at home.
• A win Sunday would put Tech at 8-8 in the ACC for the first time since the 2006-07 unit finished with the same record.
• Tech has the eighth most efficient defense in the country according to KenPom.com, giving up 91.6 points per 100 possessions. The Yellow Jackets rank No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (40.4 pct.) vs. ACC teams, and ranks fourth in scoring defense (68.8 ppg). Nationally, Tech ranks 17th in field goal percentage defense and 54th in scoring defense against all opponents.
• Ben Lammers’ +11.1 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 (+7.0) and Quinton Stephens (+4.9) and also have posted significant increases over last season. Josh Heath (+3.0) has more than doubled his 2015-16 average.
• Three keys for Tech – The Jackets are 16-2 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 3-3 against teams in the top 25 of CBSSports.com’s RPI rankings as of Monday, 4-6 vs. top 50.
• In the first half of its ACC schedule, Georgia Tech faced, in order, teams ranked No. 9, 8, 9, 16, 6 and 14. The Jackets have one nationally-ranked (Notre Dame again) in the second half of their ACC slate.
• Georgia Tech has defeated three 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 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.
COACH PASTNER AUDIO FROM FRIDAY
SERIES NOTES VS. NOTRE DAME
• Georgia Tech holds a 9-6 lead in the all-time series with Notre Dame that began in the 1940-41 season. Tech captured a last-second, 62-60 decision in the teams’ first meeting this season (Jan. 28) in Atlanta and has won the last two games in the series, both in Atlanta.
• Notre Dame won four straight games in the series before that, including all three meetings at South Bend since the Fighting Irish became a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
• Notre Dame’s win in South Bend last season (72-64) was the largest margin of victory for either team in the seven games the teams have played as ACC brethren. The average margin of victory has been 4.1 points.
• The Yellow Jackets won five straight meetings between the two teams from 1972 through Tech’s 74-69 victory in McCamish Pavilion on Jan. 11, 2014, the team’s first meeting as ACC foes.
• All but one game in the series has been played on the two campuses, the exception being a 2007 meeting in the third-place game of the Paradise Jam. The Yellow Jackets erased a 9-point deficit in the final 5:11 and won the game on a three-point basket by Matt Causey with two seconds remaining.
• Tech is 2-5 in games played in South Bend, and 1-4 in Purcell Pavilion, including an 88-80 overtime win on Feb. 24, 1990, with the Jackets headed toward an ACC title and Final Four berth later that season.
• That game and a 90-80 Tech victory in Atlanta a year earlier were the only two face-offs ever between legendary coaches Bobby Cremins and Digger Phelps.
PASTNER ON TECH’S NCAA CHANCES
“I believe for us to be in the NCAA Tournament, we have to win nine [ACC games]. If we get to nine wins, I truly believe we’re in. We’re at seven – we’re going to have to get two more out of these [last] three. It would be great if we got all three and, if we don’t get to 9-9, I still believe 8-10 should get you into the NCAA Tournament in this league but we’re probably going to have to do some damage in the ACC Tournament, at least one or two games. We still have the opportunity to control our destiny to do that, but in order to do that, we’ve got to win some games and try to steal one on the road. That’s not putting any expectations or pressure, because I’ve been very upfront with the guys, but that’s just kind of where I believe that everything stands at this moment.”
• Georgia Tech has started Josh Heath, Corey Heyward, Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Quinton Stephens for the last nine games and 10 times this season. Three Yellow Jackets – Lammers, Okogie and Stephens – have started every game this season.
• Tech has played its last five games without backup forward Abdoulaye Gueye (fractured wrist).
• Tech is 3-10 when trailing at the half this season. The Yellow Jackets trailed at the half against NC State (39-30) for the fourth straight game and for the sixth straight ACC game (13th time this season). Except for the Duke game, it matched Tech’s largest halftime deficit in ACC games this season.
• The loss to NC State snapped a six-game homecourt winning streak and dropped the Yellow Jackets to 14-4 at home this season. They are one of six Tech teams to win 14 or more home games in one season (14-0 in 1962-63, 14-2 in 1994-95, 16-1 in 2006-07, 14-2 in 2009-10 and 14-5 in 2015-16).
• Tech had a 38-28 advantage on points in the paint against the Wolfpack, the fourth 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 3-12 this season when scoring less than 70.
• Tech shot 44.8 percent from the floor to NC State’s 42.9, only the second time this season (16-2 record) that the Yellow Jackets have lost when shooting a higher percentage than its opponent.
• NC State’s 71 points was 3.8 points under its average in ACC games, and its 42.9 percent shooting from the floor was 3.2 percent under its season norm. The Yellow Jackets have allowed its ACC opponents 40.4 percent (1st in the conference) and 39.6 percent overall (2nd).
• Tech turned the ball over 11 times, one off the Jackets’ season low in an ACC game to NC State’s 14.
• Tech also scored 15 points in transition NC State’s four, and has outscored its last three opponents on fast breaks, 46-14.
• Tech was out-rebounded 40-28, its second largest deficit of the ACC season (Miami was plus-14), giving up 13 offensive rebounds and 14 second-chance points. Tech also had only seven offensive rebounds and five second-chance points. Tech has been out-rebounded in three straight games by an average of 10.1.
• The Yellow Jackets blocked eight Wolfpack shots and improved its season average to 6.32, which ranks third nationally.
• Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech had 13 assists on 26 made field goals (50 pct.) vs. NC State – falling short of its 60 percent goal. Tech is at 63.46 percent for the season, which ranks 8th in the nation, and 66.4 percent in ACC games.
• Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents’ attempts): Tech made 13 of 22 free throws to NC State’s 9 of 14 (goal of making more than opponent tries not accomplished). The Yellow Jackets maintain a 70.7-percent clip from the foul line in ACC games, 68.5 percent in all games.
• Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech’s guards combined for only five of Tech’s 21 defensive rebounds.
• Josh Okogie scored 25 points (11-of-17 FG), his fifth game of 20 or more points in ACC play this season. In two games against NC State this season, he scored 52 points, hitting 21 of 35 shots from the floor (60 percent). He has 23 double-digit games out of 28 games overall this season and his 14 in 15 ACC games.
• Tadric Jackson scored 17 points to post his sixth double-digit game in Tech’s last eight games. He is averaging 15.5 points and 2.3 assists over that stretch and has hit 48.1 percent (50 of 104) of his shots from the floor, 11 of 29 from three.
• Quinton Stephens posted his sixth double-double of the season (11 points, 10 rebounds) and his third of the ACC schedule. He also had three assists, a block and two steals in 40 minutes.
• Ben Lammers suffered through his poorest offensive performance of the season, scoring six points while hitting just 1-of-9 shots from the floor. His only field goal came with 44 seconds left in the game. He hit 4-of-8 from the free throw line. Lammers has missed double digits in points just four times this season. He did grab nine rebounds.
• Lammers blocked four more shots, giving him 96 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 3.42 blocks per game, which ranks No. 2 nationally and leads the ACC, and 3.13 in ACC games.
• Stephens played the full 40 minutes for the fourth time this season, becoming the first Tech player to do that since Matt Harpring did it five times during the 1996-97 season. Lammers played 39 minutes against NC State, but has three 40-minute games under his belt this season.
• Josh Heath dished six more assists (with five points and two steals in 35 minutes) and is averaging 5.27 in ACC games (fourth-best in the ACC).
• Corey Heyward, who started his ninth straight game, played nine more turnover-free minutes against NC State. In his nine starts, he has committed just two turnovers in 176 minutes. He has played 18 turnover-free games this season.
NOTRE DAME’S MIKE BREY ON TECH
“I guess we have created a rivalry as a repeat opponent. I don’t know, maybe both teams playing well at the same time; I can’t put my finger on it. I thought Brian did a heck of a job with them, and always gave them a chance to win. Josh has done a magnificent job with this group, changing up completely how they play offensively and defensively. They’re such a different preparation than they were the last couple of years as any team in the league. I think that’s why they’ve won some games, enough to put them in the NCAA Tournament picture, because they’re so drastically different offensively and defensively from the last couple of years to this season.”
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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