Jan. 17, 2017
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech continues its longest road stretch of the season Wednesday night when it visits Virginia Tech for a regionally-televised Atlantic Coast Conference contest at 9 p.m. at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va.
Tech (11-6, 3-2 ACC), in its first season under head coach Josh Pastner, has won its last two games, an 86-76 victory at NC State Sunday night on the heels of a 75-63 win over Clemson last Thursday. The Yellow Jackets also have a win over No. 9 North Carolina on its resume. Tech enters the week tied for fourth place in the ACC standings.
Virginia Tech (13-4, 2-3 ACC) is coming off a 76-71 homecourt loss to No. 20 Notre Dame Saturday. The Hokies have lost three of four since opening conference play with an 89-75 win homecourt win over Duke on Dec. 31, the lone win an 83-73 win at home over Syracuse. The Hokies are 10-1 at Cassell Coliseum this season.
Wednesday’s game will be aired on the ACC’s Regional Sports Network (Fox Sports South in Georgia), and will be streamed live online on the ACC Network Extra, available through 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. 84, XM ch. 84).
STARTING FIVE (PLUS ONE)
• Georgia Tech is on the road for three straight games (at NC State, Virginia Tech and Virginia) over a seven-day period, its longest road stretch of the season.
• Tech is above .500 through five ACC games for the first time since the 2009-10 season. The Yellow Jackets last started the ACC schedule 4-2 in 2003-04.
• Three keys for Tech – The Jackets have won every game this season (11-0) in which they shot a better percentage from the floor, are 10-0 when scoring 70 points and 10-1 when attempting more free throws than the opponent.
• Ben Lammers’ +11.5 per game scoring average increase over the 2015-16 season is the best in the ACC. But Tadric Jackson (+6.2) and Quinton Stephens (+5.6) also have posted impressive increases over last season. Josh Heath (+2.8) has more than doubled his 2015-16 average.
• Josh Okogie, with 27 points at NC State and 13 against Clemson last week, was named the ACC Rookie of the Week for the third time this season, and the second time during conference play. he owns the second-best scoring average in ACC games (18.4) of any freshman in the league.
• Okogie’s 251 points through 17 games (averaging 18.4 in ACC games) are the most for a Yellow Jacket freshman since Chris Bosh piled up 270 through his first 17 games in 2002-03, and he has 13 double-digit efforts.
PASTNER AUDIO FROM MONDAY
• Virginia Tech has won 16 of 22 all-time meetings with Georgia Tech, including 12 of 17 as a member of the ACC.
• The Hokies have rallied late to win the last two games in the series, including a 78-77 win last Jan. 16 at McCamish Pavilion, and a 65-63 win on Feb. 9, 2015 at Cassell Coliseum. The Yellow Jackets won the two meetings before that, closing the 2013-14 regular season with a 62-51 win at McCamish Pavilion, and taking a 64-54 win on Feb. 9, 2013, in Blacksburg.
• The 2013 win in Blacksburg was the first Georgia Tech triumph at Cassell Coliseum in eight tries, and the Jackets are 1-8 in Blacksburg all-time.
• The Hokies, led by future NBA star Dell Curry, held off the Jackets and their future All-Americans Mark Price and John Salley, 77-74, in the teams’ first meeting, a first-round post-season NIT game, at Cassell Coliseum in 1984.
• Both teams were members of the old Metro Conference, but not at the same time. Georgia Tech was a member for three seasons from 1975-76 through 1977-78 before leaving to join the ACC. Virginia Tech joined the league for the 1978-79 season.
PASTNER ON TECH’S OFFENSE AT NC STATE
“When you make shots, it makes a coach look good, and tonight we made shots. We had 24 assists on 31 made field goals, 13 on 15 in the first half, and that’s been really important to me as a head coach – player movement and ball movement. We’re getting better at that. We’re very limited offensively, but when we have good player movement and ball movement, it creates good shots for us.”
“We haven’t lived by the three at all. We don’t shoot a lot of threes. But we need to shoot our threes when their open. We’ve got to have our feet set, and it’s got to come off the second- and third-side and one-mores. To win at a high level, you’ve got to shoot the ball.”
• Georgia Tech ranks No. 49 (through Monday’s games) in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom.com, No. 37 in the nation in field goal percentage defense, No. 89 in scoring defense.
• The Yellow Jackets have risen to No. 89 in CBSSports.com RPI (through games of Monday), and have a 3-3 record vs, teams ranked in the top 50 of that RPI.
• All three of Tech’s ACC wins have come by double digits. Sunday night’s game at NC State (10 points) is the closest decision in five conference games.
• Tech’s 86 points at NC State were a season high, four better than its 82 against Tulane on 11/26.
• Tech started Heath, Lammers, Moore, Okogie and Stephens for the third straight game. It is the fifth different starting lineup used by the Jackets this season. Three Yellow Jackets – Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Quinton Stephens – have started every game this season.
• Tech led at the half for the 11th time this season (42-41), and for the second straight game. The Yellow Jackets are 10-1 when leading at the half this season.
• Following a pattern in all three of its ACC wins, once Tech took the lead in the second half, it never relinquished it. Tadric Jackson’s layup with 15:46 left broke a 47-all tie, and the Yellow Jackets led the rest of the way, by as many as 14. The closest NC State came was 58-56 with 11:11 remaining. Tech led for 22:59 overall in the game.
• Tech shot 49.2 percent from the floor after entering the game at 39.8 percent for ACC games. Coupled with its 46.6 percent against Clemson, the Yellow Jackets have connected on 47.1 percent from the floor (58-of-123) in their last two games.
• Five Tech players scored in double figures, which has happened on only two other occasions this season – Sam Houston State on 11/22 and Wofford on 12/22.
• Tech’s 10 three-point field goals were easily a season high (previous – 7 vs. Penn State). The Jackets were 10-of-16, 62.5 percent, best of the season, beating the 6-for-11 (54.5 pct.) against Sam Houston State.
• Tech won the rebounding battle for the second straight game (42-35), and is plus-18 in its last two games after losing the boards in four straight games.
• Tech went 14-for-17 from the free throw line, and have connected on 79.4 percent (85-for-107) in five ACC games.
• Tech’s 11 turnovers were the team low for an ACC game and one off the season low (10 vs. Wofford).
• Tech blocked 10 shots in the game (5 by Ben Lammers), the team’s most in a game since setting the school record of 16 back on 11/14 vs. Southern.
• Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on 24 (season-high assists) of 31 made field goals (77.4 pct.) vs. NC State – 60 percent goal accomplished. Tech is at 61.5 percent for the season, 67.2 percent in ACC games. Tech has 43 assists on 58 field goals in its last two games (74.1 pct.).
• Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents’ attempts): Tech made 14 of 17 free throws to NC State’s 10 of 15 (goal of making more than opponent tries not accomplished). For the season, Tech has made 263 free throws, opponents have attempted 285. In ACC games, Tech has made 85 free throws, while the opponents have tried 85.
• Josh Okogie scored 27 points and reached double figures for the 13th time this season. Okogie scored 15 of his points by halftime. He finished 10-of-18 from the floor, making all three of his three-point attempts. It was his second 20-plus game against an ACC team (26 vs. North Carolina), and the freshman guard is averaging a team-high 18.4 points in ACC games (47.8 pct. FG, 5-of-10 on threes, 74.2 pct. FT).
• Josh Heath posted his first career double-double, scoring 10 points with a career-high 10 assists. He scored in double figures for the third time this season and for the second time in five ACC games. His 10 assists surpassed the nine he had last season against Southeastern Louisiana, and he has 18 in his last two games, 4.8 per ACC game. It was the first 10-assist game by a Tech player since Iman Shumpert dished 11 vs. Virginia Tech on Jan. 25, 2011.
• Ben Lammers earned his ninth double-double of the season against NC State despite scoring just two points (on FT) in the first half. He reached 10 points with a pair of free throws in the final minute, and grabbed 11 rebounds. Lammers has scored in double figures in every game but one this season.
• Lammers blocked five shots in the game, his most since swatting six on 11/22 vs. Sam Houston State. He is averaging 3.29 for the season, 2.2 per ACC game.
• Quinton Stephens tied his career high with 22 points against NC State, hitting 7-of-14 from the floor, 4-of-8 from three-point range and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. He added six rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal, playing seconds shy of 40 minutes (a career high). Stephens notched his 12th double-digit game of the season. He is averaging 11.8 points in ACC games.
• Coupled with his 16 points against Clemson, his season high before Sunday, Stephens has put together the best back-to-back games of his career with 38 in his last two games. Before this season, Stephens had never put together back-to-back double-digit games. He has 12 double-digit games this season.
• Lammers and Stephens are both averaging 35.6 minutes per game against the ACC. Okogie is averaging 33.0.
• Tadric Jackson reached double digits (13 points) for the third time in ACC play and for the 10th time this season. He had two assists and no turnovers in 30 minutes. Jackson, who did not start, was on the floor for the final 17:26 (except the last 31 seconds when the game was in hand). Jackson also played the final 13:09 of the win vs. Clemson.
VIRGINIA TECH COACH BUZZ WILLIAMS ON TECH
“He’s doing a phenomenal job. He hired a really good staff. Ben Lammers is going to be the most improved player in the league. [Josh Okogie] may be one of the freshman of the year if you take out the one-and-dones. Josh has gone a tremendous job of getting them to play together. I don’t think they were picked last because of their talent, but Josh and his staff have done a tremendous job of maxing out that talent. Georgia Tech is constantly changing defenses. They play every kind of zone there is, and they do a good job of keeping teams from getting into a flow.”
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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