THE FLATS – Georgia Tech finishes a stretch of three games in seven days Saturday afternoon when Syracuse comes to Atlanta for a noon contest at McCamish Pavilion that is part of a big early-season weekend of Atlantic Coast Conference basketball games. It is the first of two meetings for the Yellow Jackets and Orange this season, with the return engagement coming Feb. 22 at the Carrier Dome.
Tech (4-2. 1-0 ACC), in its fourth season under head coach Josh Pastner, has won its last two games, defeating Nebraska, 73-56, Wednesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge after slipping past Bethune-Cookman, 68-65, last Sunday. Four of Tech’s games this season have been decided by four points or less. Two of those were one-point overtime games, including an 82-81 Tech win over NC State in the season opener on Nov. 5.
Syracuse (4-4, 0-1 ACC), in its 44th season under head coach Jim Boeheim, is playing its first true road game of the season. The Orange have lost three straight games, including a 68-54 defeat at home to Iowa Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and losses to Oklahoma state and Penn State in the NIT Season Tipoff. Syracuse reeled off four straight wins after opening the season with a 48-34 loss at home to Virginia.
Saturday’s game will be televised live on the ACC Network. Live streaming is available through the ESPN app. Radio coverage is provided through Learfield IMG College, airing in Atlanta on 680 AM and 93.7 FM the Fan and through the TuneIn app. The Tech broadcast is also available on satellite radio (XM ch. 382, internet ch. 972).
Head coach Josh Pastners Friday press conference
- The right foot – A win over Syracuse would give Georgia tech its first 2-0 start in the Atlantic Coast Conference since the 2005-06 season. The Yellow Jackets opened that season with victories against Virginia and Boston College, both at home.
- The big test – Georgia Tech is in the midst of its fall semester final exams, which began Thursday and conclude next Wednesday. Tech does not play again until next Saturday with a visit to Rupp Arena to play No. 9 Kentucky.
- Busy week – After playing its first four games over a 20-day period, Georgia Tech is finishing off three games in seven days this week, all at home, before taking time off for the rest of finals week.
- No ducking – Georgia Tech’s schedule includes six power conference teams in its first eight games, including road games at NC State and Georgia and home games against Arkansas among the first four. This week, Tech hosted Nebraska Wednesday night and Syracuse Saturday ahead of a road trip to Kentucky (Dec. 14).
- Beefing up – With a more veteran team in 2019-20, Georgia Tech made an effort to strengthen its non-conference schedule, beginning a two-game series with Kentucky and finishing another two-game set with Arkansas, while accepting an invitation to play in the Diamond Head Classic, in which the Jackets could wind up playing a pair of 2019 NCAA Tournament teams in Houston and Washington. Tech has also played its annual meeting against Georgia and the Big Ten/ACC matchup against Nebraska.
- Tech has the ACC’s leading scorer (23.8 ppg) and the nation’s top three-point shooter (.586) in sophomore guard Michael Devoe. Devoe’s scoring average also ranks No. 6 nationally, and he stands No. 4 in the ACC in field goal percentage (.548) and No. 1 in minutes played (37.33).
- Tech also has the nation’s leading shot-blocker in senior center James Banks III (4.7 per game). Banks III also ranks No. 4 in the ACC in rebound average (9.3 per game).
- Tech has played four of its last five games, and most of the fifth, without junior point guard Jose Alvarado, who has a right ankle injury. Alvarado led Tech in scoring, assists and steals last season.
SERIES VS. SYRACUSE
- Tech has won three of seven meetings between the two teams since Syracuse joined the ACC and five of 11 meetings in the history of the series, which dates back to the 1986 NCAA Tournament.
- Tech and Syracuse have played home-and-away only once since the Orange joined the ACC, with each team winning at home during the 2016-17 season. Tech won the teams’ only regular-season meeting in 2018-19 by a score of 73-59 at the Carrier Dome.
- Five of the seven meetings as ACC brethren have been decided by six points or fewer.
- Tech has won two of the three meetings between the two teams at McCamish Pavilion, including a 55-51 decision in the 2017-18 season (the 2017 victory was vacated by the NCAA Committee on Infractions).
- Tech has won twice in four visits to the Carrier Dome, including a 67-62 decision on March 4, 2014, with the Orange ranked No. 7 in the nation, the first meeting between the teams after Syracuse joined the ACC.
- Three of the first four games in the series were played on neutral courts, the first of which had the highest stakes, a second-round NCAA Tournament game at the Omni in Atlanta in 1985.
- The last meeting between the two teams before Syracuse joined the ACC occurred in the championship game of the Legends Classic in Atlantic City in 2010, and ninth-ranked Syracuse survived a 32-point effort by Brian Oliver (who later transferred to Seton Hall) to win, 80-76.
- Tech’s first trip to the Carrier Dome came in December of 2003, when the Orange, led by freshmen Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara, routed the Jackets with its freshman duo of Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack, 92-65, and eventually won the national championship.
- Syracuse had never played on Tech’s campus until the 2014-15 season, but the Yellow Jackets did host the 13th-ranked Orange in a Delta Air Lines Classic for Kids game at Philips Arena in 2001. Jim Boeheim missed the game due to prostate surgery and the Yellow Jackets won by 16.
Sophomore guard Michael Devoe chats with the media on Friday
FOLLOWING THE TRENDS
- Through six games, Georgia Tech ranks No. 25 in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com (89.7 points per 100 possessions). No. 3 nationally in effective defensive field goal percentage (38.7) and fourth in two-point field goal defense (37.9).
- Since the beginning of last season, Tech has held 23 opponents, including nine ACC opponents, under 40 percent from the floor. Five of six Tech opponents this season have shot under 40 percent, and the Jackets are No. 5 among NCAA teams, and No. 2 in the ACC, in field goal percentage defense (.346).
- The Jackets have limited 18 opponents, nine in the ACC, to 30 percent or less from three-point range in the same time frame. Tech ranks No. 25 in NCAA rankings at 27.8 percent allowed this season.
- Tech ranks No. 1 nationally in blocked shots with 48 in six games (8.0 per game). James Banks III is No. 1 in the nation individually with 28 in six games (4.7 per game).
- Tech ranks third in the nation in defensive rebounding with 33.2 per game.
- Georgia Tech’s adjusted tempo is 71.6 possessions per game according to KenPom (89th in the nation), well ahead of the 66.1 possessions per game last season and 66.8 in 2016-17. Game-by-game, Tech has 73, 77, 78, 68, 65 and 80 possessions and has exceeded 100 points/100 possessions three times in five games.
- Tech’s 71.0 points per game this season is more than any Yellow Jacket team has been able to sustain over a full season since 2015-16 (73.2). That is the only time the Jackets have finished a season at 70 points or more per game in the last nine seasons.
- Tech has reached 70 possessions per game over the course of a full season only four times since 1997, the first year KenPom kept 1997-98 (72.3), 2000-01 (72.1), 2001-02 (70.5) and 2008-09 (70.5).
- Two fouls in the first half? No problem. Georgia Tech ranks No. 1 in the nation, according to KenPom.com, in 2-foul participation, a measure of percentage of available minutes played by players with two fouls (70.7 pct. for Tech). The Jackets led the nation in this category in 2018-19 and was fourth i9n 2017-18.
- Evan Cole started in place of James Banks III for the second straight game. The lineup of Devoe, Parham, Moore, Cole and Wright also started the Bethune-Cookman game and is now 2-0.
- Tech has led at halftime only twice in six games this season. The Jackets are 39-12 under Josh Pastner when leading at the half.
- Tech has won two of its games by 23 (Elon) and 17 (Nebraska) points, Tech’s other four games other this season have been decided by a total of nine points.
- Tech, the nation’s leader in blocked shots coming into the game, hit its average with eight against Nebraska and now has 48 in six games this season. Against the Cornhuskers, five different Tech players blocked a shot, led by Moses Wright with three.
- Tech’s 32 field goals against Nebraska were its most in a game since hitting 32 in the 2018-19 season opener against Lamar, and its 73 field goal attempts were its most in a game since taking 73 shots against Boston College in the ACC Tournament on March 6, 2018.
- Tech opponents have taken 50 more shots from the floor than have the Yellow Jackets this season, an average of nearly 10 attempts per game. But Tech has made 20 more (45.2 percent to 34.6 percent).
- Tech has connected on just 9-of-44 three-point field goals in its last three games (2-for-11 vs. Arkansas, 2-for-10 vs. Bethune-Cookman, 5-for-23 vs. Nebraska) after hitting 21-of-63 (33.3 percent) in the first three games of the season.
- Tech had more assists than turnovers against Nebraska, the first time since the season opener at NC State (20 over 18) that has happened.
- The 18 Husker turnovers were the most Tech has forced this season.
- Tech scored a season high 48 points in the paint against Nebraska and is averaging 35.3 points per game there over six games. The Jackets have outscored all six opponents in the paint.
- Michael Devoe, the ACC’s leading scorer, scored 26 points against Nebraska, notching his fifth 20-point game this season and sixth of his career. He reached double digits for the 21st time in his career and for the sixth time in six games this season.
- Devoe is also the ACC’s leading three-point shooter by percentage, hitting 17-of-29 this season (58.6 percent), including 4-of-8 against Nebraska. He went 10-of-17 overall, improving his season rate to 54.8 percent, which ranks in the ACC’s top five.
- Devoe matched his career high with seven assists against Nebraska and came up one shy of his career high in rebounds with eight. He also had a team-high three steals.
- Moses Wright came up one rebound shy of his second straight double-double, matching his season high with 18 points and grabbing nine rebounds against Nebraska. Wright is averaging 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds this season, both career highs, and has hit 58.2 percent of his shots from the floor (8-of-14 against Nebraska).
- James Banks III blocked just two shots against Nebraska, playing a season-low 24:24. He has 28 in six games this season for an average of 4.3, still No. 1 in the ACC and 1.8 per game more than last season.
- Bubba Parham has not turned the ball over in Tech’s last two games, covering 68 minutes. The junior from Snellville, Ga., had a season-high four assists against Nebraska and had six points, four rebounds and two steals in 32:27.
- Freshman Asanti Price scored a season-high six points with four rebounds and two steals.
- Evan Cole continued to play solid basketball with eight points and six rebounds against Nebraska. In Tech’s last three games, he has 20 points (10-for-19 from the floor) and 18 rebounds.
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ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its fourth 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 Ramblinwreck.com.
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