Jan. 12, 2016
THE FLATS – The Yellow Jackets followed up two close losses to No. 7/8 North Carolina (86-78) and No. 24/21 Pittsburgh (89-84) by capturing its first win over a top-5 team in six years with Saturday’s victory over Virginia. The Yellow Jackets scored significant wins in their non-conference schedule over Tennessee, Arkansas and VCU.
Notre Dame, which began the season in the top 20 in both the Associated Press and coaches polls, dropped an 86-82 decision at home to Pittsburgh Saturday, its first home loss of the season. The Fighting Irish fell to No. 4 Virginia on the road in its ACC opener, and routed Boston College, 82-54, on the road before that. Notre Dame defeated Iowa and Illinois during its pre-ACC slate.
Wednesday’s game will be televised regionally on the ACC Network (WATL-TV in Atlanta) and will be streamed live on ESPN3. Radio coverage of the game is provided by the Georgia Tech/IMG Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on 680 the Fan (680 AM and 93.7 FM). The game can also be heard nationally on satellite radio (Sirius ch. 132, XM ch. 191).
“[Georgia Tech has] got a better team and I know they played twice on the road and fought against [North] Carolina and Pitt. They’re so much more balanced inside out this year and that was an issue. Whenever we got it close, they hit a couple big shots.” — Virginia head coach Tony Bennett following Tech’s win over Virginia
“I’m proud of our guys, proud of the way we played and proud of the way we competed, and it’s just a great ACC home-opening win for us. Our guys have never wavered over the last week with the tough road losses. I think our guys fully expected to come out and play well today and win the game, and that’s exactly what we did. And you have to.” — Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory following Tech’s win over Virginia
Georgia Tech is looking for its first ACC road win since defeating No. 28 Miami last Jan. 28, and is looking for its first win in Purcell Pavilion since Feb. 4, 1990. Tech is 1-3 in the arena. The Yellow Jackets have lost on their first two visits to South Bend since Notre Dame joined the ACC by a total of 10 points, one of those games in double-overtime.
Notre Dame and Clemson are Georgia Tech’s two permanent home-and-away opponents in the ACC. The Fighting Irish come to Atlanta for a Saturday night game at McCamish Pavilion on Feb. 20.
Tech opened its ACC schedule with three straight top-25 opponents — #7/8 North Carolina, #24/21 Pittsburgh and #4/4 Virginia — for the first time since the 2000-01 season, when the Yellow Jackets opened against #13/14 North Carolina, #17/17 Maryland, #10/9 Virginia (#6/6 Wake Forest made it four in a row that year). Tech lost the first two games and won the next two.
One of the top offensive teams in college basketball when it won the ACC last year, Notre Dame remains potent, ranking ninth in the nation in field goal percentage (50.6 pct.) and 18th in three-point percentage (40.3 pct.). The Fighting Irish rank seventh in the ACC in scoring average (78.6 points per game), one spot ahead of Tech.
Tech’s win over Virginia lifted the Yellow Jackets to No. 40 in the CBSSports.com RPI rankings. The Jackets’ strength of schedule ranks No. 36.
Georgia Tech last won back-to-back ACC games on March 4 and 8, 2014 (at Syracuse, Virginia Tech at home).
Still relentless on the boards – Tech is out-rebounding its opponents by 8.8 per game, which ranks 22nd in the nation and No. 4 in the ACC. Tech has out-rebounded 13 of 16 opponents this season. Tech is No. 3 in the ACC and 28th nationally in offensive rebounds per game (13.8).
Turnovers down – Tech has turned the ball over only 50 times in its last six games, and the Yellow Jackets are averaging 10.4 this season (4th in the ACC, 14th NCAA), down more than two per game (12.7) from last season. Tech has averaged 9.3 turnovers in ACC play.
Scoring up – Tech is averaging 77.5 points per game (eighth in the ACC), more than 14 points per game higher than last season, and has hit the century mark twice this season. The Yellow Jackets have connected on 45.8 percent of their field goal tries, an increase of five percent over last year.
Outside threat – Tech’s 38.5-percent success rate from three-point range is up 12 percent over last year. The Yellow Jackets have hit 42.9 percent over their last 10 games, 50 percent against the ACC, and rank 37th nationally in three-point field goal percentage.
Four Georgia Tech players are averaging in double digits – Adam Smith (14.8), Marcus Georges-Hunt (14.6 ppg), Charles Mitchell (12.9) and Nick Jacobs (10.1). Tech has not finished a season with four or more players averaging in double figures since 2008-09.
Tech made two changes to its starting lineup for the last game against Virginia, inserting Quinton Stephens and James White for Josh Heath and Nick Jacobs, respectively. Only Marcus Georges-Hunt, Charles Mitchell and Adam Smith have started all 16 games this season. Georges-Hunt was the point guard in that alignment for the Yellow Jackets.
Mitchell’s 11 double-doubles this season leads the ACC and ranks fifth in the nation (three players have 13). Mitchell is bidding to become the first Tech player to average in double digits in points and rebounds since Alvin Jones in 2000-01. Only Jones and Malcolm Mackey (1991-92 and 1992-93) have done so since Tech joined the ACC.
Mitchell leads the ACC in rebound average (11.3 rpg) and offensive rebounds (4.06 per game). Mitchell ranks eighth and ninth, respectively, in the nation in those categories.
Georges-Hunt ranks 22nd on Tech’s all-time scoring list. He has leaped past 13 players on the list this season and now has 1,360 career points.
Smith leads the ACC in three-point field goals made (3.50 per game) and third in percentage (47.1). He ranks 11th and 16th, respectively, in the nation in those two categories.
In 16 games, Smith has made more three-pointers (56) than Tech’s leader in each of the past four seasons and the most for any Tech player since 2009-10. He is 29-for-53 (54.7 pct.) in his last six games.
Josh Heath is No. 2 in the ACC and 15th nationally in assist-turnover ratio (3.61-1) and has 31 assists with five turnovers in Tech’s last seven games. Tech has a 1.43-1 team ratio (5th in the ACC, 33rd nationally).
Tech’s top five scorers this season — Marcus Georges-Hunt, Charles Mitchell, Adam Smith, Nick Jacobs and Quinton Stephens — have hit a combined 73.4 percent (179-244) of their charity tosses this season.
INSIDE THE SERIES WITH NOTRE DAME
Georgia Tech holds a 7-5 lead in the all-time series with Notre Dame that began in the 1940-41 season. The Fighting Irish have won the last three meetings, including a sweep of the regular-season set in 2014-15.
Within a 12-day span last season, Notre Dame won in South Bend in double-overtime, 83-76, then completed the sweep with a 62-59 decision in McCamish Pavilion. The Irish also won the second meeting of 2013-14, a 65-62 win in South Bend.
Prior to that, the Yellow Jackets had 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 Atlantic Coast Conference 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 2-4 in games played in South Bend, and 1-2 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.
Four of the five meetings before that were played with Whack Hyder as Tech’s head coach, and the Jackets won three of those, including an 82-62 win in 1972 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Phelps’ first season as the Fighting Irish head coach.
THEY SAID IT…
“He’s such a talented and gifted (player), and he’s a man. He’s been through the battles of our league. I’m so impressed with Georgia Tech. Brian has done such a great job, kind of re-inventing his group. They are really gifted offensively. They have changed their M.O., and they can come at you and attack you. They’ve always had bodies. That’s such a tough matchup when you have a big guy handling the ball up there, and we have to make some decisions on who would match up with him when he’s handling the ball up top.” — Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey on Marcus Georges-Hunt and Georgia Tech’s improvement
“Georgia Tech played hard. They were hungry, they were physical and aggressive; they are much improved. Brian has done a great job; their balance in scoring. The game Stephens had, the shots that he hit, one or two were open, but some of them were very contested. The addition of Smith, some perimeter shooting, with Georges-Hunt in there, he’s such a complete and powerful player on the perimeter. There are some workhorses inside, they have some balance offensively. You could see it on the road, and the physicality that they played with against us.” — Virginia head coach Tony Bennett on how Georgia Tech is different from last year
“They’re playing at a faster pace, which fits their personnel very well; they’ve got some changes from what they had last year. But they’re opening the floor up. I think the faster pace and opening up the floor has been good for them with Marcus and Smith and some of the shooters they have. I think they’re better in every area, but the one that shows up statistically is they were one of the poorer three-point shooting teams last year, and they’ve had some big days shooting the three-pointer this year. That in itself has opened things up for their big guys as well.” — North Carolina head coach Roy Williams on Georgia Tech
“I thought we defended them well, and they made some tough shots. I’m not surprised that they beat Virginia because of how well they played against us.” — Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is beginning its fifth year under head coach Brian Gregory. The Yellow Jackets have 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).