Jan. 8, 2016
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech (10-5, 0-2 ACC), following a pair of close road losses to open the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule, comes home for its conference opener at McCamish Pavilion to host fourth-ranked Virginia (12-2, 1-1 ACC) at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Tech has begun its ACC schedule with an 86-78 loss at No. 7/8 North Carolina and an 89-84 defeat at No. 24/21 Pittsburgh after completing its non-conference schedule 10-3 with three straight wins. The Yellow Jackets are playing three of their first four conference games on the road, with Saturday’s game the lone home-court contest, and the Cavaliers are Tech’s third straight top-25 opponent to begin the ACC schedule.
Virginia is coming off a 70-68 loss to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Monday night after opening its ACC slate with a 77-66 home win over Notre Dame last Saturday. The loss to the Hokies snapped an 11-game winning streak for the Cavaliers’ whose only other loss came in their second game of the season to George Washington. Virginia is 1-2 on the road this season.
Saturday’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 Tech radio broadcast can also be heard nationally on satellite radio (Sirius ch. 81, XM ch. 81).
“They kept coming at us, and give them credit for that. They’re a really great team with good players who can score the basketball. They made shots down the stretch. They’re a comfortable team.” — Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon
“We got to the point where we had to almost score on every play. We left some points on the free throw line, and missed some point blank shots around the basket we need to finish. But in the game you’re not going to make every free throw and every shot around the basket. Tonight we had to because we couldn’t get any stops on the other end.” — Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory following the loss at Pitt
Virginia is the highest-ranked team (No. 4/4) to visit McCamish Pavilion since it opened.
Georgia Tech has lost just once at home this season, building an 8-1 record at McCamish Pavilion with the lone loss by one point on a buzzer-beating three-point shot to East Tennessee State.
Tech is opening 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.
This is Tech’s fourth game against a top-25 team this season, having lost to #8/9 Villanova, #7/8 North Carolina and #24/21 Pittsburgh, all away from home.
Tech and Virginia faced one common non-conference opponent – Villanova. The Yellow Jackets lost to the Wildcats, 69-52, Nov. 27 on a neutral floor, while the Cavaliers earned an 86-75 victory at home on Dec. 19.
Virginia remains one of the ACC’s and the nation’s best defensive team, ranking second in the conference and eighth in the nation allowing 60.4 points per game. But the Cavaliers also have shot 50.4 percent from the floor this season (No. 2 in the ACC, No. 9 in the nation). They rank fourth in offensive efficiency and No. 32 in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com.
Still relentless on the boards – Tech is out-rebounding its opponents by 8.6 per game, which ranks 22nd in the nation and No. 4 in the ACC. Tech has out-rebounded 12 of 15 opponents this season. Tech is No. 3 in the ACC and 29th nationally in offensive rebounds per game (13.9).
Turnovers down – Tech has turned the ball over only 41 times in its last five games, and the Yellow Jackets are averaging 10.5 this season (5th in the ACC, 19th NCAA), down more than two per game (12.7) from last season.
Scoring up – Tech is averaging 78.1 points per game (seventh 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 45.9 percent of their field goal tries, an increase of five percent over last year.
Outside threat – Tech’s 37.7-percent success rate from three-point range is up 11 percent over last year. The Yellow Jackets have hit 41.9 percent over their last nmine games.
Three Georgia Tech players are averaging in double digits – Marcus Georges-Hunt (15.2 ppg), Adam Smith (14.7), Charles Mitchell (13.4) – and Nick Jacobs sits at 9.7, having been above 10.0 most of the season. Tech has not finished a season with four or more players averaging in double figures since 2008-09.
Of the six players to start a game for Georgia Tech this year, only one – Georges-Hunt – began his career at Tech. Tech has used the starting lineup of Marcus Georges-Hunt, Josh Heath and Adam Smith at the guards, and Nick Jacobs and Charles Mitchell at the forwards for 13 of its 15 games.
Tech has played at least 10 players in every game this season except VCU (Travis Jorgenson sat with an ankle injury), and played its entire 12-man roster against Cornell, Green Bay, Wofford and Colgate.
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 (11.6 rpg) and is fifth in field goal percentage (56.8 pct.). Mitchell ranks seventh and 48th, 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 1,355 career points.
Smith leads the ACC in three-point field goals made (3.47 per game) and fifth in percentage (47.4). He ranks 10th and 11th, respectively, in the nation in those two categories.
In 15 games, Smith has made more three-pointers (52) than Tech’s leader in each of the past four seasons and the most for any Tech player since 2009-10. He is 25-for-44 (56.8 pct.) in his last four games.
Heath is No. 2 in the ACC and 19th nationally in assist-turnover ratio (3.44-1) and has 28 assists with five turnovers in Tech’s last six games. Tech’s point guard tandem of Heath and Travis Jorgenson have 102 assists and 28 turnovers for a 3.81-1 ratio. 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 73.7 percent (168-228) of their charity tosses this season.
INSIDE THE SERIES WITH VIRGINIA
Virginia has won eight of the last nine meetings, but Georgia Tech leads the all-time series, 39-37.
Virginia has won the last three meetings, including the team’s only regular-season game in 2014-15, a 57-28 contest on Jan. 22 at John Paul Jones Arena.
Tech is 1-1 against Virginia in McCamish Pavilion. Overall, Tech was 21-8 against the Cavaliers in Alexander Memorial Coliseum, is 23-11 on all home courts and 25-12 in games played in the city of Atlanta.
Since Tech joined the ACC, the Yellow Jackets are 37-36 against Virginia.
Brian Gregory is 1-4 vs. Virginia, and Tony Bennett is 7-1 vs. Tech.
Tech has averaged just 53.3 points per game in seven meetings against Bennett’s Virginia teams, and 42.3 points over the last three games in the series.
Tech and Virginia have played to overtime seven times since the 1983-84 season, including a 72-71 triple-overtime win for Tech in Atlanta on Jan. 23, 1984, and an 88-85 double-overtime triumph for Virginia in Charlottesville on Jan. 22, 1995.
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).