THE FLATS – Georgia Tech returns to Atlantic Coast Conference play to face Notre Dame Saturday at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind. Tip time is 12 p.m. for the teams’ rematch of the Fighting Irish’s 78-74 victory over the Jackets on Jan. 15 in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech update (10-11, 4-6 ACC) – Tech sits in a tie for ninth place in the ACC, tied with Pittsburgh and Boston College. The Yellow Jackets captured their first homecourt ACC win Saturday over fifth-place NC State (64-58), securing a season sweep over the Wolfpack, and followed that with an 82-54 non-conference win Tuesday over Morehouse. Tech is 3-2 on the road in the ACC this season with victories over NC State, North Carolina and Boston College.
Notre Dame update (12-8, 3-6 ACC) – Notre Dame went 3-4 during the month of January, but only Wednesday night’s 90-80 victory over Wake Forest was decided by more than five points. The Fighting Irish, tied for 12th place with North Carolina a half-game behind Tech, lost a three-point decision to Louisville and a two-point game to Syracuse at home before defeating the Demon Deacons.
Broadcast information – Live television on the ACC’s Regional Sports Networks (Fox Sports South in Georgia). Online streaming on ACC Network Extra available through the ESPN app. Radio coverage by Learfield IMG College (680 AM and 93.7 FM the Fan in Atlanta, TuneIn app). Tech broadcast available on satellite radio (XM ch. 384, internet ch. 974).
Head coach Josh Pastner meets the media prior to Thursday's practice
- Get even – In order for Georgia Tech to even the season series against Notre Dame, the Yellow Jackets will have to win in South Bend for the first time since the Fighting Irish joined the ACC. Tech has lost all six conference games there, by an average of 6.8 points. Tech last won there on Feb. 24, 1990. A win for the Irish would mean their first sweep over the Jackets since the 2014-15 season.
- Close calls – Tech’s last four ACC games have been decided by a total of 19 points. Notre Dame’s seven ACC games in January were decided by a total of 26 points, including the 10-point decision over Wake Forest.
- More snacks? – Tech is 3-2 on the road this season in the ACC, having defeated NC State, North Carolina and Boston College. A win Saturday would give the Jackets four ACC road wins for the first time since the 2007-08 season, when they finished 4-4.
- Playing tempo – Saturday’s game matches the No. 2 and 3 teams in the ACC in tempo according to KenPom.com. Notre Dame, at No. 2, also has the No. 2 team in the ACC (33rd nationally) in offensive efficiency. Tech is No. 28 nationally in defensive efficiency.
- Getting offensive – The last two meetings in the series between Tech and Notre Dame have been the highest scoring in the series since the Fighting Irish joined the ACC, with both teams scoring in the 70s. Every other game, except for the Jan. 3, 2015 meeting in South Bend, which Notre Dame won 83-76 in double-overtime, and the Jan. 13, 2016 game, which the Irish won 72-64, has been played in the 60s. In the teams’ Jan. 15 meeting in Atlanta, Tech made 15 of its last 19 shots from the floor, while Notre Dame made 13 of its final 16 to escape with the victory.
- Less than a full deck – Georgia Tech has had its full roster available for only 10 games this season, beginning with the first game of the Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 22. Junior forward Jordan Usher became eligible for the Yellow Jackets’ Dec. 18 game against Ball State, and junior point guard Jose Alvarado played for the first time since Nov. 20 at the diamond Head Classic. Leading scorer Michael Devoe was sidelined for Tech’s last two games with an injured left foot.
- Six – The number of different starting lineups Tech has used this season. Before Michael Devoe missed last Saturday’s game with an injured foot, Tech had sent the same five out for the opening tip for 10 straight games since the return of Jose Alvarado.
- Offense for defense – Georgia Tech ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring average in conference games (69.40) and 11th in scoring defense (72.3), a reversal of last year’s final rankings (15th scoring offense, 7th scoring defense).
- All-for-ado – Georgia Tech has averaged 69.5 points and shot 46.3 percent from the floor in the 12 games since Jose Alvarado returned to the court. The Yellow Jackets have shot 50 percent or better in five of those games.
- Wright stuff – Moses Wright has scored in double digits in 10 of his last 12 games, averaging 13.9 points and 6.6 rebounds while hitting 54.4 percent of his shots from the floor. The 6-9 junior ranks No. 2 in the ACC in field goal percentage (54.5) and No. 12 in rebound average (7.2).
- Big miss – Jose Alvarado has averaged 13.3 points, 4.4 assists and 2.7 steals in 12 games since his return from an ankle injury which sidelined him for seven games. He’s averaged 15.9 points over the last eight games.
- Brooklyn burglar – Alvarado’s nine steals vs. NC State broke the Tech single-game record of eight set by Kenny Anderson against Duke on Jan. 30, 1991. Only three players in ACC history have had more steals in a game, and only two of those occurred against an ACC opponent. It boosted his season average to 2.67 per game in ACC games, the top figure in the conference.
- Ushering in – Jordan Usher made his Tech debut Dec. 18 against Ball State after sitting out the required two semesters after he transferred from Southern California last January. The 6-7 junior guard/forward has averaged 8.4 points and 3.7 rebounds. In Tech’s six wins over that stretch, he has averaged 10.8 ppoints (24-43 FG), 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists.
- No ducking – Georgia Tech’s schedule is the ninth-strongest in the nation according to KenPom.com and the NCAA NET rankings, also ninth among power conference teams. Tech’s schedule includes nine games against quad 1 teams and 12 against quad 2 teams, four of those against non-conference teams. The Jackets’ non-conference schedule rates sixth-toughest among power conference teams, 45th overall.
SERIES VS. NOTRE DAME
- Georgia Tech and Notre Dame are tied 11-11 in the all-time series that began in the 1940-41 season. The Fighting Irish won the teams’ first meeting this season, 78-74, in Atlanta on Jan. 15 and have won the last three games of the series.
- Tech and Notre Dame split their regular-season meetings the last three seasons, each team winning at home.
- The Yellow Jackets are 5-9 against Notre Dame since the Fighting Irish joined the ACC, the 14 meetings decided by a total of 75 points. That includes the teams’ first ACC Tournament encounter this season. Notre Dame’s 69-59 win in South Bend on Feb. 10, 2019 is the widest margin.
- Notre Dame has won all six meetings at South Bend since the Fighting Irish became a member of the ACC.
- Tech is 2-8 in games played in South Bend, and 1-7 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.
James Banks III talks with the media prior to Thursday's practice.
- Georgia Tech ranks No. 28 in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com (92.2 points per 100 possessions), No. 31 nationally in effective defensive field goal percentage (45.0) and 42nd in two-point field goal defense (44.7).
- Since the beginning of last season, Tech has held 28 opponents, including 11 ACC foes, under 40 percent shooting from the floor (NC State connected on 37.9 percent). Ten Tech opponents this season have failed to hit 40 percent.
- The Jackets have limited 23 opponents, 11 in the ACC, to 30 percent or less from three-point range over the same period (NC State his 4-of-19, 21.1 percent). Nine Tech foes this season have made less than 30 percent.
- Tech has held five opponents to their lowest offensive efficiency of the season, including two of its foes in Hawai’i – Elon, Arkansas, Nebraska, Boise State and Hawai’i. Six other teams, including NC State (both meetings), Kentucky, Duke and Boston College, posted one of their six lowest offensive efficiency ratings against the Yellow Jackets.
- Georgia Tech’s adjusted tempo is 69.4 possessions per game according to KenPom.com (No. 116 in the nation), ahead of the 66.1 possessions per game last season and 66.8 in 2016-17, but the first time this season its temp rate has fallen below 70. Tech has played less than 70 possessions just six times. In ACC games, Tech has averaged 70.1 possessions, third-most in the league.
- Tech has reached 70 possessions per game over the course of a full season only four times since 1997, the first year KenPom kept track – 1997-98 (72.3), 2000-01 (72.1), 2001-02 (70.5) and 2008-09 (70.5).
- Tech has exceeded 100 points per 100 possessions seven times, including NC State, North Carolina, Boston College and Notre Dame in the ACC.
- 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 (68.0 pct. for Tech). The Jackets led the nation in this category in 2018-19, was fourth in 2017-18 and 35th in 2016-17.
- Tech’s bench played just 23:24 at Louisville and did not score a point. Last Saturday against NC State, reserves played 56:07 and scored 15 points.
- Tech has trailed at halftime in 14 of its 21 games this season, coming back to win five of those games, including last Saturday’s win over NC State. The Jackets are 15-50 when trailing at the half under Josh Pastner. The Jackets are 6-1 when leading at halftime (only loss was at Louisville).
- Tech has averaged 70.75 points per game away from home this season (75.00 in its five ACC road games), and averaged 65.3 at McCamish Pavilion.
- Tech played its entire roster against Morehouse save for injured guards Michael Devoe and Malachi Rice. None of the five starters played as many as 20 minutes. Three reserves played more than 20 minutes. Twelve of the 13 players who saw the court scored.
- Tech assisted on 24 of 30 made field goals against Morehouse, a season high for the Yellow Jackets in assists and percentage of assists on made field goals (80 percent). Tech has assisted on 59.9 percent of its made field goals in ACC games, the second-best rate in the ACC according to KenPom.com.
- Tech has averaged 40 points in the paint over its last eight games (42 vs. Morehouse), compared to 29.5 for its opponents. Only Duke (38-36) and Louisville (32-30) have scored more than Tech in that stretch.
- Tech went 14-of-17 from the free throw line against Morehouse and has hit better than 70 percent in nine of its last 12 games. Tech has converted 155-of-212 attempts (73.1 percent) over that stretch.
- The Jackets have hit 32.5 percent of their three-point field goal attempts in ACC games, which ranks middle-of-the-pack, compared with just 26.4 percent out of conference. Against Morehouse, Tech went 8-of-24, with seven different players making a three.
- Tech has averaged 15.2 turnovers in 12 games since the return of Jose Alvarado, compared with 17.4 prior to that. The Jackets committed 13 each against the Maroon Tigers and NC State in the last two games, fewest since Jan. 11 at Boston College (also 13). Only against Houston (9) has Tech turned the ball over fewer than 13 times in a game. With Alvarado on the floor this year, Tech has averaged 15.4 turnovers, compared with 18.6 in the seven games in which he was absent.
- Tech is minus-2 assist-to-turnovers in ACC games, minus-45 in non-conference games. The Jackets have been on the plus side of that ledger in five of the last eight games.
Jordan Usher talks with the local media prior to Thursday's practice.
- Khalid Moore has started the last two games for the Yellow Jackets in the absence of injured Michael Devoe, and 11 altogether this season. Moore scored nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from the floor, including a pair of threes, against Morehouse and has scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting combined in these two games. He also has posted the team’s best plus-minus mark in each game – plus-13 in his 21:12 against NC State, plus-32 in 17:37 vs. Morehouse.
- James Banks came up one rebound shy of a double-double against Morehouse, scoring 12 points (4-5 FG, 4-4 FT) with nine boards. He has averaged 11.9 points and 7.9 rebounds against ACC teams this season, hitting 56.9 percent of his shots from the floor.
- Moses Wright scored 11 points (4-5 FG, 3-4 FT) with four rebounds against Morehouse, just his second double-digit scoring game in the last four after a streak of eight straight in double figures.
- Wright has connected on 69.2 percent of his free throws (27-of-40) over Tech’s last 12 games after going just 4-of-14 in the first nine games of the season.
- Jose Alvarado has hit 16-of-42 shots (38.1 pct.) from three-point range in his last eight games (1-3 vs. Morehouse) and is 38-of-80 overall (47.5 pct.) during that stretch. The 6-foot junior scored just nine points, but had three assists against just one turnover and posted a plus-31 in the plus/minus column in 18:56.
- Evan Cole posted his first double-digit rebound game this season (10 to go with seven points) against Morehouse, matching his career high first set against Wake Forest on March 3, 2018 during his freshman year. Cole recorded nine twice (Elon, Arkansas) earlier this season.
- Jordan Usher has dealt six assists in each of his last two games against just three total turnovers. The 6-7 junior scored nine points (4-5 FG) against Morehouse and also took four steals, a season-best.
- Shembari Phillips scored a season-high seven points with a season-high five assists against no turnovers in a season-high 19:02. The seven points are his most since his first game in a Tech uniform, when he scored 10 against Lamar on Nov. 9 of last season.
Khalid Moore has started Tech’s last two games in the place of injured Michael Devoe and scored 14 points. (photo by Danny Karnik)
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ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL
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