Dec. 31, 2016
ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner says he has the nation’s least experienced roster.
He knows almost nobody thought his team would beat North Carolina so early into his first season.
”I’m really happy that this will give us some pep in our step, some momentum for the fan base,” Pastner said. ”They know this is a rebuild, but hopefully they can see the big picture down the road of what we want to do.”
Josh Okogie scored 26 points, Ben Lammers had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Georgia Tech pulled off a major upset with a 75-63 victory over No. 9 North Carolina on Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Justin Jackson finished with 16 points and Nate Britt scored 13 for the Tar Heels, who committed a season-high 20 turnovers. North Carolina (12-3, 0-1) never led after Okogie hit two free throws with 11:59 remaining.
”I told Josh that he did a much better job of coaching his team than I did and getting his team prepared than I did my team,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. ”I think early we took too many outside shots. We lost confidence, and they got more confidence. Their zone (defense) got stronger.”
Before tipoff it seemed the Jackets (9-4, 1-0) had little chance to win. They didn’t beat North Carolina A&T, which is 1-12, until the closing minutes on Wednesday. They also held off Wofford last week by four points and lost by 17 to Georgia. All were home games.
Pastner decided this week to demand more from Okogie. The coach was tired of seeing the freshman from nearby Snellville not using his full potential.
”No personal attacks, but if you’re not playing well, I’m not into sugarcoating,” Pastner said. ”I don’t believe in gray area, and he was told the truth about how he’s been playing.”
Okogie attacked on the Jackets’ end throughout. North Carolina didn’t adapt.
”Not only do I suck in the defense and kick it to others, I’m also putting the defense on their heels,” Okogie said. ”I felt like I needed to continue doing that and when I did we were successful.”
The Tar Heels, who lost to Villanova in the national title game last season, had won three straight overall and seven straight in the series, but they shot poorly, missing 21 of 26 3-point attempts and hitting just 33 percent overall.
North Carolina had a big advantage in the stands as their fans outnumbered Georgia Tech’s about three to one. The Tar Heels gave them few chances to get charged up.
”For me, it was crazy,” Okogie said. ”I didn’t even know who the crowd was cheering for us or North Carolina.”
Georgia Tech: The Jackets pulled off second big upset in the last 13 months at McCamish Pavilion. They beat Notre Dame, which advanced to the Final Four, last January. … Began the game ranked last in ACC scoring 68.1 points. … Closed first half by missing 13 of 15 from the field.
Georgia Tech: Visits No. 5 Duke on Wednesday.