Jan. 13, 2016
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
– Georgia Tech looks to make it back-to-back conference wins for the first time in two seasons when it travels to South Bend to take on Notre Dame. Tip-off at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center is set for 9 p.m.
On Saturday, the Yellow Jackets shook up their starting lineup then upended No. 4/4 Virginia, 68-64, in their ACC home-opener. Quinton Stephens, Adam Smith and Nick Jacobs each scored 16 to lead the Jackets, while James White added nine rebounds, five on the offensive end, both game-highs. Stephens, making his first start of the season, went 6-for-8, 4-for-4 from three and hit four of his first five shots early on to help Tech open up a 15-point first-half lead. They’d take an 11-point lead into the break. Virginia would knot the game, but Tech responded with an 11-0 run. After Jacobs hit two free throws to snap the tie, Stephens hit back-to-back threes and Smith concluded the outburst with one of his four threes on the day, to push the lead to 60-49. Tech would seal the game at the foul line, led by Jacobs, who hit four straight free throws in the final minute. GT held Virginia to 22.2 percent shooting from three (4-for-18) and outrebounded the Cavaliers, 41-29, to record the program’s first win against a top-5 team in the Brian Gregory Era and the school’s first since a 71-67 win over No. 5/5 Duke on Jan. 9, 2010 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Marcus Georges-Hunt had four assists and two steals in his first start at the point.
The Fighting Irish nearly came all the way back from a 16-point, second-half deficit, but came out on the short end of an 86-82 decision to No. 24 Pittsburgh on Saturday at Purcell Pavilion. Guard Demetrius Jackson poured in a game-high 26 points on 9-of-18 shooting, 5-for-10 from three, with six assists, while Steve Vasturia and Bonzie Colson each had 13 for Notre Dame, which suffered its first loss at home this season in eight home games. Both teams shot 50 percent for the game and Notre Dame held a 40-26 edge in points in the paint and a 13-5 edge off turnovers, but was outscored 26-10 off the bench and was outrebounded 34-23. Notre Dame trailed by 16 with 9:23 to go, but pulled to within two inside two minutes. They would get no closer. The two teams combined for just 10 miscues the entire game (PItt 7, ND, 3).
Saturday’s game will be the 13th meeting between the schools. Georgia Tech holds a slim 7-5 advantage, but has lost three straight meetings and is 2-4 all-time in South Bend.
The game can be seen on ACC Network (WATL in Atlanta) with Justin Kutcher and Cory Alexander calling the action. The game also will be streamed on ESPN3. It can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, WYAY (93.7 FM) and 680 The Fan (680 AM), with Brandon Gaudin and Randy Waters on the call, as well as on satellite radio on Sirius, channel 132, and XM, channel 191. Fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on Ramblinwreck.com and the GT Gameday App.
And now, the Starting Five for Wednesday’s game.
The Last Time We Met…: Demarco Cox had a game-high 17 points, seven rebounds and three blocks and Chris Bolden added 13 but Georgia Tech fell 62-59 on Jan. 14, 2015 at McCamish. The Jackets shot 53.6 percent in the first half and hit three-of-four from three in taking a 38-30 lead into the break. But they cooled off in the second half, shooting only 26.1 percent, only 2-of-6 from three, while Notre Dame shot 50 percent in the second 20 to forge the comeback. The game, the second between the two teams in 11 days, saw a tie and five lead-changes in the second half.
Three-markable!: Adam Smith is having a great three-point-shooting season even by HIS standards. Smith, who leads the ACC with 3.50 three-pointers per game and is third shooting 47.1 percent (he ranks 11th and 16th in the nation), is shooting 56.3 percent from behind the arc over Georgia Tech’s first three ACC games, having hit 18 of his 32 attempts. The 18 three-pointers in his first three conference games actually matches last season’s output with Virginia Tech but the difference this year is his efficiency. Last season, Smith, though shooting an impressive 40.9 percent, needed 44 tries to get to 18 3PTFGMs. Through his first three Colonial Athletic Association games as a freshman at North Carolina-Wilmington, Smith made 5-for-16 from three in his first three games, (31.3 percent). Smith has made at least four three-point shots in four straight games and five of the last six after having only two such games in his first 10 games. He had seven such games all last season with his longest streak being back-to-back games on two occasions.
Tech Trivia: Smith leads Georgia Tech in scoring in ACC play, averaging 22.0 points per game (second in the ACC by 3/10ths of a point). Who was the last Yellow Jacket to average at least 20 points per game in a full conference season?
Sweet 16: Nick Jacobs came up huge off the bench on Saturday, when he set his ACC-high with 16 points and made six of his seven free throw attempts. It was the most points he’s scored since Nov. 16, against Tennessee, when he had 23, and was the most points scored by a Yellow Jacket off the bench this season. Jacobs became the fifth different Yellow Jacket to come off the bench and score at least 10 points this season and the first Jacket to come off the bench to net 10 points in six games, since Tadric Jackson scored 14 on Dec. 29, at Georgia. Nick’s 16 helped the Jackets outscore the Cavaliers 19-8 off the bench, the first time in ACC play Tech won that battle and first time in four games.
You Can’t Spell Marcus without an ‘A’: Marcus Georges-Hunt has never been defined by points alone. He proved that against Virginia, when he made his first career start at the point and will get the opportunity to prove it again against Notre Dame. Georges-Hunt handed out four assists against only two turnovers against the Cavaliers. That game followed his six-assist effort (vs. three turnovers) at Pittsburgh, matching his career-high. Over the last four games, Georges-Hunt has 16 assists vs. nine turnovers, with the three against the Panthers being the most he’s had in a game. The four-game stretch is his most productive assist-wise in conference play and matches the best four-game stretch of his career. He also had 16 dimes as a sophomore, Dec. 3-21, 2013, vs. Illinois, East Tennessee State, and Kennesaw State and at Vanderbilt.
The Sixth Man: Brian Gregory isn’t blowing smoke when he talks about how difficult his team’s schedule has been this year. Heading into Wednesday’s game, the Jackets ranked 34th in strength of schedule. Notre Dame comes in at 41…Marcus Georges-Hunt begins today 22nd all-time in school history in scoring, with 1,360 points, having jumped 13 places this season. He’s four points away from moving into 21st and making it 14. Bobby Kimmel, who scored 1,363 between 1954 and ‘57 currently holds 21st. Georges-Hunt can then set his sights on the top 20. Marvin Lewis (2001-04) holds spot No. 20 right now, with 1,396 points…Trivia Answer: Matt Harpring averaged 21.6 ppg during the 1997-98 season to lead the Jackets. He also hit 31.8 from the three-point line (52-for-168)…The Jackets are shooting 50.8 percent (33-for-65) from three-point range in their three ACC games. That’s up more than 21 points from last year’s final total of 29.6…Georgia Tech bucked a trend on Saturday, as they won despite being outshot at the foul line. The Jackets are now 4-3 when taking fewer FTAs than their opponent. They’re 7-2 when they hold that advantage. Despite the free throw disparity (22-18), they were only outscored by two, as they outshot the Cavs, 66.7 percent (12-for-18) to 63.6 (14-for-22).
GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER: Adam Smith, 14.8 ppg
GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER: Adam Smith (ACC), 22.0 ppg
NOTRE DAME SCORING LEADER: Demetrius Jackson, 17.1 ppg
NOTRE DAME SCORING LEADER (ACC): Demetrius Jackson, 20.3 ppg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Charles Mitchell, 11.3 rpg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Charles Mitchell, 9.7 rpg
NOTRE DAME REBOUNDING LEADER: Zach Auguste, 9.5 rpg
NOTRE DAME REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Zach Auguste, Bonzie Colson, 6.0 rpg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Josh Heath, 4.1 apg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 4.0 apg
NOTRE DAME ASSISTS LEADER: Demetrius Jackson, 5.3 apg
NOTRE DAME ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Demetrius Jackson, 7.0 apg
GEORGIA TECH PPG/ACC: 77.5/76.7 ppg
OPP. 2014-15 PPG/ACC: 70.8/79.7 ppg
NOTRE DAME PPG/ACC: 78.6/76.7
OPP. PPG/ACC: 68.6/72.3
NOTRE DAME Player To Watch – Demetrius Jackson: The 6-1, 201-pound junior point is a sight to see, if you can keep up with him, that is. The blazer of a point does it at both ends of the floor. Notre Dame’s leading scorer is fifth in the conference (17.1 ppg), 10th in field goal percentage (50.5), third in assists (5.3), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7), and fourth in minutes per game (35.7). He’s scored in double figures in 13 of N.D.’s 15 games, is a threat from three (42.6 percent, second on the team), and, naturally, leads the team in assists. Defensively, he paces the team in steals and is fourth in blocks. In two games against the Jackets last season he averaged 10.0 points — although only shooting 36.4 percent (8-for-22) and 25 percent from three (2-for-8) — but was a master distributor (eight assists vs. three turnovers), and a thorn in the side on defense, with four steals and a blocked shot. He’s coming off his biggest game of the season, going for a game-high 26 points (his ACC-high and one off his career-high) on 9-for-18 shooting, 5-for-10 from three (the five three-pointers were a career-high), and 3-for-4 from the line with six assists and no turnovers, a steal and a block.