Georgia Tech Basketball Hosts No. 14/12 Notre Dame in Sold-Out Contest
Yellow Jackets and Fighting Irish tip at noon Saturday [ESPNU] at sold-out McCamish Pavilion
THE FLATS - Georgia Tech tries to make it a perfect week against top-15 teams this week when the Yellow Jackets entertain No. 14/12 Notre Dame at noon Saturday at sold-outMcCamish Pavilion.
Tech (12-8, 4-4 ACC), in its first season under head coach Josh Pastner, earned its second victory over a top-10 team this season when it defeated No. 6 Florida State, 78-56, Wednesday night at home, snapping a two-game losing streak. The Yellow Jackets enter this weekend's games tied for seventh place in the ACC standings.
Notre Dame (17-4, 6-2 ACC) is tied for second place in the ACC following its 71-54 homecourt loss to Virginia Tuesday night. The Fighting Irish began their ACC schedule with five straight wins but have lost two of three, including a three-point defeat at Florida State.
Saturday's game will be aired nationally on ESPNU, and will be streamed live online on the WatchESPN app. Radio coverage is provided by Tech's flagship station, 680 the Fan (680 AM/93.7 FM), and is available via satellite radio (Sirius ch. 132, XM ch. 193).
STARTING FIVE (PLUS ONE)
In the first half of its ACC schedule, Georgia Tech has faced, in order, teams ranked No. 9, 8, 9, 16, 6 and 14. After Saturday's game against No. 14 Notre Dame, the Jackets have one remaining opponent currently ranked in the top 25 (Notre Dame again).
At 4-4, Tech has its best ACC record through eight games since the 2009-10 season, when the Yellow Jackets stood 5-3.
Three keys for Tech - The Jackets are 12-1 this season when they shoot a better percentage from the floor than their opponent, are 11-0 when scoring 70 points and 11-1 when attempting more free throws than the opponent.
Georgia Tech leads the ACC in field goal percentage defense (39.6 pct.) vs. ACC teams, and ranks third in scoring defense, this after already having faced six of the top seven teams in the ACC in field goal percentage and scoring average.
The Yellow Jackets rank No. 22 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency accoring to KenPom.com, having faced four of the nation's top 30 in that category (Notre Dame is ranked 13th). In NCAA rankings, Tech is No. 20 in field goal percentage defense and No. 60 in scoring defense.
Ben Lammers' +11.1 per game scoring average increase over the 2015-16 season is the second best in the ACC. But Quinton Stephens (+5.9) and Tadric Jackson (+5.4) also have posted impressive increases over last season. Josh Heath (+2.9) has more than doubled his 2015-16 average.
Georgia Tech holds an 8-6 lead in the all-time series with Notre Dame that began in the 1940-41 season. The teams split their regular-season meetings last season, Notre Dame winning, 72-64, in South Bend and Tech taking the rematch, 63-62, in Atlanta.
The win in Atlanta for Tech snapped a four-game losing streak in the series.
The win in South Bend last season was the largest margin of victory for either team in the six games the teams have played as ACC brethren. The average margin of victory has been 4.5 points.
The Yellow Jackets 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 ACC 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 2-5 in games played in South Bend, and 1-4 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.
Tech is 5-1 all-time against Notre Dame in Atlanta, three of those wins at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and one at McCamish Pavilion.
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.
PASTNER ON TECH'S IMPROVEMENT
"We'll continue to get better. I don't ever forget the first game, in the first exhibition game, we had to go to overtime to beat Shorter. We've come a long way, and we've gotten a lot better, and we got lucky to win that game versus Shorter, a Division II team. So we've come a long way and in year one of a major rebuild job, this is another great win for us for people to see what we're trying to the do and the vision for what we are trying to accomplish here in the long term."
Georgia Tech defeated Florida State at home for the first time in six tries. The Jackets' last defeated the Seminoles at home on Jan. 13, 2007 (at Alexander Memorial Coliseum).
Tech has beaten two top-10 teams this season -- No. 9 North Carolina and No. 6 Florida State -- the first time the Yellow Jackets have beaten multiple top-10 teams in the same season since 2004-05 (No. 5 Wake Forest in the regular season and No. 2 North Carolina in the ACC Tournament). It is the first time since 2003-04 that the Jackets have beaten multiple top-10 teams in the regular season (No. 1 Connecticut, No. 10 Wake Forest, No. 3 Duke). It is the 18th time in program history that Tech has defeated multiple top-10 teams in the same season. In the ACC, only Louisville (ranked No. 9 when they played Tech) has two wins over top-10 teams this season.
Tech started Josh Heath, Corey Heyward, Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Quinton Stephens for the second time this season. The Yellow Jackets began with that lineup at Tennessee on Dec. 3, with Heath getting the nod over Moore, who was ill and didn't make the trip. Heyward was in the midst of a seven-game stretch in which he started for the Jackets. Three Yellow Jackets -- Lammers, Okogie and Stephens -- have started every game this season.
The 22-point margin of victory was Tech's second-largest this season and largest against an ACC opponent since an 80-54 victory at Wake Forest on March 3, 2011. Every Tech ACC game this season has been decided by double digits except Virginia Tech (62-61).
Tech's last 20-point win over a top-10 team was an 89-69 victory over No. 1 North Carolina in 1994.
Tech led at the half for the third time this season against an ACC team, 13th time overall. Tech is 10-2 this season when leading at the half.
Tech held Florida State to 56 points, its lowest scoring output of the season by 11 points.
The 15 first-half points by Florida State were the second-fewest ever surrendered by Tech to an ACC opponent in one half. Wake Forest scored 13 in the second half of a game on Jan. 19, 2011 that the Yellow Jackets won at home, 74-39. FSU went more than eight minutes without a point and more than nine without a field goal.
FSU came in as the ACC's top field goal percentage team against the conference (49.8 percent) and the No. 2 scoring team (85.7 points per game), and was ranked 22nd nationally in offensive efficiency. Tech held the Seminoles to 28.2 percent from the floor (17.1 in the first half) and 56 points (15 in the first half).
Tech leads the ACC in field goal percentage defense against the league (now 39.6 percent) and has faced six of the top seven teams in field goal percentage in its eight conference games.
Tech reached its magic number for points (70) and remained unbeaten (11-0) when reaching that number offensively. The Jackets also improved to 12-1 when shooting a better percentage from the floor than its opponent (42.6 to 28.2 percent vs. FSU).
Tech held Florida State to 6-for-25 (24.0 percent) from three-point range; the Seminoles came in No. 5 in the ACC in three-point shooting (37.1 pct.) against the conference. The Yellow Jackets rank third in three-point percentage defense against the ACC (33.0 pct.) and have limited their last three foes to 23.6 percent (17-for-72).
Tech out-rebounded the taller and bigger Seminoles, 53-39, its largest winning margin of the season though only its third ACC game winning the boards.
Ten out of Tech's last 11 opponents have shot 40.6 percent from the floor or lower. Tech has held its ACC foes to 39.6 percent, and that includes a 55.7-percent game by Duke.
Tech has shot 45.7 percent (126-for-276) from the floor in its last five games, 43.2 percent from three-point range (29-for-67).
Tech blocked six shots, near the Yellow Jackets ACC-leading average of 6.2 blocks per ACC game, 6.5 in all games this season (third in the nation).
Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on 20 of 26 made field goals (76.9 pct.) vs. FSU - 60 percent goal accomplished. Tech is at 62.6 percent for the season, 67.9 percent in ACC games. Tech has 90 assists on 126 field goals (71.4 pct.) in its last five games.
Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents' attempts): Tech made 21 of 31 free throws to FSU's 10 of 16 (goal of making more than opponent tries accomplished). The Yellow Jackets still maintain a 73.9-percent clip from the foul line in ACC games.
Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech's guards combined for 25 of Tech's 39 defensive rebounds.
Josh Okogie scored 35 points and reached double figures for the 16th time this season. The Tech freshman went 10-for-17 from the floor and 14-for-17 from the line, a season high for free throws made. He also had five assists and a career-high 14 rebounds for his first career-double-double.
Okogie is Tech's top scorer in ACC games at 19.1 points, No. 2 among ACC freshmen behind NC State's Dennis Smith. He has shot 49 percent from the floor, 78.3 percent from the foul line and is 8-of-18 from three-point range against conference foes.
Corey Heyward made his eighth start of the season and first since Dec. 20 vs. Georgia. It was his 26th career start. He scored five points with a career-high six rebounds and two assists with no turnovers in 22 minutes.
Ben Lammers returned to double digits for the 18th time this season. He scored 18 points on 8-of-18 shooting, 10 of his points came in the first half.
Lammers posted his 10th double-double of the season, adding 11 rebounds, and also had four assists and three blocked shots in 32 minutes.
Quinton Stephens reached double figures for the 13th time this season with 13 points. Tech is 17-3 since the beginning of the 2015-16 season when he reaches double figures.
Over his last five games, Stephens is averaging 15.0 points, 9.0 rebounds. He has hit 25-of-59 from the floor, 16-for-36 from three-point range, 9-for-12 from the free throw line.
Stephens played "just" 37 minutes against Florida State. He is averaging a team-high 36.4 minutes per ACC game, including a full 40-minute game at Virginia Tech and sitting for less than 30 seconds at NC State.
Josh Heath went scoreless against FSU but had six assists and five rebounds with just one turnover in 31 minutes. The 6-2 senior has averaged 4.75 assists and has a 2.24-1 assist-turnover ratio in ACC games.
Tadric Jackson's six rebounds were a season high and his most since grabbing seven against North Carolina late his freshman year.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN'S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech's men's basketball team is in its first year under head coach Josh Pastner. Tech has 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) and Instagram.
For more information on Tech basketball, visit here.