Georgia Tech Basketball Hosts Syracuse
Yellow Jackets and Orange tip at 6:30 p.m. Sunday [ESPNU] at sold-out McCamish Pavilion
THE FLATS - Georgia Tech returns home to play two games in three days, first hosting Syracuse in a nationally-televised Atlantic Coast Conference game at 6:30 p.m. Sunday night at McCamish Pavilion.
Tech (15-11, 6-7 ACC), which has defied pre-season projections in its first season under head coach Josh Pastner, has dropped three of its last four ACC games, including a 70-61 decision Wednesday night at Miami. The Yellow Jackets, 13-3 at home this season, including three wins over top-15 teams, entered this weekend's games in 10th place in the ACC standings.
Syracuse (16-11, 8-6 ACC) has lost its last two games, at Pittsburgh Saturday and at home to Louisville in overtime Monday, after winning five straight. The Orange, 2-6 on the road this season, are in seventh place in the ACC.
Sunday's game will be nationally televised 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. 81, XM ch. 81).
THE STARTING LINEUP
Sunday's game with Syracuse is sold out, the third Georgia Tech home game to sell out this season (Georgia, Notre Dame). It is the first time since the Yellow Jackets' opening season in McCamish Pavilion that as many as three games have sold out.
Tech's legendary "Lethal Weapon 3" group of Kenny Anderson, Brian Oliver and Dennis Scott will be honored at Sunday's game. All three will be in attendance, signing autographs before the game. The first 2,000 fans through the doors will receive a free poster commemorating the famed trio. Anderson, Oliver and Scott led the Yellow Jackets to their first Final Four and an ACC Championship in 1990.
Tech has a 13-3 record at home this season, making this the 14th Yellow Jacket team to win 13 or more home games in one season. Only five of those teams won 14 or more (14-0 in 1962-63, 14-2 in 1994-95, 16-1 in 2006-07, 14-2 in 2009-10 and 14-5 in 2015-16). The Jackets have three more home games left.
Tech has the 10th most efficient defense in the country according to KenPom.com, giving up 91.4 points per 100 possessions. The Yellow Jackets rank No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (40.7 pct.) vs. ACC teams, No. 3 vs. all teams (39.6 pct.), and ranks third in scoring defense (68.9 ppg). Nationally, Tech ranks 22nd in field goal percentage defense and 56th in scoring defense against all opponents.
Ben Lammers' +11.1 per game scoring average increase over the 2015-16 season is the best in the ACC, No. 7 nationally. But Tadric Jackson (+6.4) and Quinton Stephens (+5.0) and also have posted significant increases over last season. Josh Heath (+2.9) has more than doubled his 2015-16 average.
Three keys for Tech - The Jackets are 14-1 this season when they shoot a better percentage from the floor than their opponent, are 11-0 when scoring 70 points and 13-1 when attempting more free throws than the opponent.
Georgia Tech is 4-3 against teams in the top 25 of CBSSports.com's RPI rankings as of Friday.
In the first half of its ACC schedule, Georgia Tech faced, in order, teams ranked No. 9, 8, 9, 16, 6 and 14. The Jackets have one remaining opponent currently ranked in the top 25 (Notre Dame again).
Georgia Tech has defeated three top-25 teams this season (No. 9 North Carolina, No. 6 Clemson, No. 14 Notre Dame), the most in one season for the program since the Yellow Jackets went 4-3 vs. top-25 teams in 2003-04. Tech has beaten as many as three top-25 teams in one season six times prior to this season.
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.
COACH PASTNER AUDIO FROM FRIDAY
SERIES NOTES VS. SYRACUSE
This is the first season that Georgia Tech and Syracuse are playing home-and-away since the Orange joined the ACC. The teams have played only once each of the last three seasons. The teams meet again March 4 at the Carrie Dome in the teams' regular-season finale.
Syracuse has won the last two meetings, 60-57 last year at the Carrier Dome, and 46-45 in January of 2015 at McCamish Pavilion, taking a 4-3 lead in the overall series.
Tech won the first meeting between the two teams as members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, 67-62, on March 4, 2014, with the Orange ranked No. 7 in the nation.
Three of the first four games in the series were played on neutral courts, the first of which had the highest stakes, a second-round NCAA Tournament game at the Omni in Atlanta in 1985. The Orange were led at the time by guard Pearl Washington.
The most recent meeting between the two teams before Syracuse joined the ACC occurred in the championship game of the Legends Classic in Atlantic City in 2010, and 9th-ranked Syracuse survived a 32-point effort by Brian Oliver (who later transferred to Seton Hall) to win, 80-76.
Tech's only other trip to the Carrier Dome came in December of 2003, when the Orange, led by freshmen Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara, routed the Jackets and Chris Bosh, 92-65, and eventually won the national championship.
Syracuse had never played on Tech's campus until the 2014-15 season, but the Yellow Jackets did host the 13th-ranked Orange in a Delta Air Lines Classic for Kids game at Philips Arena in 2001. Jim Boeheim missed the game due to prostate surgery and the Yellow Jackets won by 16.
PASTNER ON TECH'S PERFORMANCE AT MIAMI
"We got our butts kicked on the glass, got our butts kicked at the free throw line. Our margin for error is zero. If we're not perfect or darn near perfection, it's hard for us."
Georgia Tech started Josh Heath, Corey Heyward, Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Quinton Stephens for the seventh game in a row and for the eighth time this season. Three Yellow Jackets -- Lammers, Okogie and Stephens -- have started every game this season.
Tech played its third straight game without backup forward Abdoulaye Gueye (fractured wrist).
Tech trailed at the half (38-32) for the second straight game and for the 11th time this season. The Yellow Jackets are 2-9 this season when trailing at the half..
Tech had a 28-22 advantage on points in the paint, the second straight game the Yellow Jackets have come out on top in that category.
Tech did not reach its magic number for points (70), and fell to 3-11 this season when it scores fewer than 70.
Tech shot 48.1 percent from the floor, its highest field goal percentage in a loss this season.
Miami shot 55.3 percent from the floor on only 38 field goal attempts, just the second opponent to shoot 50 percent or better against Tech this season (Duke 55.7 pct.). The Yellow came into the Miami game allowing its ACC opponents 39.6 percent (1st in the conference) and 39.9 percent overall (2nd in the conference).
Tech attempted just three free throws in the game, its fewest of the season. The Jackets had not attempted as few as three free throws since going 3-for-3 at Kentucky on Jan. 15, 2000. Tech also attempted three (made two) in a Jan. 14, 1989 game at NC State. Miami went to the line 27 times (made 22), most by a Tech opponent this season.
Tech also set season lows for rebounds (outrebounded 31-17) and offensive rebounds (2). Miami held a 6-0 edge in second-chance points.
Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech had 17 assists on 25 made field goals (68 pct.) vs. Miami - 60 percent goal accomplished. Tech is at 63.6 percent for the season, which ranks 10th in the nation, and 67.2 percent in ACC games.
Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents' attempts): Tech made 2 of 3 free throws to Miami's 22 of 27 (goal of making more than opponent tries not accomplished). The Yellow Jackets maintain a 72.0-percent clip from the foul line in ACC games, 68.9 percent in all games.
Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech's guards combined for four of Tech's 15 defensive rebounds. Miami's guards grabbed 15 of its 26 defensive rebounds.
Josh Okogie scored 18 points at miami, his 21st double-digit game out of 26 games overall this season and his 12th in 13 ACC games. He had 10 of his points by halftime. He went 7-for-11 from the floor and hit a season-high four threes in five attempts.
Ben Lammers had 11 points by halftime and finished with 15, his 23rd double-digit scoring game in 26 this season. He went 6-for-12 from the floor with three assists.
Lammers blocked four more shots to exceed his average coming into the game of 3.24, which ranks No. 2 nationally and leads the ACC.
Lammers played the full 40 minutes for the second time this season (also Notre Dame), becoming the first Tech player to do that twice in one season since Matt Harpring did it three times during the 1996-97 season (Quinton Stephens has played one 40-minute game and one 40-minus game, meaning he sat for less than 30 seconds, this season).
Lammers, who tried the first three-point field goal of his career Feb. 1 at Clemson (missed), made his first one against Miami, banking in his attempt as the shot clock horn sounded.
Josh Heath dished nine more assists (with just one turnover in 38 minutes) and is averaging 5.23 in ACC games (fifth-best in the ACC).
Corey Heyward, who started his seventh straight game, played 20 more turnover-free minutes against Miami. In his seven starts, he has committed just two turnovers in 154 minutes. He has played 16 turnover-free games this season.
Since notching his fifth double-double of the season (14 points, 11 rebounds at Wake Forest), Quinton Stephens has scored a total of 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in his last three games. He played only five minutes against Boston College due to a sprained ankle and did not score a point or take a rebound.
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.
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