Starting Five: Men's Hoops vs. No. 18 Notre Dame
Preview of Saturday night’s match-up between the Yellow Jackets and the Fighting Irish
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Winners of two of three, Georgia Tech will try to make it two in a row and two in a row at home when they take on No. 19/18 Notre Dame in a Saturday night primetime matchup. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion.
The Yellow Jackets went into Tallahassee and stunned Florida State, 86-80, on Wednesday night at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. The win didn't come easy, as the Jackets nearly squandered a 17-point lead, but snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Seminoles. Marcus Georges-Hunt had a game-high 27 points, Adam Smith had 25 and Quinton Stephens added 11 and a team-leading seven rebounds for the Jackets, who shot 53.8 percent and 42.9 from three, nailing nine 3-pointers. Tech scored the first five points of the game and never trailed, closing the half on an 11-4 run to take a 43-34 lead into the locker room. A 9-2 run over 4:36 pushed the lead to 17 with 7:35 to play. The Jackets then held on, as FSU nibbled away at the lead, twice cutting the lead to three and once to within two, but Tech made 5-of-6 free throws to put the game away.
The Fighting Irish have been off for a week since a scintillating 77-66 upset over No. 13 Louisville at Purcell Pavilion, their third straight win and fourth in five. Demetrius Jackson scored a game-high 27, nailing 6-of-12 three pointers and going 7-for-7 from the line, Steve Vasturia added 20 and Zach Auguste chipped in 11 points and 12 rebounds. In a game that had three ties and 11 lead-changes, the Fighting Irish trailed 43-36 at the half and by as much as 11 with 15:43 to play. Louisville led 53-42 with 15:07 remaining, but Notre Dame went on a 23-9 run, taking a 65-63 lead on a V.J. Beacham three with 5:16 to play. They wouldn’t trail again. ND held Louisville to 28 percent shooting in the second half and outscored them 9-1 off turnovers in the second 20.
This game will be the 14th in this series which dates back to 1941 but really picked up steam with Notre Dame's entry into the ACC in 2014. Georgia Tech holds a 7-6 lead in the series and is 4-1 at home, but has lost four straight in the series and is 1-4 since becoming conference rivals, 1-1 at McCamish.
The game can be seen on the ESPN2, with Allen Bestwick and LaPhonso Ellis calling the action. The game also will be streamed on the WatchESPN app. 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. You also can hear Brandon and Randy via SiriusXM satellite radio (Channel 84 on both). Fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on RamblinWreck.com and the GT Gameday App.
And now, the Starting Five for tonight's game.
The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech got 18 points from Marcus Georges-Hunt and 15 from Adam Smith but had no answer for Zach Auguste in the second half, as Notre Dame took a 72-64 win on Jan. 13 at Purcell Pavilion. The Jackets trailed 30-27 at the end of a cold-shooting first half, where they shot 25 percent, the Irish 32 percent and the both teams 2-for-15 from three. In the second half, both teams heated up, with Auguste scoring 15 points and Demetrius Jackson 16. Nick Jacobs scored 10 straight points for Tech in a little over three minutes, but the Jackets never equalized despite having a pair of possessions shooting for the tie. ND, which led by as much as nine, put the game away at the line, hitting 19-of-22 free throws in the second half and 11 of 12 over the final two minutes. GT capitalized on turnovers, outscoring ND 7-0 in the second half, and held them to 2-for-15 from three for the game.
Mr. Smith Goes To The Line: Adam Smith followed up his 6-for-6 game at the line last Saturday at Clemson with an 8-for-11 game at Florida State. The 14 free throws and 17 attempts are both his highest output in back-to-back games. Smith's previous back-to-back bests were 12 and 14, as he went 2-for-4 on Feb. 8, 2012, while at UNC Wilmington, following his 10-for-10 against William & Mary on Feb. 4. The 17 FTAs Smith has taken over the last two games matches Smith's total number of attempts over his previous eight games, while the 14 makes take him back nine games.
Tech Trivia: The most dramatic game of the Georgia Tech-Notre Dame series came on Nov. 19, 2007, at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, a 70-69 Yellow Jackets win. Who hit the game-winning, three-point shot with two seconds remaining?
Q An A: Quinton Stephens is playing some of his best basketball heading toward the ACC Tournament. In his last two games, Stephens has scored 20 points on 53.3 percent shooting (8-for-15), 40 percent from three (4-for-10), with 13 rebounds and two blocked shots. On Wednesday at Florida State, Stephens, making his fourth start of the season and first in eight games, played a career-high 35 minutes, scoring 11 points, and pulling in a team-high seven rebounds. It was the biggest output for Q since Jan. 9 against Virginia at McCamish, where he scored 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting, 4-for-4 from three. His three three-point field goals vs. the Noles are the most since the Virginia game - he had two 3PT FGMs in the nine games in between. The 13 rebounds are more than he had in the previous four games, his eight field goals are the most in back-to-back games this season and the most since last Nov. 21 vs. IPFW (six FGMs) and 27th vs. Marquette (three). Q had blocks in back-to-back games for the first time since last Feb. 9 and 14 (at Virginia Tech and vs. Florida State).
Ridin' Time: Georgia Tech's 17-point lead against Florida State and 39:23 with the lead marked both the largest lead and longest time with the lead in ACC play this season. The previous largest lead was 15 against Virginia on Jan. 9 - matched at NC State on Jan. 27 - while the game where they had the longest lead had been 37:49 in Raleigh. The Seminoles never led, marking the first game in conference play that the Jackets never trailed. The shortest opponent lead had been on Jan. 16, when Virginia Tech led for eight seconds.
The Sixth Man: Adam Smith and Marcus Georges-Hunt have accounted for 61.3 percent of the teams points from the free throw line and taken 53.7 percent of the team's attempts. Georges-Hunt and Smith have combined to make 108 of the team's 176 free throws and taken 135 of Tech’s 251 foul shots...Georges-Hunt's 12 FTMs against FSU gave him four games with at least 11 points from the foul line. Prior to this season, Georges-Hunt's high from the line was nine points (Jan. 17, 2015 at PIttsburgh) and he had four games total with double-digit attempts...Tech Trivia Answer: Matt Causey hit his third three-pointer of the game to turnaround a 69-67 deficit and lift Tech to victory...Charles Mitchell's uncharacteristic four-point, three-rebound night in Tallahassee, moved him closer to his unique double-milestone, which he should definitely reach tonight. He now needs two points and five rebounds to reach 1,000 career points and 900 career rebounds...Saturday's game will be the third time the teams have met with one of them ranked. Georgia Tech has won both previous games, Jan. 30, 1969, when the Jackets upended No. NR/16 Notre Dame, 71-52, and Feb. 24, 1990, when the No. 8/6 Jackets topped the unranked Fighting Irish, 88-80 in overtime. Both games were played in South Bend. The teams have never met with both teams ranked.
GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 18.5 ppg
NOTRE DAME SCORING LEADER (ACC): Demetrius Jackson, 17.0 ppg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Charles Mitchell, 10.4 rpg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Charles Mitchell, 9.2 rpg
NOTRE DAME REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Zach Auguste, 9.8 rpg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Josh Heath, 3.3 apg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 3.5 apg
NOTRE DAME ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Demetrius Jackson, 5.2 apg
GEORGIA TECH PPG/ACC: 74.9/72.1 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 71.8/74.9 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 70.4/73.0
NOTRE DAME Player To Watch, Zach Auguste: The 6-10, 245-pound senior center has been a nemesis for Georgia Tech and the entire ACC for that matter. Auguste, a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award for the nation's top center, is averaging a double-double for the season (14.0 points and 10.1 rebounds), nearly a double-double in ACC play (13.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg), and has 14 such games this season. The conference's third-leading rebounder (10.1 rpg) and fifth-best shooter (53.8 percent) was unstoppable the last time Georgia Tech saw him, going for 24 points on 10 of 13 shooting, with nine rebounds and two blocks. The points and FGMs were both season-highs, with nine rebounds, and two blocks. He had six points on 3-for-6 shooting with two rebounds (one on each end) in his lone visit to McCamish Pavilion on Jan. 11, 2014. He didn't play in last year's game at McCamish as he was suspended.