Georgia Tech Basketball Visits Syracuse to Close Regular Season
Yellow Jackets and Orange tip off at 4 p.m. Saturday at Carrier Dome
THE FLATS - Georgia Tech closes out its regular-season Saturday afternoon with a regionally-televised Atlantic Coast Conference game against Syracuse at 4 p.m. at the Carrier Dome.
Tech (17-13, 8-9 ACC), which has defied pre-season projections in its first season under head coach Josh Pastner, has gone 3-5 in the back half of its ACC schedule, including a 61-52 win over Pittsburgh Tuesday night, after winning five of its first nine. The Yellow Jackets, 1-7 on the road in ACC play, enter the final weekend in 10th place in the ACC standings, a half-game ahead of Wake Forest.
Syracuse (17-13, 9-8 ACC) sits just one game ahead of the Yellow Jackets in ninth place, needing to win Saturday to hold that seed for next week’s ACC Tournament. Tech won the first meeting between the two teams on Feb. 19 in Atlanta, one of four losses in the last five games for the Orange. Syracuse had this week off after dropping an 88-68 game at Louisville last Saturday.
Saturday’s game will be televised on the ACC Network (Peachtree TV in Atlanta) and will be streamed live online on the ACC Network Extra. 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
• Georgia Tech can finish .500 in the ACC for the first time since 2006-07 if it can win at Syracuse Saturday. Only four Yellow Jacket teams have finished .500 in the ACC since Tech won its last ACC regular-season title in 1996.
• Tech and Syracuse have split four games since the Orange joined the ACC, each going 1-1 on the other’s home court, and the games have been decided by an average of 3.75 points.
• Tech has the fifth most efficient defense in the country according to KenPom.com, giving up 90.6 points per 100 possessions. The Yellow Jackets rank No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (40.0 pct.) vs. ACC teams, and ranks No. 3 in scoring defense (67.5 ppg). Nationally, Tech ranks 14th in field goal percentage defense and 46th in scoring defense against all opponents.
• Ben Lammers’ +11.2 per game scoring average increase over the 2015-16 season is the third-best in the ACC, behind John Collins of Wake Forest and Matt Farrell of Notre Dame. But Tadric Jackson (+7.0) and Quinton Stephens (+4.6) and also have posted significant increases over last season. Josh Heath (+3.3) has more than doubled his 2015-16 average.
• Three keys for Tech - The Jackets are 17-3 this season when they shoot a better percentage from the floor than their opponent, are 13-0 when scoring 70 points and 16-3 when attempting more free throws than the opponent.
• Georgia Tech is 4-4 against teams in the top 25 of CBSSports.com’s RPI rankings as of Thursday.
• Georgia Tech has defeated three AP top-25 teams this season (No. 9 North Carolina, No. 6 Florida State, 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 AP 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
TECH’S ACC TOURNAMENT SCENARIOS
• Georgia Tech would gain the No. 9 seed in the ACC Tournament with a win over Syracuse Saturday, and thus earn a bye out of Tuesday’s opening-round session. A victory would tie the Jackets and the Orange at 9-9, and Tech would win the tiebreaker by virtue of the regular-season sweep.
• The above is true regardless of the result of Saturday’s Wake Forest-Virginia Tech game. If Georgia Tech and Wake Forest both win Saturday, it would leave both teams in a three-way tie with Syracuse at 9-9. In that event, Tech gets the No. 9 seed because of its 2-1 record against the other two teams. Wake would get the No. 10 seed in that scenario (1-1 vs. the other two), and Syracuse would be the No. 11 seed (1-2 vs. the other two).
• A Tech loss Saturday would leave the Yellow Jackets as the 11th seed in the tournament, even if Wake Forest loses to Virginia Tech, leaving the two teams in a tie at 8-10. The Demon Deacons hold a tiebreaker over the Yellow Jackets by virtue of their Feb. 4 victory.
• The No. 9 seed opens the ACC Tournament against the No. 8 seed at noon next Wednesday. The No. 11 seed would open against the No. 14 seed (NC State or Pittsburgh) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
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.
• Tech won the first meeting between the two teams this season, 71-65, in Atlanta, evening the all-time series at 4-4.
• The teams have split four meetings since Syracuse joined the ACC, and the average margin of victory has been 3.75 points. The six-point Tech win earlier this season is the largest margin.
• The teams have split two meetings at the Carrier Dome as ACC brethren. Syracuse won, 60-57, during the 2014-15 season. Tech won there, 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 last 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 first trip to the Carrier Dome came in December of 2003, when the Orange, led by freshmen Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara, routed the Jackets with its freshman duo of Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack, 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.
• Georgia Tech has started Josh Heath, Corey Heyward, Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Quinton Stephens for the last 11 games and 12 times this season. Three Yellow Jackets – Lammers, Okogie and Stephens – have started every game this season.
• Tech has played its last seven games without backup forward Abdoulaye Gueye (fractured wrist).
• Tech wore gold uniforms at home for the second time this season, part of its Goldout promotion. The Jackets wore gold against Georgia in December.
• The Yellow Jackets finished their regular-season home schedule with a 15-4 record. They are one of two Tech teams to win 15 or more home games in one season, one win shy of the 16-1 mark set by the 2006-07 squad.
• Tech trailed at the half against Pittsburgh (28-25) for the sixth straight game and for the eighth straight ACC game (15th time this season). The Yellow Jackets have trailed at the half in four of their eight ACC victories. Tech is 4-11 this season when trailing at the half.
• Tech shot 46.2 percent from the floor to Pittsburgh’s 37.7 percent, and improved to 17-3 this season when shooting a higher percentage than its opponent.
• Tech held Pittsburgh 18 points under its 69.8 ppg scoring average vs. ACC teams this season, and 4.5 percentage points under its 42.2-percent floor rate for the season. The Yellow Jackets remain No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (40.0 pct.) vs. ACC foes, No. 3 in scoring defense (67.5 ppg).
• The 52 points allowed by Tech were a season low in an ACC game, and second only to the 50 allowed to Alcorn State on Dec. 18. They also were the fewest Tech has allowed since a 52-51 loss to Louisville during the 2014-15 season.
• Tech held ACC leading scorer Michael Young (20.2 ppg) to 14 points, and fourth-leading scorer Jamel Artis (19.2 ppg) to 12, a combined 28 points on 27 field goal attempts.
• Tech played excellent defense without blocking shots (only three), making steals (only five), or fouling (11). Tech has had fewer blocks in only three games this season, and fewer fouls in only one game.
• Tech shot 63.6 percent in the second half, making its last seven shots from the floor and 10 of its last 11.
• The Yellow Jackets outscored Pitt in the paint, 32-14, and has outscored its last two opponents by a combined 70-30 in the paint. The Jackets have outscored their last six straight foes in the paint.
• Tech failed to reach its magic number for points (70), and is 4-13 this season when scoring less than 70.
• Tech’s 61 points were its fewest in winning an ACC game since a 57-56 win over Wake Forest on Feb. 16, 2013. The Jackets have won eight ACC games this season while averaging 65.4 points per game, which ranks 14th in the ACC and is the sixth-lowest average in program history.
• Tech turned the ball over 11 times, one of the four lowest figures of the ACC season for the Yellow Jackets (three games with 11, one with 10).
• Tech allowed Pitt eight fast break points, and has outscored its last six opponents on fast breaks, 61-22.
• Tech out-rebounded Pitt, 33-31, its second game in a row on the plus side.
• Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech had 14 assists on 24 made field goals (58.3 pct.) vs. Pittsburgh – falling short of its 60 percent goal. It dropped Tech’s season rate to 62.0 percent, and 63.4 percent in ACC games.
• Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents’ attempts): Tech made 10-of-15 free throws, to Pittsburgh’s 5-of-10 (goal of making more than opponent tries not accomplished). The Yellow Jackets maintain a 70.3-percent clip from the foul line in ACC games, 68.4 percent in all games.
• Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech’s guards combined for 17 of Tech’s 28 defensive rebounds, 39 of 57 in Tech’s last two games.
• Ben Lammers scored 20 or more points for the fifth time in ACC play, four of those games have been victories. He reached double digits in scoring for the 13th time in 17 ACC games and for the 26th time in 30 games overall this season. He went 8-of-13 from the floor to improve his season rate to 51.7 percent.
• Lammers’ four rebounds were his second fewest of the season (had three at Miami).
• Lammers blocked only one shot, but it gave him 101 for the season, tying for the third-most in Tech history for a single season. Alvin Jones holds the top three positions (141 in 1997-98, 107 in 1998-99, 101 in 2000-01). Lammers is averaging 3.37 blocks per game, which ranks No. 2 nationally and leads the ACC, and 3.06 in ACC games.
• Josh Okogie scored 14 points (5-of-9 FG, 4-of-7 FT), his 25th double-digit game this year and his 16th in 17 ACC games. He is averaging a team-high 17.2 points per ACC game, 15.5 in all games. Only six times previously has a freshman led Tech in scoring.
• Tadric Jackson scored four points against Pitt, his fewest since tallying two Feb. 4 at Wake Forest. But he played 27 solid minutes with two assists and just one turnover.
• Quinton Stephens shook off a poor first half (five points, no rebounds) to finish with nine points, six rebounds and five assists.
• Four Yellow Jackets played 35 or more minutes against Pittsburgh. Ben Lammers, who is averaging 35 minutes per game, played 35 against Pittsburgh, his fewest in an ACC game since logging 26 at Wake Forest on Feb. 4, a game in which he sat for a long period with foul trouble. In Tech’s previous five games, he had played 197 out of a possible 200 minutes.
• Josh Heath had nine points, six rebounds and five assists, just the third time this season he has had a 5-5-5 game.
• Corey Heyward, who started his 11th straight game, played 10 more turnover-free minutes against Pitt. In his 11 starts, he has committed just two turnovers in 198 minutes. He has played 20 turnover-free games this season.
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.