THE FLATS - Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team (21-16 in 2016-17) and crosstown foe Georgia State (20-13 in 2016-17) are meeting Saturday at 12 noon at McCamish Pavilion in an exhibition game to raise money to aid in ongoing hurricane relief efforts. Tickets are $20 for general admission seating, $5 for students and available at the door.
The Yellow Jackets, entering their second season under head coach Josh Pastner, went 8-10 and finished 11th in the ACC last season, then reached the championship game of the NIT.
Georgia State, entering its sixth season under head coach Ron Hunter, went 12-6 in the Sun Belt Conference a year ago and reached the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, where the Panthers lost in the first round.
Saturday’s game is the first of two exhibition games for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets host NAIA member Faulkner Thursday, Nov. 2, at McCamish Pavilion, before traveling to Shanghai, China to open the regular season Nov. 10 against UCLA. The Tech-Georgia State game will not be televised, streamed online, nor broadcast on the Tech radio network.
MORE ABOUT SATURDAY’S GAME
• Georgia Tech and Georgia State arranged Saturday’s game after the NCAA began allowing waivers to schools wishing to stage an additional exhibition game to raise money to aid ongoing hurricane relief efforts. Normally, schools are allowed to play two preseason games, either before the public against a non-Division I program or a closed scrimmage against a Division I team, or one of each.
• Tech and GSU have not played since December of 2008 in a regular season game. The Yellow Jackets won that game, 84-64, and have won 17 of 19 games in an all-time series that dates back to 1970.
• Georgia Tech has faced Panthers’ head coach Ron Hunter once before, when he was the head coach at IUPUI in Indianapolis. The Jaguars came to Atlanta and defeated the Yellow Jackets, 98-92, on Dec. 29, 2001 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
TECH’S “MODERN MIRACLE”
Georgia Tech played in its first National Invitation Tournament championship game in 46 years in 2017, capping an inaugural season under head coach Josh Pastner that defied all pre-season projections and expectations. Tech won 21 games and an 8-10 ACC record for the second straight year after being picked to finish 14th in the conference.
Along the way, the Yellow Jackets knocked off No. 9 North Carolina, the eventual national champion, No. 6 Florida State and No. 14 Notre Dame, as well as Boston College, Clemson, Pittsburgh and Syracuse in conference play.
Tech defeated Indiana and Belmont at home in the first two rounds of the NIT, completing a school-record 17-win home schedule, then went on the road to defeat Ole Miss to reach its first NIT final four since 1971. Once there, the Yellow Jackets won their semifinal game over CSU Bakersfield before losing in the championship game to TCU.
The Yellow Jackets return their top three scorers – sophomore guard Josh Okogie, senior center Ben Lammers and senior guard Tadric Jackson – from that team. Lammers, who ranked No. 3 in the nation in blocked shots and No. 4 in the ACC in rebounding, earned second-team All-ACC honors and was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Okogie, who accumulated the third-most points of any Tech freshman in program history, was named to the ACC All-Freshman team.
YEAR 2 OF REBUILD FOR TECH BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech begins its 103rd season of basketball in 2017-18 under second-year head coach Josh Pastner, the 14th head coach in program history.
Pastner, 40, compiled a 167-73 record over seven seasons as the head coach at Memphis, where the Tigers earned bids to the NCAA Tournament four times. He was tied for the 10th most wins for a head coach in his first seven seasons in Division I basketball history, and was the second winningest active coach under the age of 40 in NCAA Division I.
Despite his young age, Pastner has been involved in basketball at the Division I level for 20 years, as a player and an assistant coach at Arizona, and as an assistant coach and the head coach at Memphis. He has been a part of teams that have won 490 games, played in 17 NCAA Tournaments and 18 total post-season events. Teams he has been involved with have won 12 conference tournament or regular-season championships, advanced to seven Sweet Sixteens, five Elite Eights, two Final Fours and two NCAA championship games.
THE STARTING LINEUP
• Lammers is one of 20 Division I players named to the preseason watch list for the Kareen Abdul Jabbar Award, given annually to the nation’s top center.
• Blue Ribbon Basketball Yearbook has projected Georgia Tech to finish ninth in the 15-team ACC, and tabbed Ben Lammers to its All-ACC team.
• Despite the fact that Georgia Tech lost six seniors from the 2016-17 squad, its top three scorers and two of its top three rebounders from that team - Josh Okogie (16.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Ben Lammers (14.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg) and Tadric Jackson (12.1 ppg) - return for Pastner’s second season on The Flats. Five players who averaged 10 or more minutes per game return for 2017-18.
• Georgia Tech is the only ACC team that has three returning players who averaged 12 points or more per game in 2016-17.
• This year’s Georgia Tech team has only two seniors - second-team All-ACC center Ben Lammers and guard Tadric Jackson, who finished second in the ACC Sixth-Man Award voting - and 12 scholarship players altogether. The other holdovers include ACC All-freshman guard Josh Okogie, 6-4 sophomore point guard Justin Moore, 6-9 junior forward Abdoulaye Gueye and 6-10 sophomore center Sylvester Ogbonda.
• The Yellow Jackets welcome four freshmen and two transfers, and turned over their entire walk-on group, meaning there are 10 new faces on the 16-man roster. Guard Brandon Alston, a graduate transfer from Lehigh University, has two years of eligibility remaining and is eligible to play immediately. Guard Shembari Phillips, a transfer from Tennessee, also has two years of eligibility remaining but must sit out this season.
• The freshman group includes 6-foot point guard Jose Alvarado from Brooklyn, N.Y., 6-5 guard Curtis Haywood II from Oklahoma City, Okla., 6-9 forward Evan Cole of Cumming, Ga., and 6-9 forward Moses Wright of Raleigh, N.Y.
• The Jackets have three scholarships to give for the 2018 recruiting class.
• Reflecting growing interest in Georgia Tech’s program in Year 2 under Josh Pastner, 15 of the Yellow Jackets’ 31 regular-season games will be televised on an ESPN network, including five of the team’s non-conference games. Three other non-conference games will be aired either on the ACC Network or the ACC’s Regional Sports (Cable) Network. Every ACC game will be televised.
• Twenty-seven of Georgia Tech’s 31 regular-season games will be broadcast on linear broadcast television, a program record, including all 18 Atlantic Coast Conference games. Fifteen of those 27 televised games will air on one of the ESPN networks. The four remaining games will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra, available on the ESPN app.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its second 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.