THE FLATS - Georgia Tech opens its 2017-18 home schedule Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. when Bethune-Cookman visits McCamish Pavilion. After an eight-day break following its trip to China, the Yellow Jackets play their next six games at home.
The Yellow Jackets enter their second season under head coach Josh Pastner, the 2017 ACC Coach of the year, after going 21-16 overall, finishing 8-10 (11th) in the ACC and reaching the championship game of the NIT last season. Tech dropped a close, 63-60 decision to No. 21 UCLA in its regular-season opener in Shanghai, China.
Bethune-Cookman (1-2), in its first season with head coach Ryan Ridder, went 10-22 last season and finished 10th in the 13-team Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference with a 6-10 mark. The Wildcats opener their 2017-18 season with a home win over Johnson (Fla.) University, and have dropped their last two games at UT-Rio Grande Valley (92-74) and North Texas (90-78).
Sunday’s game will be streamed live on the ACC Network Extra, available through the ESPN app. Radio coverage is provided by the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network and can be heard in Atlanta on flagship station 680 the Fan (680 AM/93.7 FM).
THE STARTING LINEUP
• Bethune-Cookman begins a stretch of three games in six days this week for Georgia Tech, who also entertain UT-Rio Grande Valley Wednesday night and North Texas on Friday afternoon. Those games, plus the Dec. 1 game against Grambling State, constitute a multi-team event called the Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase, which counts as one game against the NCAA’s regular season limit of 31 games.
• Georgia Tech does not travel again until Dec. 6, when it visits Wofford to complete a three-game contract with the Terriers.
• Beginning with UCLA, ranked No. 21 in the preseason Associated Press poll and No. 18 by the coaches, Georgia Tech faces a schedule that includes eight games against teams ranked in the top 25 of the preseason polls. That includes Northwestern (19/20) in the non-conference slate, as well as Duke (1/1), defending national champion North Carolina (9/9), Miami (13/12), Notre Dame (14/14) and Louisville (16/16). Of that group, the Jackets face only Notre Dame twice.
• Head coach Josh Pastner begins the 2017-18 season needing 12 wins to reach 200 for his head coaching career. In nine-plus seasons, Pastner has a record of 188-90.
• Sports Illustrated rates Georgia Tech’s defense No. 6 in its pre-season projection of the top 50 defenses in Division I.
• Lammers is on the preseason watch lists for the John R. Wooden Award (national player of the year) and the Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award.
• Lammers is also 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.
SERIES VS. BETHUNE-COOKMAN
• Georgia Tech won its only prior meeting against Bethune-Cookman, by a 73-46 score on Dec. 31, 2005 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Current NBA veteran Anthony Morrow, then a Tech sophomore, scored a game-high 20 points.
• Sunday is the first of three games the Yellow Jackets will play against members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, including Florida A&M on Dec. 17 and Coppin State on Dec. 27. Tech is 30-0 all-time against members of the MEAC.
• Josh Pastner is 2-0 as a head coach against members of the MEAC, including last year’s 59-52 victory over North Carolina A&T.
• Georgia Tech started two freshmen in a season opener – point guard Jose Alvarado and forward Moses Wright – for the second straight year. Point guard Justin Moore and off-guard Josh Okogie were in the Jackets’ starting five for last year’s opener against Tennessee Tech.
• Three of Tech’s four freshmen and graduate transfer Brandon Alston started the game. Tech’s four freshmen and Alston combined to play 105 of the available 200 minutes.
• Tech held UCLA, which had scored 111 points in its exhibition game and ranked No. 2 in the nation a year ago at 89.8 points per game, to 63 points, 28 in the second half. The Bruins, who led the nation in field goal accuracy last year at 52.2 percent, shot 40.7 percent from the floor in the game. The Yellow Jackets were the nation’s sixth-best defensive team a year ago based on Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency ranking.
• Tech had 12 assists to 11 turnovers in the game. The Jackets had more assists than turnovers 21 times last season and went 16-5 in those games.
• Tech capitalized off UCLA miscues, turning 14 turnovers into 18 points.
• Both teams were tested in half-court execution and defense as two total fastbreak points were scored (by Georgia Tech)
• After going nearly seven minutes without a basket, Georgia Tech held UCLA to zero field goals over the final three minutes to close the game.
• Ben Lammers scored a game-high 24 points against UCLA, missing by one point his career high of 25 against Clemson last Feb. 1. The 6-10 senior scored 18 of his points in the first half, hitting all eight of his shots from the floor. He finished 11-of-18. It was his 32nd double-figure scoring game since the beginning of last season.
• Lammers, one of 20 centers on the preseason watch list for the Kareem Abdul Jabbar Award, also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds, posting his 17th double-double since the beginning of last season. It was his 18th career game with 10 or more boards.
• Lammers played 38 minutes, continuing his trend from last season, when he averaged 35.2 minutes per game (36.6 in ACC games) and played 40 minutes five times.
• In his college debut, point guard Jose Alvarado scored 12 points with seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and no turnovers in 28 minutes. He went 4-for-8 from the floor, 2-for-5 from three-point range, including a three with 19.9 seconds left that brought the Jackets within 62-60.
• Alvarado and Justin Moore combined for six assists and no turnovers in 51 minutes.
• Junior forward Abdoulaye Gueye, despite foul trouble, blocked a career-best four shots and grabbed six rebounds in 32 minutes (one off his career high).
• Junior guard Brandon Alston, a graduate transfer from Lehigh, started and was Tech’s third player in double figures with 10 points. He went 6-for-8 from the foul line. It was his 15th career double-digit scoring game.
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.