Georgia Tech Basketball Hosts Sam Houston State in First Meeting

Corey Heyward is averaging 25.7 minutes per game, three more than his total of last season.
Nov. 21, 2016

THE FLATS - Georgia Tech continues its season-opening five-game homestand Tuesday night when the Yellow Jackets entertain Sam Houston State from the Southland Conference at 7:30 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion.

Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Coach Pastner audio | Watch live on ACC Network Extra

Tech (2-1) began its first season under head coach Josh Pastner with a pair of wins over Tennessee Tech (70-55) and Southern (77-62) before taking a 67-61 loss to Ohio Friday night. Pastner inherited seven letterwinners, but none of its top four scorers, from a team that went 21-15 last season and advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament.

Sam Houston State (3-1) has won its last two games, 91-83 at home over Southern and 78-71 at Tennessee Tech, after dropping a 96-75 decision at Ohio to open the season. The Bearkats, who played in last year’s CollegeInsider.com Tournament, are picked to win the Southland Conference.

Tuesday’s game will not be televised, but will be streamed live online via the ACC Network Extra, accessible through the WatchESPN app. Radio coverage is provided by Tech’s flagship station, WCNN-AM (680 AM/93.7 FM).

STARTING FIVE

• Tuesday’s game is the fourth of five consecutive home games to begin Josh Pastner’s first season on The Flats. Tech doesn’t play away from home until Nov. 29, and plays 10 of its 14 non-conference games at home. The Yellow Jackets play three games away from home in November and December, all in a row (Nov. 29 at Penn State, Dec. 3 at Tennessee, Dec. 7 at VCU).

• Each of Tech’s first four opponents played in a post-season tournament at the end of the 2015-16 season - Tennessee Tech (Vegas 16), Southern (NCAA), Ohio (CBI) and Sam Houston State (CIT) - and averaged 20.5 wins last season.

• Tech’s first four games this season are part of an exempt multi-team event that the Yellow Jackets are hosting, similar to many of the early season tournaments, which will count as one game toward the NCAA regular-season limit. Sam Houston State began the season at Ohio, hosted Southern, and played at Tennessee Tech before coming to Atlanta. Tech is playing a program-record 31 regular-season games this season.

• According to ESPN.com’s John Gasaway, Tech is the least experienced team in Division I, returning only 25 percent of its possession-minutes from 2015-16. Gasaway measures experience by calculating a team’s “returning possession minutes,” the percentage of minutes that a player recorded last season, multiplied by the percentage of the team’s possessions that he used (as listed at kenpom.com).

• Tech lost 78 percent of its scoring and 67 percent of its minutes from last year’s team, which went 21-15 and reached the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament.

SERIES NOTES

• Tuesday night marks the first meeting between Georgia Tech and Sam Houston State.

• Tech’s only previous game against a current member of the Southland Conference was last year’s victory over Southeastern Louisiana. The Yellow Jackets have played several games against schools that were once members of the conference - Centenary, Louisiana-Lafayette and Troy, but not when the Jackets played them.

• Head coach Josh Pastner’s Memphis teams did not play Sam Houston State.

NOTABLE FROM OHIO GAME

Center Ben Lammers led the Yellow Jackets (2-1) with a career-high 22 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots in his third career start, but his counterpart Antonio Campbell scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Ohio University rallied with 3-pointers Friday night to win 67-61.

Georgia Tech led 32-27 at halftime and outrebounded the Bobcats 47-38, but the Yellow Jackets shot 27.8 in the second half (10 of 36) and made one 3-pointer.

• Tech led at the half for the third straight game, this time by five points (32-27), but lost for the first time after being outscored 40-29 after intermission

• Tech stretched its streak of holding opponents under 40 percent to all five halves this season when it held Ohio to 37.9 percent in the first half, but the Bobcats hit 43.8 percent in the second half and 41.0 percent for the game.

• Tech blocked eight more shots against Ohio and has 33 in three games (11.0 per game), which leads the ACC.

• Tech shot a season-low 33.3 percent from the floor, including 27.8 percent in the second half. The Yellow Jackets shot well over 50 percent in the opener and 49 percent against Southern.

• Tech turned the ball a season-low 11 times, five in the second half. In three games, Tech has just 12 second-half turnovers.

Ben Lammers reached double figures in scoring for the third time in three games with a career-best 22 points, and reached double digits before the under-4 media timeout in the first half. He had just two double-digit games in his career (10 points twice last year) before this season.

Tadric Jackson drained his first three three-point attempts and scored 17 points. It was the 13th double-digit scoring effort of his career and his second in a row after missing the season opener against Tennessee Tech. Jackson hit 6-of-13 from the floor in the game, and is 14-of-24 from the floor (4-of-5 on threes) in two games.

PASTNER POST-GAME

“Offensively, I didn’t like our pace, if we’re not going to be a three-point shooting team, which we haven’t been, we have to be able to get to the free throw line a lot more. That’s one of our goals, our made have to be more than the opponent’s attempted. If Ohio shoots 16 free throws then our made minimum has to be 16 or 17. We were attacking the paint on some areas, but we can’t hope that the referee is going to call a foul or hope that the ball is going to go in, that’s not the right strategy. We’ve got to go in there and be tough enough to finish around the hoop.”

TECH’S BLOCK PARTY

Ben Lammers, with an NCAA- and ACC-best 18 blocked shots in three ganes, has not been alone in his ability to defend the rim for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have swatted away 33 shots, an 11.0 average which leads the ACC and is No. 1 in the nation.

Quinton Stephens has blocked five shots, and freshman Josh Okogie, a 6-4 guard, has four.

Tech blocked a program-record 16 shots against Southern, eight against Tennessee Tech and nine against Ohio. It may signal a trend for the Yellow Jackets. Only one of Josh Pastner’s Memphis teams ranked lower than 21st nationally in blocked shots in seven years, and two of them ranked fourth (6.4 per game each).

THE LAMINATOR IS EVERYWHERE

Ben Lammers has come a long way from being a dependable third post player off the bench for Georgia Tech, his role last season as a sophomore.

After playing all 36 games last season in relief of seniors Charles Mitchell and Nick Jacobs, the 6-10 junior center has flourished in the Yellow Jackets’ four-out, one-in system, stringing together two straight double-doubles and three straight double-digit scoring efforts to start the season.

Lammers is currently the top shot-blocker in the nation, averaging 6.0 per game to lead the ACC. He also is Tech’s leading rebounder (11.3 per game, No. 2 in the ACC) and second-leading scorer (16.7 points per game).

The player who averaged less than 15 minutes per game last year has averaged 34.7 through Tech’s first three games, including a career-high 38 Friday night against Ohio.

He set two other career highs against the Bobcats, his team-high 22 points and his 19 field goal attempts. Lammers had never taken more than nine shots in a game previously. He has hit 59.5 percent of his shots in three games.

In two games, Lammers has made 72.2 percent of his field goal attempts, several with a newly perfected turnaround fadeaway jumper in the lane. He has averaged 11.5 rebounds as well.

Pastner on Lammers playing 38 minutes against Ohio - “I was going to ride with Ben, that’s the type of guy I am. I’m going to go with guys, and if I feel someone is going, then I’m just going to go with them, and if he’s earned my trust on that, then I’m going to let him play through mistakes. He’s just got to be tougher, and when he’s tired he’s got to be able to make plays even though he’s tired.”

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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