THE FLATS - Georgia Tech continues a stretch of six straight games at home Wednesday night when it hosts Texas-Rio Grande Valley at 7:30 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion.
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 evened its 2017-18 slate at 1-1 Sunday after a 65-62 victory over Bethune-Cookman.
Texas-Rio Grande Valley (3-2), in its second season with head coach Lew Hill, went 10-22 last season and finished seventh in the eight-team Western Athletic Conference with a 2-12 mark. The Vaqueros are playing the last of four straight road games against the Yellow Jackets, having won 75-63 at North Texas Monday night.
Wednesday'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
Texas-Rio Grande Valley is the second of three games in six days this week for Georgia Tech, who also entertain North Texas on Friday afternoon. Those games, plus Sunday's game against Bethune-Cookman and Tech's 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 began the 2017-18 season needing 12 wins to reach 200 for his head coaching career. In nine-plus seasons, Pastner has a record of 189-90.
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. TEXAS-RIO GRANDE VALLEY
Georgia Tech lost its only prior meeting against UTRGV, by an 80-73 score on Jan 28, 1975 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The institution was then known at Texas-Pan American.
UTRGV is Georgia Tech's second encounter with a team from the Western Athletic Conference in the span of four games. The Yellow Jackets downed CSU-Bakersfield in the semifinals of the NIT last March.
Tech led 35-29 at the half. The Yellow Jackets are 18-2 under Josh Pastner when leading at the half, 1-0 this season.
Tech improved to 5-17 when scoring fewer than 70 points under Josh Pastner. The Yellow Jackets were 17-0 last season when scoring 70 or more.
Tech held Bethune-Cookman to 62 points after the Wildcats had averaged 86.7 in their first three games, and to 36.4-percent shooting from the floor after they had average 44.7 in their first three games. The Jackets also limited UCLA to 63 points and 40.7 percent from the floor after the Bruins had ranked No. 2 nationally in points per game (89.8 ppg) and No. 1 in field goal percentage (52.2).
Tech improved to 16-5 under Josh Pastner when limiting its opponent to less than 40 percent shooting from the floor.
Tech went 24-for-31 from the free throw line, a big factor in the victory, getting 7-of-7 from Brandon Alston, 8-of-10 from Jose Alvarado and 6-of-8 from Abdoulaye Gueye, who helped seal the game with a pair coming with seven seconds left on the clock. The Jackets have hit 78.4 percent in two games (40-for-51).
The Jackets out-scored Bethune-Cookman 30-14 in the paint, but were out-scored 25-12 in points off turnovers and 12-5 in second chance points. Tech grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, but could only capitalize on those for five points.
Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on 14 of 20 made field goals (70 percent), exceeding its nightly goal of 60 percent. The Jackets have assisted on 65 percent of their made field goals in two games and finished last season at 62.7 percent (63.2 percent rate in ACC games).
Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents' attempts): Tech made 24-of-31 free throws to Bethune-Cookman's (goal of making more than opponent tries not accomplished).
Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech's guards combined for eight of Tech's 24 defensive rebounds, four of those by Jose Alvarado (eight in two games).
Junior guard Brandon Alston, a graduate transfer from Lehigh, started for the second straight game and has reached double figures in both. The 6-5 guard scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half Sunday. He went 7-for-7 from the free throw line and is 13-of-15 in two games. It was his 16th career double-digit scoring game.
Point guard Jose Alvarado reached double digits for the second straight game, scoring 18, mostly on the strength of hitting 8-of-10 from the free throw line. He added six rebounds and five assists and played 39 minutes.
Ben Lammers notched his second consecutive double-double of the season and his 19th since the beginning of last season with 19 points and 13 rebounds. He finished 8-of-12 from the floor and is 19-of-30 (63.3 percent) in two games. It was his 33rd double-figure scoring game and his 19th game of 10 or more rebounds.
Lammers also blocked eight shots, coming close to a triple-double for the second time in his career. Lammers had 13 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocks last year against Southern. The senior now has 185 blocks for his career, which ranks No. 5 in Tech history, and he needs 14 to catch Malcolm Mackey (199 from 1990-93) for fourth place.
Lammers played 38 minutes for the second straight game, 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. Jose Alvarado played 39 minutes, and Brandon Alston played 36. Lammers ranks 14th in the nation in most minutes played per game.
Lammers ranks third in the ACC in scoring, first in rebound average, second in blocked shots, first in offensive rebounds
Junior forward Abdoulaye Gueye's two free throws with seven seconds left gave him a career-best six points, all from the free throw line.
Freshman forward Moses Wright grabbed eight rebounds and had three assists and a blocked shot in 20 minutes off the bench.
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.