THE FLATS - Georgia Tech continues a stretch of six straight games at home with a Black Friday special when it hosts North Texas at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion.
The Yellow Jackets (2-1) 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 has won two straight games at home, 65-62 over Bethune-Cookman and 78-68 over Texas-Rio Grande Valley, since its opening 63-60 loss to No. 21 UCLA in China.
North Texas (3-2), in its first season with head coach Grant McCasland, went 8-22 last season and finished last in Conference USA with a 2-16 mark. The Mean Green defeated Rogers State, 86-74, at home Wednesday night, after defeating Bethune-Cookman, 90-78, and losing to Texas-Rio Grande Valley, 75-63, both at home last weekend.
Friday's game will be televised regionally on the ACC's Regional Sports Network, which can be seen in Georgia on Fox Sports South. The telecast also 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), with national coverage on Sirius/XM radio (Ch. 93 on both platforms).
THE STARTING LINEUP
North Texas is the last of three games in six days this week for Georgia Tech. This game, plus this week's wins over Bethune-Cookman and Texas-Rio Grande Valley 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 needs 10 victories to reach 200 for his head coaching career. In nine-plus seasons, Pastner has a record of 190-90.
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. NORTH TEXAS
Georgia Tech won its only prior meeting against North Texas, by an 93-76 score on New Year's Eve 1997 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. That Tech team, led by All-America senior Matt Harpring and highly-regarded freshman Dion Glover, went on to reach the third round of the postseason NIT and finish 19-14.
North Texas is Tech's only game against a member of Conference USA this season and first since a Dec. 30, 2014 win over Charlotte. The Yellow Jackets are 24-10 all-time against the current membership of Conference USA.
Tech led 32-27 at the half against UTRGV and led by as many as 19 in the second half, its largest lead of the season. The Yellow Jackets are 18-2 under Josh Pastner when leading at the half, 1-0 this season.
Tech led 45-33 when Jose Alvarado went to the bench with his fourth foul at the 14:45 mark of the second half, and led 64-54 when he returned at the 5:13 mark, more than nine minutes later.
Tech scored a season-high 78 points, the team's highest point total since scoring 96 last year against Tusculum. The Yellow Jackets are 18-0 under Josh Pastner when scoring 70 or more points.
The Jackets shot 54.2 percent from the floor against UTRGV, their first game at 50 percent or better since Ole Miss in the quarterfinals of last year's NIT, and their highest percentage since hitting 56.3 percent last year against Tusculum.
Tech hit a season-high five three-point field goals (in 12 attempts) against UTRGV, matching the total from its first two games (in 23 attempts).
Tech held UTRGV to 38.5 percent shooting from the floor, the second straight game the Yellow Jackets have held an opponent under 40 percent. The Jackets improved to 17-5 under Josh Pastner when limiting an opponent under 40 percent. The Vaqueros started the game 1-for-13, and started the second half 0-for-4.
Tech held UTRGV to 68 points after the Vaqueros had averaged more than 82 points in their first four games, continuing a trend from last season that has held through the first three games this season. The Jackets 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). UCLA has averaged 90.8 points in their four games since Tech.
UTRGV hit just 2-of-18 shots from behind the three-point arc (11.1 pct.), the lowest yield for Tech in 40 games under Josh Pastner. The previous low was 17.3 percent (3-of-17) by North Carolina A&T last Dec. 28.
Tech went 21-for-34 from the free throw line against UTRGV, and have averaged 20.3 points per game from the charity stripe so far, compared to 13.6 per game last season. The Jackets have hit 71.8 percent from the stripe in three games.
The Jackets out-scored UTRGV 38-30 in the paint and 25-18 in points off turnovers and 12-5 in second-chance points. Tech gave up 17 offensive rebounds but only 15 points from them.
Tech was missing three of its six returning players from last season against UTRGV -- sophomore guard Josh Okogie and senior guard Tadric Jackson and, who were the Jackets' No. 1 and No. 3 scorers in 2016-17, and sophomore guard Justin Moore, due to NCAA violations. Jackson is eligible to return Friday against North Texas, while Okogie is eligible to return Dec. 3 against Tennessee. Okogie also is out due to a dislocation of his ring finger suffered in the Jackets' exhibition against Georgia State. Moore is serving a two-game suspension that includes the North Texas game.
Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on 18 of 26 made field goals (69.2 percent), exceeding its nightly goal of 60 percent. The Jackets have assisted on 66.7 percent of their made field goals in three games, after finishing last season at 62.7 percent (63.2 percent rate in ACC games).
Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents' attempts): Tech made 21-of-34 free throws to UTRGV's 16-of-20 (goal of making more than opponent tries accomplished). For the season, Tech has converted 61 free throws, while opponents have attempted 66.
Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech's guards combined for 13 of Tech's 23 defensive rebounds, six of those by Brandon Alston. Alston and Alvarado are each averaging five rebounds or better this season.
Senior center Ben Lammers leads all active ACC players in blocked shots (188), ranks third in double-doubles (18), fourth in rebounds (545) and 11th in points scored (737).
Junior forward Abdoulaye Gueye scored a career-high 13 points (3-8 FG, 5-8 FT, all career highs), topping his previous best of six in Tech's last game against Bethune-Cookman. His total included a pair of three-point field goals, the first of his career, and he recorded a career-best five assists and played a career-high 34 minutes. Against B-CU, his two free throws with seven seconds remaining helped seal the win and gave him a career-best six points, all from the free throw line.
Junior guard Brandon Alston, a graduate transfer from Lehigh, has started all three games and scored in double figures in each. The 6-5 guard came up big with a career-high 20 points against UTRGV, including 4-for-4 from the floor and 13 points in the second half. It was his 17th career double-digit scoring game. His previous career best was 18 three times at Lehigh.
Alston continues to get himself to the free throw line, hitting 6-of-8 against UTRGV, and is a team-high 19-of-23 (82.6 percent) for the season.
Lammers has scored in double figures in all three games this season, but tallied a season-low 14 points against UTRGV after sitting six minutes with an ankle injury. Still he grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots. It was his 34th double-figure scoring game since the beginning of the 2016-17 season. Lammers went 6-of-9 from the floor and had converted 64.1 percent of his field goals this season.
Lammers has 188 blocks in his career, which ranks No. 5 in Tech history and he needs 11 to catch Malcolm Mackey (199 from 1990-93) for fourth place
Freshman point guard Jose Alvarado dished a season-high six assists and scored eight points (4-6 FG) against UTRGV despite playing only 28 minutes due to second-half foul trouble. In three games, Alvarado has 14 assists against six turnovers.
Freshman guard Curtis Haywood II scored a career-best 11 points, his first double-figure game, going 3-for-8 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the line. He also had six assists and four steals in 37 minutes, by far his longest playing time of the season.
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.