THE FLATS - Georgia Tech continues a stretch of six straight games at home Tuesday night in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge series with a 7 p.m. contest against Northwestern at McCamish Pavilion.
The Yellow Jackets are in 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 its last three games against Bethune-Cookman (65-62), Texas-Rio Grande Valley (78-68) and North Texas (63-49) since its opening 63-60 loss to No. 21 UCLA in China.
Northwestern (4-2), which made the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017, went 24-12 and finished sixth in the Big Ten at 10-8, is in its fifth season under head coach Chris Collins. Their trip to Atlanta represents the first true road game of the season for the Wildcats, who defeated LaSalle (82-74) and lost to Texas Tech (85-49) in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic the weekend before Thanksgiving, then routed Sacred Heart at home, 81-50, last Friday.
Tuesday’s game will be televised nationally ESPN2 and streamed live 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. 83 on both platforms).
THE STARTING LINEUP
• Georgia Tech is in the midst of a six-game homestand, having played three times last week and three times this week, with Florida A&M (Friday) and Tennessee (Sunday) to follow before the Yellow Jackets’ next road trip, Dec. 6 to Wofford, which will complete a three-game contract with the Terriers.
• Georgia Tech’s games against Bethune-Cookman, Texas-Rio Grande Valley, North Texas and this Friday’s 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.
• 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 included Northwestern (19/20), which has since fallen out of the top 25, 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 nine victories to reach 200 for his head coaching career. In nine-plus seasons, Pastner has a record of 191-90.
• Georgia Tech is giving out black, curly-haired wigs to Tech students attending Tuesday night’s game, while supplies last, as a tribute to Pastner and his distinctive head of hair.
COACH PASTNER MONDAY PRESS CONFERENCE AUDIO
Michael Isenhour TOY DRIVE CONTINUES
The Georgia Tech Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) continues its 17th-annual Michael Isenhour Toy Drive on Tuesday night when the Yellow Jackets host Northwestern at McCamish Pavilion.
Fans are asked to bring new, unwrapped toys for children of all ages to donate. Monetary donations are also accepted (patrons wishing to make a monetary donation are asked to please make checks payable to “Georgia Tech Athletic Association”). Georgia Tech student-athletes will be stationed at all McCamish Pavilion entrances to collect donations prior to the game.
For fans that wish to make a donation but are unable to attend either event, collection bins will be available in the Edge Athletic Center from Monday, Nov. 27 until Friday, Dec. 8 (donations can be made 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday).
Toys and monetary donations that are collected will be delivered to local children’s charities on Sunday, Dec. 10, with the Atlanta Children’s Shelter serving as the primary beneficiary.
The toy drive was founded in 2001 by Georgia Tech men’s basketball student-athlete Michael Isenhour, whose inspiration was to assist families impacted by 9/11. Isenhour, who was battling leukemia when he started the toy drive, lost his battle with the disease in 2002. SAAB renamed the toy drive in his honor in order to create an enduring legacy in memory of their fellow student-athlete.
Each year, the Michael Isenhour Toy Drive has produced record donations. This year’s goals are 2,500 toys and $10,000 in monetary donations.
SERIES VS. NORTHWESTERN
• This will be the fourth meeting between the Yellow Jackets and the Wildcats in the annual series, and the second one to take place in Atlanta. Tech won the most recent meeting by a 66-58 score in 2014 in Evanston, Ill., which was Chris Collins’ second year as the Wildcats’ head coach.
• Northwestern won the first two games in the series, first by a 91-71 score in 2010 in Evanston, and again by a 76-60 count in 2011 at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
• Georgia Tech is 22-37 all-time against the Big Ten, last meeting a member of the conference in March of 2017, a 75-63 win over Indiana in the opening round of the NIT. That record does not count the Yellow Jackets’ 36-40 mark against Maryland, which was previously a member of the Atlantic Coast conference.
• Tech’s Josh Pastner has never faced Northwestern as a head coach, and is 4-4 against Big Ten teams in his career.
• Tech assistant coach Tavaras Hardy graduated from Northwestern with a bachelor of arts degree in political science in 2002. He also was an assistant coach at Northwestern for seven seasons under Bill Carmody and was on the Wildcats’ bench for the first two meetings between Tech and Northwestern in 2010 and 2011.
• Tadric Jackson and Ben Lammers are the only two members of the current Tech team to have played in the Jackets’ last meeting with Northwestern. Then freshmen, both went scoreless in a combined seven minutes.
TECH IN THE ACC/BIG TEN CHALLENGE
Georgia Tech has a 6-10 mark in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge after dropping a 67-60 decision at Penn State in November of 2016.
• Tech and Penn State have met three times in the annual event, tied for the most of any opponent, with the Nittany Lions taking two of the three meetings. The Yellow Jackets won the first meeting, 77-73, in 2006.
• Northwestern was the first “three-peat” for Tech in the series. The Wildcats captured the first two meetings, in 2010 in Evanston and 2011 at Philips Arena.
• Illinois was the fourth “repeat” opponent for Georgia Tech in the Challenge, having beaten the Jackets 75-62 in 2012 in Champaign. The Yellow Jackets have played Michigan, Penn State and Northwestern twice each. It also was the second time Tech has faced the same opponent in back-to-back meetings. The Jackets played, and lost to, Northwestern in 2010 and 2011.
• Tech has played seven “home” games in the series and has a 4-3 record in those contests. Four of the games were played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, where Tech defeated Wisconsin (2001) and Michigan (2004) and went 1-1 against Penn State (2006, 2008). Two others were played at Philips Arena, an 80-77 loss to Michigan in the first Challenge game in 1999, and a 76-60 loss in 2011.
• The Yellow Jackets have a 2-7 mark in ACC/Big Ten Challenge games on the road. The Yellow Jackets’scored a 73-53 win at Ohio State in 2003, the year in which Tech reached the NCAA Championship game., and won at Northwestern in 2014. Tech also has visited Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan State, Indiana and Northwestern (twice).
• Nebraska and Purdue are the only Big Ten teams the Yellow Jackets have not faced in the annual series.
• The Yellow Jackets are 19-2 under Josh Pastner when leading at the half, 3-0 this season. Tech led 22-19 at the half against North Texas, the lowest scoring half for the Jackets this season, despite being outrebounded 19-13. Tech forced 10 turnovers and scored seven points from them.
• Tech ranks No. 25 nationally in scoring defense at 60.5 points per game, and No. 54 in field goal percentage defense (38.6 percent). The Jackets are No. 28 in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com.
• Tech has limited all four of its opponents significantly below their season scoring averages. The Jackets held North Texas, which averaged 85.6 points in its first five games, to just 49 points, the low yield for Tech in 41 games under head coach Josh Pastner. It continued a trend for the Jackets this season – 63 points to UCLA (90.8 ppg since), 62 points to Bethune-Cookman (86.7 ppg coming in), 68 points to Texas-Rio Grande Valley (82.0 ppg coming in).
• Tech has held its last three opponets under 40 percent from the floor. The Jackets held North Texas to 39.1 percent shooting from the floor (Mean Green hit 46.7 percent coming in), and improved to 18-5 under Josh Pastner when limiting an opponent under 40 percent.
• Tech ranks 15th nationally according to KenPom.com in lowest two-point field goal percentage yield (40 percent), and No. 6 in block percentage (19.3).
• Tech forced a season-high 19 turnovers against North Texas and scored 15 points from those, and committed only six turnovers, which was a low in 41 games under Josh Pastner. The Jackets rank 33rd nationally in turnover percentage according to KenPom.com.
• Tech has won two of its three games this season despite scoring less than 70 points (Bethune-Cookman, 65-62, and North Texas, 63-49), improving to 6-17 under Josh Pastner.
• The Jackets have hit 57.7 percent (30-of-52) of their field goal tries from the floor in the second half of their last two games. They shot 55.6 percent in the second half against North Texas to finish at 43.4 percent. Tech shot 60 percent after halftime against UTRGV to finish at 54.2 percent.
• Tech has hit 12 three-point field goals in 30 attempts in its last two games (7-for-18 vs. North Texas). The Yellow Jackets went 5-for-23 in their first two games.
• Tech went to the foul line a season-low 12 times against North Texas, but made 10 of them and improved to 73.2 percent for the season. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 17.8 points from the charity stripe this season, compared to 13.6 last season.
• Tech was missing two of its six returning players from last season against North Texas – sophomore guards Josh Okogie (Tech’s leading scorer last season at 16.1 ppg) and Justin Moore, due to NCAA violations. Jackson returned against North Texas, while Moore will be back against Northwestern. Okogie is eligible to return Dec. 3 against Tennessee, but also is out due to a dislocation of his ring finger suffered in the Jackets’ exhibition against Georgia State.
• Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on 16 of 23 made field goals (69.6 percent), exceeding its nightly goal of 60 percent. The Jackets have assisted on 67.4 percent of their made field goals in four games, ranking No. 7 in the nation according to KenPom.com, 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 10-12 free throws to North Texas’ 5-of-9 (goal of making more than opponent tries accomplished). For the season, Tech has converted 71 free throws, while opponents have attempted 75.
• Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech’s guards combined for 17 of Tech’s 22 defensive rebounds, seven of those by Jose Alvarado and four each from Haywood and Jackson.
• Freshman point guard Jose Alvarado has scored in double digits three times in four games (scored eight vs. UTRGV after foul trouble limited him to 28 minutes). He scored a career/season-high 19 points against North Texas. He hit 7-of-9 shots from the floor, 2-of-4 from three and 3-of-3 from the foul line. Alvarado is Tech’s No. 2 scorer through four games (14.3 ppg) and has converted 58.8 percent of his shots from the floor (20-of-34) and 13-of-16 from the free throw line.
• Alvarado matched his season-high by playing 39 minutes against North Texas, and is averaging 33.5 minutes per game.
• Alvarado also led Tech on the boards with seven rebounds against UNT, had three steals and four assists against one turnover. Alvarado has 18 assists against seven turnovers through four games, and is No. 2 on the team with eight steals.
• Freshman guard Curtis Haywood II notched his second straight double-digit game and another career/season high with 15 points against the Mean Green. All of his points came on five three-point field goals (in seven attempts), the most by a Tech player since Quinton Stephens hit five at Virginia Tech last Jan. 18.
• Like Alvarado, Haywood II had four assists and just one turnover against UNT, with three steals and five rebounds in 33 minutes. Haywood II has averaged 35 minutes in Tech’s last two games.
• Senior guard Tadric Jackson made his 2017-18 debut against North Texas and scored in double figures for the 10th time in his last 12 games and for the 23rd time since the beginning of last season. He finished with 14 points, his 19th double-figure game off the bench since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, and the 28th of his career.
• Ben Lammers has scored in double figures in all four games this season, getting 11 points against North Texas playing on an injured ankle he incurred in the Texas-Rio Grande Valley game. Still he played 32 minutes, blocked three shots with two assists and three steals. It was his 35th double-figure scoring game since the beginning of the 2016-17 season. Lammers went 4-for-6 from the floor and had converted 64.4 percent of his field goals this season.
• Lammers also blocked three shots against North Texas and has 15 through four games, ranking No. 4 in the nation and No. 2 in the ACC. Lammers has 191 blocks in his career, which ranks No. 5 in Tech history and he needs eight to catch Malcolm Mackey (199 from 1990-93) for fourth place.
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.