THE FLATS - Georgia Tech continues a stretch of six straight games at home Friday night with the final game of the Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase with a 7:30 p.m. contest against Grambling State 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 won its last four games since its opening 63-60 loss to No. 21 UCLA in China, defeating Bethune-Cookman (65-62), Texas-Rio Grande Valley (78-68), North Texas (63-49) and most recently Northwestern (52-51) on Tuesday night.
Grambling State (1-5), in its first season under coach Donte Jackson is playing its seventh straight road game to open the season, having defeated only Texas-Rio Grande Valley last Friday. The Tigers also dropped games at Bethune-Cookman and North Texas as part of the Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase. The Tigers play at home for the first time Monday against Tugaloo.
Friday’s game will be streamed live on 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 (Sirius ch. 138, XM ch. 381).
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 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 Friday’s game against Grambling State constitute a multi-team event called the Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase, a round-robin event for all four teams 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 eight victories to reach 200 for his head coaching career. In nine-plus seasons, Pastner has a record of 192-90.
• A victory over Grambling State would give Tech its longest winning streak (five games) under Josh Pastner and its longest since the 2012-13 season (six games during the month of December).
• Georgia Tech is conducting a collection of non-perishable foods and and new or slightly used coats at Friday’s game. They will be distributed to local charities during the holiday season.
SERIES VS. GRAMBLING STATE
• This will be the second meeting between Georgia Tech and Grambling State all-time. The only previous meeting came in the opening round of the 1999 Great Alaska Shootout, a 100-88 Tech victory.
• Georgia Tech is 18-1 all-time against members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The only loss occurred to Southern University in the opening round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets have faced every member of the SWAC except Prairie Vierw A&M and Texas Southern.
• Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner won his only previous meeting against Grambling State while head coach at Memphis, 83-65 on Nov. 15, 2015. He is 8-0 as a head coach against the SWAC.
PASTNER ON TECH’S DEFENSE
“Defensively, for the year-and-a-half that I’ve been here, that’s kind of been our calling card, our defense. We really guarded well again. If you look at the numbers and holding a team like [Northwestern], that’s got the offensive fire power that they do and the shooting that they do, to hold them to 36 percent from the field, 21 percent from field, 51 points overall, we really guarded well. That’s our calling card, that’s where we’re going to hang our hat, that’s our DNA.”
NORTH TEXAS COACH GRANT MCCASLAND ON TECH’S DEFENSE
“I just want to give Coach [Josh] Pastner a lot of credit. He has got a short-handed team you can tell and I know [Ben] Lammers got hurt a little bit at the end of that last game before they played us. He just did a really good job of changing defenses and keeping people, I think, just kind of off based and it was tough on our young team. I could tell that we struggled with the changing of the defenses.”
AUDIO FROM COACH PASTNER THURSDAY MEDIA AVA8ILABILITY
• Georgia Tech has led at the half in its last four games and improved to 20-2 under Josh Pastner when leading at the half, 4-0 this season.
• Tech has scored fewer than 70 points in three of its four wins this season (Bethune-Cookman, 65-62; North Texas, 63-49; Northwestern, 52-51). Last year, Tech won only four times when scoring less than 70 and are 7-17 under Josh Pastner when doing so.
• Tech’s 52 points represents the Yellow Jackets’ fewest scored in a victory under Josh Pastner, and the fewest in a game since the Jackets got by Boston College, 51-47, on Feb. 4, 2012 at Philips Arena.
• For the second time in three games, Tech played a long period of time with a key player on the bench in foul trouble and held the fort. Against Northwestern, Ben Lammers (35.4 minutes per game) went to the bench with his second foul at the 11:06 mark and the Jackets ahead 9-8. Tech held a 22-20 lead when he returned. Against Texas-Rio Grande Valley, Tech led 45-33 when Jose Alvarado (33.8 minutes per game) 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 has held its last four opponents under 40 percent from the floor (UCLA shot 40.7 percent) and has yielded 38.1 percent from the floor this season.
• Tech’s defense limited Northwestern to 36.2 percent from the floor (45.2 percent coming in), 5-for-23 from three-point range (36.8 percent coming in) and 4-of-5 from the free throw line (17 points per game coming in). Tech is 19-5 under Josh Pastner when limiting an opponent under 40 percent.
• Northwestern entered Tuesday night’s game averaging 75.7 points per game, and the Yellow Jackets held the Wildcats to 51, continuing a trend that has seen the Jackets hold every opponent significantly below its season average for points. 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, and gave up 63 points to UCLA (90.8 ppg since), 62 points to Bethune-Cookman (86.7 ppg coming in), and 68 points to Texas-Rio Grande Valley (82.0 ppg coming in).
• Tech continued to shoot well from the free throw line (16-for-20) and improved to 74.4 percent for the season. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 17.4 points from the charity stripe this season, compared to 13.6 last season, and rank 10th in the nation according to KenPom.com in highest percentage of points scored at the free throw line (27.4).
• Tech ranks 10th nationally in scoring defense at 58.6 points per game, and No. 45 in field goal percentage defense (38.1 percent). The Jackets are No. 20 in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com.
• Tech also ranks 20th nationally according to KenPom.com in lowest two-point field goal percentage yield (41.1 percent), No. 34 in effective field goal percentage (43.9) and No. 7 in block percentage (19.3).
• Two Georgia Tech players rank among the ACC’s top six in average minutes played - Ben Lammers (second at 34.6) and Jose Alvarado (sixth at 33.8). Curtis Haywood II has averaged 34.0 in Tech’s last three games.
• Tech outrebounded Northwestern 35-29, the second opponent the Jackets have outrebounded this season (one tie vs. Texas-Rio Grande Valley). The Jackets have a slim +1.0 rebound margin.
• Tech has hit 16 three-point field goals in 44 attempts in its last two games (36.3 percent). The Yellow Jackets went 5-for-23 in their first two games.
• Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on 14 of 16 made field goals (87.5 percent), exceeding its nightly goal of 60 percent. The Jackets have assisted on 70.4 percent of their made field goals in five games (ranked No. 3 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 16-of-20 free throws to Northwestern’s 4-of-5 (goal of making more than opponent tries accomplished). For the season, Tech has converted 87 free throws, while opponents have attempted 80. Tech is 24-4 under Josh Pastner when attempting more free throws than the opponent.
• Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech’s guards combined for 14 of Tech’s 28 defensive rebounds, six of those by Curtis Haywood II and five from Tadric Jackson, who are both averaging more than five rebounds per game this season.
• Tadric Jackson’s buzzer-beating layup against Northwestern put him into double digits for the game, giving him 20 double-digit games off the bench since the beginning of last season and 29 for his career. He made his 2017-18 debut against North Texas and scored 14. The senior guard has reached double figures 11 times in his last 13 games and for the 24 times since the beginning of last season.
• Jackson also had four assists, seven rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes off the bench.
• Curtis Haywood II has scored in double digits in each of Georgia Tech’s last three games, scoring 11 against Northwestern without missing a shot of any kind (3-3 FG, 2-2 on threes, 3-3 FT). The freshman guard also had six rebounds, two assists and just one steal in 32 minutes.
• Haywood II has played 37, 33 and 32 minutes in Tech’s last three games, averaging just over 12 points while hitting 11-of-20 shots from the floor, 8-of-12 from three-point range, and 7-of-9 from the free throw line. He also has averaged 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.3 steals.
• Ben Lammers has scored in double figures in all five games this season, getting 13 points (3-6 FG) with six rebounds in 31 minutes against Northwestern. The 6-10 senior has hit 62.7 percent of his shots from the floor and 89.5 percent (17-of-19) from the foul line this season. He also leads the Jackets with 10 steals.
• Lammers blocked one shot against Northwestern and has 16 through four games, ranking No. 4 in the nation and No. 1 in the ACC. Lammers has 192 blocks in his career, which ranks No. 5 in Tech history, and he needs seven to catch Malcolm Mackey (199 from 1990-93) for fourth place.
• Jose Alvarado has 22 assists to just nine turnovers over five games and has nine steals to rank second on the team. He also has hit 52.3 percent of his shots from the floor and 78.9 percent (15-of-19) from the free throw line.
• Jackson (5.5 rpg) and Alvarado (5.2) are both averaging more than five rebounds per game from the backcourt.
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.