THE FLATS - Georgia Tech finishes off a stretch of six straight games at home Sunday evening with a nationally-televised non-conference game against Tennessee, which tips off at 6 p.m. 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. After opening the season with a 63-60 loss to No. 21 UCLA in China, Tech had won four straight games until dropping a 64-63 decision to Grambling State Friday night.
Tennessee (5-1), in its third season under head coach Rick Barnes, last played Wednesday, defeating Mercer, 84-60, at home. This is Tennessee’s first game on an opponent’s home court this season. Tech also is the second of four Atlantic Coast Conference opponents the Volunteers will face this season. Tennessee defeated NC State (67-58) in the third-place game of the Battle4Atlantis tournament, will host North Carolina on Dec. 17, and visit Wake Forest on Dec. 23.
Sunday’s game will be carried live to a national audience on ESPNU, 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 (Sirius ch. 108, XM ch. 108).
THE STARTING LINEUP
• Georgia Tech is concluding a six-game homestand, having played three times last week and three times this week before the Yellow Jackets’ next road game Wednesday at Wofford, which will complete a three-game contract with the Terriers. The Yellow Jackets play away from home only three times before Atlantic Coast Conference play begins - the season opener against UCLA in China, the Wofford game, and the Dec. 19 intra-state rivalry contest at Georgia.
• Tennessee is the highest-ranked team in the RPI (No. 17) that Georgia Tech has faced to date. Only Duke, Virginia and North Carolina are higher among teams on the Yellow Jackets’ schedule.
• 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. Tennessee and Georgia are receiving votes in the Associated Press poll.
• 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.
SERIES VS. TENNESSEE
• Tennessee has a 43-28 lead in the all-time series which dates back to 1921. The teams were Southeastern Conference rivals from 1932-64, and the teams continued to meet annually through the 1967-68 season before taking a 14-year hiatus.
• Sunday’s game is the third of four games the two teams have agreed to play, with the final installment set for Knoxville next season. The Volunteers captured last year’s meeting, 81-58, in Knoxville, and the Yellow Jackets escaped with a 69-67 win in November of 2015 at McCamish Pavilion.
• Shembari Phillips, a 6-3 guard sitting out the season for the Yellow Jackets after transferring from Tennessee, had a standout game for the Vols in last year’s meeting, scoring 14 points (4-5 FG, 2-2 on 3s, 4-4 FT) with seven assists and just one turnover in 30 minutes. He did not play in the teams’ November, 2015 game at McCamish Pavilion.
• Among non-Atlantic Coast Conference teams, only Auburn (114 meetings), Georgia (193), Vanderbilt (73) and Tulane (71) have been more frequent opponents than Tennessee (71).
• The last time Georgia Tech won in Knoxville was on Feb. 7, 2004, a 77-62 Tech win when Paul Hewitt was the Yellow Jackets’ head coach, and Buzz Peterson was the Volunteers’ head man. In that game, Marvin Lewis, now Tech’s associate director of athletics and chief financial officer, lead the Jackets with 18 points, hitting 8-of-11 shots from the floor and 5-of-6 from three-point range. B.J. Elder added 20 points for Tech.
• Tech is 9-25 all-time against the Volunteers in Knoxville, including a 1-1 record at Thompson-Boling Arena, 2-8 at Stokely Athletics Center and 3-12 at Alumni Memorial Gym.
• Third-year Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes was 5-3 against Tech during his four-year stint at Clemson (1994-98), and is 6-4 overall against the Jackets. First-year Tech head coach Josh Pastner was 3-2 against the Volunteers while at Memphis (3-3 overall).
• Tech and Tennessee have played 11 times since the Yellow Jackets left the SEC, winning nine of those. The Volunteers won the first eight of those, including a 70-69 win on a last-second, half-court heave by Jon Higgins at Phillips Arena on Dec. 15, 2002.
COACH PASTNER AUDIO - GRAMBLING STATE PRESS CONFERENCE
• Georgia Tech’s loss to Grambling was its first at McCamish Pavilion since Feb. 21 of last season (NC State), snapping a seven-game homecourt winning streak.
• Head coach Josh Pastner has used three different starting lineups this season, inserting Tadric Jackson in place of Brandon Alston, who had started the first five games, for Grambling State. He was joined by center Ben Lammers, forward Abdoulaye Gueye and guards Jose Alvarado and Curtis Haywood II. Alvarado, Gueye and Lammers have started every game this season. Lammers has started Tech’s last 43 consecutive games. (Alston started the second half of the Grambling State game in place of Gueye.)
• Georgia Tech trailed at the half (25-23) for the first time since the season opener against UCLA, and fell to 0-2 this season and 4-15 under Josh Pastner when trailing at the half.
• The Yellow Jackets have made 26 three-pointers in 71 attempts (36.6 percent) their last four games. Tech canned a season-high 10 three-point field goals in 27 attempts against Grambling State, surpassing the seven it made against North Texas.
• Tech has scored fewer than 70 points in five games this season, winning three of those, but fell to 7-18 under Josh Pastner when scoring less than 70 with the loss to Grambling State.
• Tech shot 50 percent in the second half as it erased a 16-point deficit to lead by three, the third time the Yellow Jackets have shot 50 percent or better in a second half this season (60 percent vs. Texas-Rio Grande Valley, 55.6 percent vs. North Texas).
• Tech had held four consecutive opponents under 40 percent from the floor since UCLA shot 40.7 percent, but Grambling State converted 44.4 percent of its field goal tries, 51.9 percent in the second half. Tech has yielded 39.2 percent from the floor this season.
• Tech has held each of its opponents this season under their season scoring averages, and Grambling State was no exception, scoring 64 points after averaging 71.7 coming in. Northwestern entered Tuesday night’s game averaging 75.7 points per game, and the Yellow Jackets held the Wildcats to 51. 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 entered the game Grambling State hitting 74.4 percent of its free throws and averaging 17.4 points from the stripe, both significant improvements over last season (68.2 percent, 13.6 ppg), but was able to connect on just 11-of-22 from the line against Grambling State.
• Tech enters Sunday’s game No. 12 nationally in scoring defense at 59.5 points per game, and No. 54 in field goal percentage defense (39.2 percent). The Yellow Jackets also are No. 24 in fewest fouls committed.
• The Jackets are No. 26 nationally in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com, 23rd nationally in lowest two-point field goal percentage yield (41.8 percent), and No. 7 in block percentage (18.2).
• Two Georgia Tech players rank among the ACC’s top 10 in average minutes played - Ben Lammers (second at 35.2) and Jose Alvarado (ninth at 33.2). Curtis Haywood II has averaged 34.5 in Tech’s last four games.
• Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on 17 of 21 made field goals (80.9 percent), exceeding its nightly goal of 60 percent. The Jackets have assisted on 72.2 percent of their made field goals in six games (ranks No. 2 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 11-of-22 free throws to Grambling State’s 8-of-12 (goal of making more than opponent tries not accomplished). For the season, Tech has converted 98 free throws, while opponents have attempted 92. Tech is 24-5 under Josh Pastner when attempting more free throws than the opponent.
• Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech’s guards combined for 10 of Tech’s 22 defensive rebounds, five from Tadric Jackson.
• Tadric Jackson made his first start of the 2017-18 season, and his first start since last March 7 against Pittsburgh in the opening round of the ACC Tournament. Jackson, who finished second in the balloting for ACC Sixth Man of the Year last season, has started 13 games in his career.
• Jackson has scored in double digits in each game since returning to the court, getting 14 against North Texas, 10 against Northwestern and 19 against Grambling State. The senior guard has reached double figures 12 times in his last 14 games and for the 25 times since the beginning of last season.
• Jose Alvarado scored a career-high 22 points (20 in the second half) against Grambling State and has been in double figures in five of six games. He also made a career-high four three-point field goals in 10 attempts and is 9-for-29 from distance for the season.
• Alvarado has 26 assists to just 10 turnovers over six games and has 12 steals to lead the team (No. 8 in the ACC). He also has hit 51.8 percent of his shots from the floor and 80.8 percent (21-of-26) from the free throw line.
• Curtis Haywood II drained three three-point field goals as Tech rallied in the second half against Grambling State, giving him 10 threes in 15 attempts over his last three games.
• Haywood II has played 37, 33, 32 and 36 minutes in Tech’s last three games, averaging just over 11.5 points while hitting 14-of-26 shots from the floor, 11-of-18 from three-point range, and 7-of-9 from the free throw line. He also has averaged 5.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals.
• Ben Lammers failed to score in double figures for the first time this season, getting four points with nine rebounds in 38 minutes against Grambling State. The 6-10 senior had an uncharacteristically poor shooting night (1-7 FG, 2-5 FT) after coming in hitting 62.7 percent of his shots from the floor and 89.5 percent from the foul line this season. He remains ninth in the ACC in field goal percentage at 56.9.
• Lammers blocked seven shots against Grambling State and has 23 through six games, ranking No. 3 in the nation and No. 1 in the ACC. Lammers has 199 blocks in his career, tied for fourth place in Tech history with Malcolm Mackey (199 from 1990-93).
• Backup point guard Justin Moore had seven assists and no turnovers in 18 minutes against Grambling State. It was his second zero-turnover game this season and 14th of his career.
• Jackson surpassed 800 points for his career against Grambling State (now at 812). Lammers needs 35 to reach 800.
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.