Game Preview: Georgia Tech at Wofford

Jose Alvarado has averaged nearly 15 points in the second halves of Georgia Tech's three losses.
Dec. 5, 2017

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THE FLATS - Georgia Tech leaves Atlanta for just the second time this season and plays its first true road game Wednesday night when the Yellow Jackets visit Wofford for a 7 p.m. non-conference game at the new Richardson Indoor Stadium in Spartanburg, S.C.

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 dropped its last two games, 64-63 to Grambling State and 77-70 to Tennessee to finish off a six-game homestand. The Jackets fell to No. 21 UCLA, 63-60, in their only other game away from McCamish Pavilion.

Wofford (4-4), in its 16th season under head coach Mike Young, has Georgia Tech at home for the first time in the 16-game history of the series, and the Terriers are 3-1 in their new home this season. Wofford has played its last three games on the road, losing at Texas Tech and UNC Asheville before winning at Coastal Carolina last Wednesday.

Wednesday's game will be streamed live on ESPN3, 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

• Georgia Tech is playing away from home for the first time since its season opener against No. 21 UCLA in China to open the season. The Yellow Jackets played their last six games at home, winning the first four before stumbling against Grambling State and Tennessee. Tech has one more road trip in non-conference play, its Dec. 19 intra-state rivalry contest at Georgia.

• Tech is playing a road game at a non-power conference team's home court for the first time since last Dec. 7, when the Yellow Jackets captured a 76-73 overtime win at VCU. Tech is 12-7 in such games since 2000.

• 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 192-92.

• Tech has managed to go 4-3 without its leading scorer and all-freshman player from last season, Josh Okogie, on the court at all; without senior guard Tadric Jackson for three games; without sophomore point guard Justin Moore for two games; and with its All-ACC senior center Ben Lammers playing on a twisted ankle for the Jackets' last four games.

SERIES VS. WOFFORD

Georgia Tech leads the all-time series with Wofford, 14-2, with all 16 previous meetings taking place in Atlanta. Tech won last year's meeting, 76-72, and the 2015-16 meeting, 77-61, at McCamish Pavilion. Wednesday's game completes a 2-for-1 contract between the two teams.

• The first 13 meetings were played in the Yellow Jackets' former home arena, Alexander Memorial Coliseum, where the Jackets won 12 of 13 games. The lone Wofford win, and the last one for the Terriers in the series, occurred on Dec. 20, 1980, a 49-44 decision in head coach Dwane Morrison's final season at Tech. Tech has won 10 straight since.

• The teams played six times between 1996 and 2001, Tech winning the most recent meeting 79-70 on Dec. 21, 2001, before the current three-game contract.

• Wofford won the teams' first encounter, 20-18, on Jan. 14, 1921.

• This is the second time Tech coach Josh Pastner has faced Wofford. His Memphis teams played one game against a Southern Conference foe, that against Samford. The Yellow Jackets are 2-0 vs. Wofford under its current head coach, Mike Young.

• Tech is 109-33 all-time against current Southern Conference members. The last loss occurred to East Tennessee State, which downed the Jackets, 69-68, in Atlanta early in the 2015-16 season.

TEAM NOTES

• For the last two games, head coach Josh Pastner started Tadric Jackson along with Jose Alvarado and Curtis Haywood II on the perimeter, and Abdoulaye Gueye and Ben Lammers in the frontcourt. Alvarado, Gueye and Lammers have started every game this season. Lammers has started Tech's last 44 consecutive games.

• Two freshmen have started each game for the Yellow Jackets, with Alvarado starting all seven. Curtis Haywood II has started six games, Moses Wright one.

• Georgia Tech, 17-4 at home last season, lost its last two games at home, the first time that happened since Feb. 2 and 7, 2016 (Duke and Miami). Tech has not lost back-to-back non-conference games at home since Dec. 22, 2011 (Mercer) and Jan. 3, 2012 (Alabama), which were played at the Arena at Gwinnett Center and Philips Arena respectively. The Jackets have not lost back-to-back non-conference games at its on-campus home in the ACC era.

• Georgia Tech lost for the first time under Josh Pastner when scoring 70 points in a game, now 18-1 when reaching 70 points.

• Tech trailed at the half (35-29) for the second consecutive game and for the third time this season, and fell to 0-3 this season and 4-16 under Josh Pastner when trailing at the half.

• Tech canned six three-point field goals in 16 attempts against Tennessee, and has made 32 three-pointers in 87 attempts (36.7 percent) its last five games.

• Tech has yielded better than 40 percent from the floor to its last two opponents (44.4 percent to Grambling State, 43.4 percent to Tennessee) after holding four consecutive opponents under 40 percent. Opponents have shot 39.7 percent against the Yellow Jackets this season.

• The Yellow Jackets have held every opponent under its season scoring average this season, all of them significantly lower except for Tennessee, whose 77 points were 2.5 less than its season norm.

• Tech dipped under 70 percent from the free throw line for the season after the Tennessee game (22-for-33) but is still averaging 17.1 points from the charity stripe this season, significantly higher than the 13.6 points is averaged last season.

• Tech enters the game No. 21 nationally in scoring defense at 62.0 points per game, and No. 64 in field goal percentage defense (39.7 percent). The Jackets are No. 27 in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com.

• Tech ranks 25th nationally according to KenPom.com in lowest two-point field goal percentage yield (42.3 percent), and No. 17 in block percentage (16.2).

• Two Georgia Tech players rank among the ACC's top 10 in average minutes played - Ben Lammers (No. 1 at 35.9) and Jose Alvarado (10th at 33.4). Curtis Haywood II has averaged 34.8 in Tech's last five games.

• Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on 13 of 21 made field goals (61.9 percent), exceeding its nightly goal of 60 percent. The Jackets have assisted on 70.7 percent of their made field goals in seven games (ranked 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 22-of-33 free throws to Tennessee's 23-of-27 (goal of making more than opponent tries not accomplished). For the season, Tech has converted 120 free throws, while opponents have attempted 119. Tech is 24-6 under Josh Pastner when attempting more free throws than the opponent. The Jackets also rank 11th in the nation in highest ratio of free throw attempts to field goal attempts (47.6 percent).

• Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech's guards combined for 12 of Tech's 21 defensive rebounds, seven from Curtis Haywood II. Tadric Jackson is averaging 5.3 rebounds per game, Jose Alvarado 4.9 and Curtis Haywood II 4.1 (5.6 in his last five games).

PLAYER NOTES

Ben Lammers returned to double figures for the sixth time in seven games this season, getting a team-high 17 points with nine rebounds in 40 minutes against Tennessee. The 6-10 senior scored 15 of his points in the second half, including a pair of three-point field goals. They were the second and third of his career, and his first since hitting one at Miami on Feb. 15 of last season.

• Lammers blocked only one shot against Tennessee, but it was the 200th of his career, putting him in sole possession of fourth place in Tech history. Lammers needs 43 to catch John Salley (243 from 1982-86) for third place.

• Lammers played 40 minutes for the sixth time in his career. The senior, who has practiced very little since turning an ankle against Texas-Rio Grande Valley, has nonetheless played 32, 31, 38 and 40 minutes in the four games since.

• Lammers needs 18 points to reach 800 for his career.

Tadric Jackson has scored in double digits in each game since returning to the court, getting 14 against North Texas, 10 against Northwestern, 19 against Grambling State and 15 against Tennessee this season. The senior guard has reached double figures 13 times in his last 15 games and for the 26 times since the beginning of last season.

• Jackson, who finished second in the balloting for ACC Sixth Man of the Year last season, has started Tech's last two games. The 6-2 senior has started 14 games in his career.

Curtis Haywood II has scored in double figures in five of Tech's last six games, averaging 11.6 points and 5.6 rebounds over that stretch (17-for-33 FG, 10-for-28 on 3s, 13-for-16 FT) with 23 assists and just seven turnovers.

• Haywood II has played 37, 33, 32, 36 and 36 minutes in Tech's last five games (34.8 per game).

Jose Alvarado (14 points vs. Tennessee) has been in double figures in six of seven games. He hit three three-point field goals as Tech attempted to rally late against the Volunteers, and has seven in his last two games.

• Alvarado has 27 assists to just 12 turnovers over six games and has 14 steals to lead the team. He also has hit 46.5 percent of his shots from the floor and 80 percent (24-of-30) from the free throw line.

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.

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