After a long offseason, Georgia Tech fans finally saw new head coach Josh Pastner and his team in action Friday night. Big nights from Ben Lammers and Josh Okogie led the Jackets to the victory over Tennessee Tech.
Coach Pastner went with two freshman in the starting lineup, Justin Moore and Josh Okogie, along with AD Gueye, Ben Lammers, and Quinton Stephens. Corey Heyward played big minutes off the bench, leading to a career high 8 points. Sylvester Ogbonda, Christian Matthews, and grad transfers Jodan Price and Kellen McCormick all saw minutes as well. The Jackets were without guard Tadric Jackson, who was held out with a hamstring injury and Josh Heath, who is suspended for the first four games of the season.
Lammers and Okogie combined for almost half the Jackets points (33), both on efficient, 7/9 shooting efforts. Lammers showed off a much improved post game, showing an array of moves down low. The big post presence also led the Jackets with eight rebounds and owned the paint all night, racking up five blocks. Freshman Josh Okogie stepped up big in his first college game, showing an ability to beat his defender to the basket, draw fouls, and hit open jump shots. Quinton Stephens was the only other Georgia Tech player in double digits, scoring 12 points on 3/9 shooting.
Tech fans are already seeing significant differences between Pastner’s style of play and Brian Gregory’s. Besides the high pace of the game, the Jackets showed lots of offensive ball movement, working the ball around the Tennessee Tech defense to find open shots. 17 of the 28 Georgia Tech field goals were assisted. Additionally, the Jackets offense was able to attack and penetrate the holes in the Tennessee Tech zone defense. While it wasn’t the Syracuse zone out there tonight, it was still a welcome sight for Tech fans, after seeing the team struggle against the zone so much the past few years.
There are still plenty of things to work on, including the fifteen turnovers, but Tech fans have to be pleased with what they saw tonight, regardless of the opponent. The Jackets had an effective night offensively, shooting 56% as a team, and the defense was much improved from last weekends scrimmage, holding the Eagles to just 33% shooting. While most Tech fans realize this could be a long season, tonight’s win gave a glimmer of hope for the future and a glimpse into the program Josh Pastner is building.
Next game: Monday (11/14) vs Southern - 7:30 ET