The Yellow Jackets (5-4) will head into enemy territory Tuesday night, looking to pick up their 6th win of the season against the Georgia Bulldogs (7-2). Tuesday night’s game will represent the 194th meeting between Georgia Tech and Georgia, a series which the Yellow Jackets lead 103 to 90. Tech will be looking for revenge after last seasons 60-43 loss, the second in a row after winning the previous four.
The Bulldogs 7-2 record matches the best nine game start of Mark Fox’s Georgia tenure, but the season has been up and down for the Bulldogs. While they have picked up a pair of marquee wins over Saint Mary’s and Marqette, a loss to UMass last weekend stained what had been a strong start to the season. The Bulldogs have also played close games with Cal St. Fullerton, Winthrop, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi, making it hard to figure out exactly which team you’ll get on any given night.
Yante Maten, a contender for national player of the year, does it all for Georgia. The 6-8 senior is averaging a near double-double at 18.7 ppg and 9.3 rpg. Maten is particularly strong on the offensive glass, picking up four offensive boards a game. Tech will need to do a strong job boxing him out and limiting second chance opportunities. On the season, Maten is shooing 51% from the field and 89% from the line.
The injury bug continues to bite the Yellow Jackets. Despite getting Josh Okogie back against Florida A&M, Tech lost freshman guard Curtis Haywood and will be without him for the second game in a row on Tuesday. In addition to Haywood, senior Tadric Jackson, who is averaging nearly 16 ppg, will be unavailable after re-aggravating a previous injury in Sunday’s victory. Without those two guards, Josh Okogie will be called upon to play a large chunk of minutes, despite starting conditioning just a week ago. Sylvester Ogbonda, who is battling an MCL injury and has only played in two games all season is also doubtful.
In contrast to the Yellow Jackets (who rank 213th in offensive efficiency and 34th in defensive efficiency), Georgia’s team is much more balanced. Coming into Tuesday’s game, Georgia ranked 69th in defensive efficiency and 110th in offensive efficiency. Offensively, the Bulldogs attack the paint and crash the glass, ranking among the best in the country in offensive rebounding and free throw rate. They do not take many threes and shoot just 34% from behind the arc when they do. Defensively, the Bulldogs are strong at limiting teams from getting good looks, ranking among the best in the country in defensive FG%, but they do it without a lot of pressure, as they sit near the bottom of the country in turnover percentage.
Georgia students were dismissed for break last week, meaning the Yellow Jackets may get a break Tuesday night with a slightly more tame crowd. Georgia head coach Mark Fox expressed Monday that he still expects a strong crowd for the rivalry game so it will be interesting to see just how full Stegemen ends up at tipoff.
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