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Georgia Tech Basketball Game Preview: Miami Hosts Jackets

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The Yellow Jackets and Hurricanes face off in a battle of bubble teams

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech and Miami will face off on the hardwood tonight in a game that is critical for both teams’ tournament chances. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a come-from-behind victory over Boston College on the back of a career-high 29 points from 6th man Tadric Jackson. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes lost a heart breaker Saturday at Louisville, leading by 7 at the half but letting the lead slip away down the stretch.

Coral Gables has been good to Georgia Tech in recent years. In 2015, the last time the Jackets made the trip south, former Tech star Marcus Georges-Hunt led the way to a 20-point upset of #23 Miami (one of just 3 ACC wins for Tech that season). Two years prior, Georges-Hunt, then a freshmen, hit a lay-in at the buzzer to upset #6 Miami. The Hurricanes aren’t ranked this season, and Georges-Hunt is in the NBA, but Tech will look to keep the good times rolling in Coral Gables.

Resume Comparison

Team Record ACC Record AP Rank Bracketology RPI Rank KenPom Rank Record Against KenPom Top 50 Best Win Worst Loss
Team Record ACC Record AP Rank Bracketology RPI Rank KenPom Rank Record Against KenPom Top 50 Best Win Worst Loss
Georgia Tech 15-10 6-6 N/A First 4 out 76 79 5-7 North Carolina (10) Ohio (106)
Miami 16-8 6-6 N/A 9 Seed 49 35 1-8 North Carolina (10) at Syracuse (46)

Stat Comparison

Team PPG Opponent PPG FG% Opponent FG% 3FG% Opponent 3FG% FT% RPG Opponent RPG APG SPG BPG
Team PPG Opponent PPG FG% Opponent FG% 3FG% Opponent 3FG% FT% RPG Opponent RPG APG SPG BPG
Georgia Tech 68.1 66.6 43.4 39.2 34.5 32.7 68.9 37.5 36.1 15.5 6.3 6.3
Miami 72.4 64.5 46.1 41.0 36.9 33.4 70.9 37.5 31.5 12.2 6.5 4.3

Georgia Tech (15-10, 6-6)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 0 Justin Moore Fr. 23.0 5.2 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 turnover vs BC
G 11 Josh Heath Sr. 28.8 5.6 4.1 apg (8th in ACC)
G 5 Josh Okogie Fr. 28.9 15.3 17.3 ppg vs ACC
F 12 Quinton Stephens Sr. 31.9 10.2 7.8 rpg (6th in ACC)
C 44 Ben Lammers Jr. 34.3 14.7 9.7 rpg (2nd in ACC), 3.2 bpg (2nd in NCAA)
6th Man 1 Tadric Jackson Jr. 22.0 11.2 29 pts on 12-21 shooting vs BC

Miami (16-8, 6-6)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 0 Ja'Quan Newton Jr. 32.3 15.0 3.6 apg
G 11 Bruce Brown Fr. 31.2 11.7 1.54 spg (7th in ACC)
G 5 Davon Reed Sr. 34.6 15.5 83.1% FT% (7th in ACC)
F 21 Kamari Murphy R-Sr. 27.9 6.4 7.5 rpg (10th in ACC)
F 20 Dewan Huell Fr. 19.0 6.3 51.6% FG%
6th Man 3 Anthony Lawrence, Jr. So. 24.7 7.2 12.7 ppg since moving back to bench (3 games)

Player to Watch

G - Bruce Brown

I almost wrote about senior guard Davon Reed, who is Miami’s unquestioned leader and one of the best shooters in the ACC, but Brown’s profile and box scores really stood out. Just a freshmen, Brown already does a little bit of everything for the Canes. He is their third leading scorer, at 11.7 ppg (up to 12.8 ppg vs the ACC). Despite being a guard, he is second on the team in rebounding (6.4 rpg - second highest among ACC guards). He has only 7 fewer assists than starting point guard Ja’Quan Newton, with roughly half the turnovers. He is also 7th in the ACC in steals and 2nd among ACC guards in blocks (the leader is Tech freshman phenom Josh Okogie).

Brown will likely take a much bigger role next season with the departure of Reed, but he is already drawing looks from some NBA draft experts as well as comparisons to Oklahoma City’s superstar Russell Westbrook. Brown hit a little bit of a slump over the past couple of weeks (went 1-12 from the floor against Virginia Tech last week) but the freshman will no doubt be a focal point for the Yellow Jackets on both ends of the floor.

What to Watch

The Hurricanes pose quite the challenge for the Yellow Jackets. Miami is a very well rounded team, ranking 54th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 36th in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom. The Yellow Jackets are elite defensively, ranking 10th in the nation in defensive efficiency, but the offense lags far behind (252nd). Tech’s defense has to lock down Miami’s scorers to give the Jackets a chance at pulling an upset. One key to watch is how Tech does on the defensive glass. Miami is very good at pulling in offensive rebounds, giving them ample opportunity at second chance points. Limiting these opportunities could go a long way towards pulling an upset.

The game may swing on the availability of Tech forward Quinton Stephens. The senior has been dealing with an injured ankle that caused him to miss most of the previous game against Boston College. Stephens expects to play but may end up being a game time decision or limited. Though Tadric Jackson and Justin Moore were able to pick up the slack against the Eagles, losing Stephens would be hard to overcome. His presence on the defensive glass, length, and shooting are all irreplaceable for the Yellow Jackets. If he can’t go, look for the Heath-Moore-Jackson-Okogie-Lammers lineup Coach Pastner used for the first 19 minutes of the second half on Saturday to get heavy usage. Any useful minutes Pastner can squeeze out of Christian Matthews and Kellen McCormick would be huge as well.

Where to Watch

The game will be broadcast on your ACC Network Affiliate starting at 8:00 PM ET. If you live outside of the Atlanta, Miami, or Orlando viewing markets, the game can be found online through watchESPN.