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Georgia Tech Basketball Game Preview: Jackets Look to Complete Sweep of NC State

Tech follows up Sunday’s big win with the visiting Wolfpack

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

Sunday’s night win over Syracuse was a great showing from Georgia Tech, but they don’t get long to rest on their laurels. Tonight the Yellow Jackets will take to the court once again to attempt a season sweep of NC State. The Wolfpack might be the most disappointing team in the ACC, sitting at 3-12 in conference despite having a likely Top 5 NBA draft pick playing point guard. Last week, the Pack announced they had fired head coach Mark Gottfried, though he would finish the season out, per his request. To their credit, NC State did not fold in on themselves after this announcement. They played hard and fought back from a 23-point deficit to make a game of it against Notre Dame, ultimately losing 81-72.

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 16-11 7-7 N/A 11 seed/Last 4 In 73 76 6-8 North Carolina (6) Ohio (102)
NC State 14-14 3-12 N/A N/A 108 104 2-11 at Duke (12) at Boston College (152)

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 67.9 66.6 43.7 39.4 34.7 32.8 68.9 36.7 36.1 15.7 6.4 6.3
NC State 79.4 80.5 47.6 45.0 36.2 36.2 69.8 36.2 36.3 15.0 5.2 4.4

Projected Starters

Georgia Tech (16-11, 7-7)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 30 Corey Heyward Sr. 17.7 2.1 2-15 shooting vs ACC
G 11 Josh Heath Sr. 29.6 5.7 4.4 apg (6th in ACC)
G 5 Josh Okogie Fr. 29.3 15.3 17.1 ppg vs ACC
F 12 Quinton Stephens Sr. 32.3 9.9 7.7 rpg (7th in ACC)
C 44 Ben Lammers Jr. 34.7 15.0 9.3 rpg (3rd in ACC), 3.4 bpg (2nd in NCAA)
6th Man 1 Tadric Jackson Jr. 22.2 11.5 25 ppg in last 3 ACC Home Games

NC State (14-14, 3-12)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 4 Dennis Smith Jr. Fr. 34.5 18.9 (6th in ACC) 6.6 apg (1st in ACC), 1.96 spg (2nd in ACC)
G 3 Terry Henderson R-Sr. 31.5 13.8 20.8% FG% over last 3 games
G 24 Maverick Rowan So. 28.8 12.5 17 pts vs GT on 1/15
F 0 Abdul-Malik Abu Jr. 28.5 11.7 54.5% FG% (8th in ACC)
C 14 Omer Yurtseven Fr. 20.4 6.5 8 pts in 12 min vs Notre Dame on 2/18
6th Man 2 Torin Dorn R-So. 24.1 10.1 Started last 2 games

Player to Watch

G - Terry Henderson

Dennis Smith, Jr. is far and away the Wolfpack’s best player and someone you should definitely watch play before he leaves for the NBA, however everyone knows that and I covered him here the first time these two teams played. This time, I want to look at NC State’s senior guard Terry Henderson. The former West Virginia player spent two years in Morgantown before transferring to Raleigh. In his first game in a Wolfpack uniform, Henderson tore an ankle ligament and missed the rest of this year. Now, after two years waiting, Henderson is finally playing for NC State and is having a pretty solid season.

Henderson is the Wolfpack’s best and most prolific shooter, leading the team in 3-point field goals made, attempted, and in 3-point percentage (2.5 3FGM, 6.4 3FGA, 38.8% 3FG%). Looking at the advanced metrics, he is the team’s most efficient offensive player, leading in offensive rating and true shooting percentage. Unfortunately for the Pack, Henderson’s productivity has dropped off precipitously against ACC opponents. In the non-conference season, he averaged 16.4 ppg on 47% shooting (41% from 3). Against ACC competition, that has dropped to 11.5 ppg on 39% shooting (36% from 3). Getting a big night out of Henderson - one reminiscent of the early part of the season - would be huge for NC State and spell trouble for Tech.

What to Watch

The last time these two teams played, Tech was the darling of the ACC, sitting at 2-2 after the early season gauntlet with upset wins over UNC and Clemson. NC State was desperate for a win to avoid a 1-4 ACC start. The pressure was all on the Wolfpack. Tonight the tables have turned. Tech is riding high off a huge win over Syracuse and must hold serve on their home court to keep up their hopes of an NCAA Tournament appearance. NC State has fired their coach and is simply playing out the string. That’s not to say they won’t play hard. On the contrary, State has nothing to lose in this game and may have found something during their ill-fated late rally against Notre Dame.

The Pack have the talent to give Tech some issues, but the Yellow Jackets are the better team. In the first meeting, Josh Okogie went off, going toe-to-toe with Dennis Smith. Quinton Stephens had one of his best shooting days on the way to 20 points. Ben Lammers was somewhat quiet, but still put up a double-double. Most impressively, the Jackets had 24 assists on 31 made field goals. The Pack are not a good defensive team, and Tech found ways to take advantage of that before and hope to do much of the same again tonight. I’d expect Tech to see if they can get Lammers going early against NC State’s big men. Omer Yurtseven, their big 7-ft Turkish center, moved to bench last week, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in the starting lineup to try and limit Lammers in the post.

My biggest concern for Tech is the effects of playing a game roughly 48 hours after the end of a grueling, down-to-the wire game against Syracuse. Lammers and Stephens both played the full game, while Okogie and Josh Heath each played 38 minutes. That’s a lot to ask of any player but especially from four guys who have all been battling nagging injuries in recent weeks. It’s something to keep an eye on, though with the McCamish faith feeding them energy they should be ready to give it everything they’ve got.

Where to Watch

Hopefully it’ll be another packed house down at McCamish! If you can’t make it down to The Flats, tune into your ACC Network affiliate (Peachtree in Atlanta) at 8:00 PM ET.