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Georgia Tech Basketball Game Preview: Senior Night Goldout vs. Pitt

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The Yellow Jackets close out their home schedule against the Panthers

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

The Yellow Jackets close out their 2017 home schedule with a Senior Night Goldout of the visiting Pitt Panthers. McCamish Pavilion has been good to Tech this season, as the team has compiled a 14-4 home record that includes 3 wins against AP Top 15 teams. Georgia Tech will be facing their second consecutive weeknight game with a quick turnaround as they once again tip off just over 48 hours after finishing their last game. This time, the Jackets dropped their previous game 64-60 to Notre Dame in South Bend, Tech’s second straight loss. The Panthers are also coming in on a two game losing streak, falling at Wake Forest and to North Carolina on their Senior Night.

As is tradition on Senior Night, Georgia Tech will celebrate six players who will be suiting up in the white and gold for the final time. Grad transfers Kellen McCormick and Jodan Price, as well as seniors Josh Heath, Rand Rowland, Quinton Stephens, and Corey Heyward will all be honored in a pre-game ceremony. Most notably, this will be the 128th game Quinton Stephens has played in for the Yellow Jackets, which will tie former point guard Mfon Udofia for 5th on the all-time list. Barring something unforeseen, Stephens will tie the all time record (130 games - held by Malcolm Mackey, Marvin Lewis, Anthony McHenry, and Marcus Georges-Hunt) in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

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 16-13 7-9 N/A First 4 Out 93 77 5-8 North Carolina (3) NC State (105)
Pittsburgh 15-14 4-12 N/A N/A 61 72 4-11 Virginia (9) Duquesne (224)
RPI and KenPom Stats are as of February 26th.

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 67.7 66.7 43.8 39.4 34.2 32.9 68.4 36.4 36.1 15.3 6.4 6.3
Pittsburgh 75.4 75.9 45.0 45.1 37.2 35.3 73.2 35.7 35.0 14.9 3.8 3.4

Projected Starters

Georgia Tech (16-13, 7-9)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 30 Corey Heyward Sr. 17.2 2.1 GT career: 122 points in 88 games
G 11 Josh Heath Sr. 30.1 5.9 287 career assists (T-17th in GT History)
G 5 Josh Okogie Fr. 29.9 15.6 18.4 ppg in ACC home games
F 12 Quinton Stephens Sr. 32.7 9.7 127 career games played (T-6th in GT History)
C 44 Ben Lammers Jr. 35.0 14.6 9.3 rpg (3rd in ACC), 3.4 bpg (2nd in NCAA)
6th Man 1 Tadric Jackson Jr. 22.8 12.0 16.0 ppg over last 9 ACC games

Pittsburgh (15-14, 4-12)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 1 Jamel Artis Sr. 34.3 19.2 (4th in ACC) 3.4 apg
G 12 Chris Jones R-Sr. 32.0 7.3 47.9% FG%
G 23 Cameron Johnson R-So. 33.4 11.9 42.2% 3FG%
F 21 Sheldon Jeter Sr. 28.6 8.3 7.3 rpg
F 2 Michael Young Sr. 33.5 20.2 (1st in ACC) 7.0 rpg
6th Man 5 Justice Kithcart Fr. 13.4 1.4 1.9 ast/TO

Player to Watch

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

F - Michael Young

As the ACC’s leading scorer, Young may be a bit of an obvious choice for a player to watch, but his matchup with Ben Lammers will be fascinating to watch play out. Young is one of just 6 ACC players that have a usage rate over 28% (the bar to be considered a “Go-To Player” by KenPom.com) but he’s not just a volume scorer. Among those 6 players, only Wake Forest’s John Collins has a better offensive rating (a measure of an individual player’s offensive efficiency). Young has range out the three point line and is a proficient shooter from that range. Tech mostly uses a zone defense, so Lammers won’t have to chase Young around the perimeter too often but his range could pull the big man out from under the basket at times. That said, Lammers should have an advantage on the glass versus Young, as the Panthers’ star has seen his rebound rates drop pretty drastically from last season.

What to Watch

Not much was expected out of the Pitt this season but the Panthers have still been slightly disappointing. They had a solid, if unspectacular, non-conference season and upset Virginia in their second ACC game. However, they followed up that stunner with an 8 game losing streak they never recovered from. While that swoon likely knocked them out of NCAA contention, the Panthers have gone 3-3 since then with wins over Syracuse and Florida State and could make a late run at the bubble or an NIT bid.

On the other hand, Georgia Tech finds themselves in the thick of the bubble discussion, desperately needing to pick up a home win to keep their chances alive. The Panthers do have several elements that could pose a problem for the Yellow Jackets. Pitt fields a very experienced team, starting four seniors who are less likely to get rattled by opposing fans than a player making his first trip through the conference. The Panthers are also extraordinarily long. Their shortest starter is 6’-6” guard Chris Jones. In a bit of a twist, Jones is also their only starter that is not a three point threat (25% on just over a shot a game). The length of Pitt’s guards and the range of their big men will pose a bit of a challenge for Tech’s defense. Coach Pastner’s normal recipe of mixing up zones could be a good counter, as it would prevent Lammers from having to chase Michael Young around the perimeter and would help to negate the length mismatch in the backcourt.

As was the case last week against NC State, rest will play a big factor in the result of this game. Pitt essentially had two extra days to prepare, as their weekend game was a home game that tipped off at noon on Saturday. On the other hand, Tech’s last game tipped at 6:30 Sunday night in northern Indiana. To try and prepare for the quick turnaround, Pastner gave Stephens and Lammers a little bit of rest against Notre Dame, but the big men still shouldered a heavy load. The productivity of Lammers will be especially important. Against NC State, Tech’s star center looked exhausted from opening tip, bouncing free throws off the front of the rim and coming up short on his normally reliable jumper.

If there is one thing going in Georgia Tech’s favor it is that Josh Pastner has never lost three straight games as a head coach. This year alone, the Yellow Jackets have come off of back-to-back losses to beat VCU, Clemson, and Florida State. This coaching staff has shown they can look at their team and find a way to right the ship quickly.

Where to Watch

If you’re headed to McCamish for the game, be sure to get there early for the Senior Night ceremony and to wear gold!

If you’ll be watching on TV, the game will be broadcast on ESPNU. Tipoff will be at 9:00pm ET.