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Georgia Tech Basketball Game Preview: 2017 ACC Tournament First Round - Pittsburgh Panthers

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Tech opens postseason play against Pitt...who they played a week ago

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

If it feels like it was just last week that Georgia Tech was preparing to play Pitt, well, that’s because it was. When the Yellow Jackets and Panthers tip off tonight in the first round of the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, it will be only one week since the teams last faced off. On senior night in Atlanta, Tech took care of business, beating Pitt 61-52 behind Ben Lammers’s 20 points. The big man scored 15 of his 20 in the second half, fueling the Yellow Jackets’ comeback from a 3-point halftime deficit.

The week since these teams last played has not been great for either side. Tech enters the ACC Tournament off a 90-61 blowout loss at Syracuse. The Jackets came out of the locker rooms in the second half and cut the lead to single digits before Andrew White III exploded, leading the Orange to victory. Pitt’s week was a little more tumultuous. On Friday, freshman point guard Justice Kithcart was dismissed from the team. Kithcart was a reserve who played about 13 minutes per game but the Panthers were already a fairly shallow team, so any loss hurts. The next day, stars Michael Young and Jamel Artis showed up late to the team breakfast and were benched for the first 10 minutes of their 67-42 loss to Virginia. The loss also marked Pitt’s first losing regular season since 1999-00.

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 17-14 8-10 N/A Next 4 out 95 80 6-9 North Carolina (4) Ohio (102)
Pittsburgh 15-16 4-14 N/A N/A T-70 74 4-13 Virginia (5) Duquesne (218)

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 67.3 67.0 43.9 39.8 33.3 33.8 68.1 36.2 35.8 15.2 6.5 6.1
Pittsburgh 73.5 75.2 44.5 45.1 36.5 35.5 73.2 35.3 34.9 14.5 4.0 3.4

Projected Starters

#11 Georgia Tech (17-14, 8-10)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 30 Corey Heyward Sr. 16.7 2.0 Played just 10 minutes vs Pitt on 2/28
G 11 Josh Heath Sr. 30.3 6.0 4.9 apg vs ACC
G 5 Josh Okogie Fr. 30.1 15.5 17.1 ppg vs ACC
F 12 Quinton Stephens Sr. 32.9 9.7 7.5 rpg
C 44 Ben Lammers Jr. 35.1 14.6 20 pts vs Pitt on 2/28
6th Man 1 Tadric Jackson Jr. 22.8 12.0 16.0 ppg over last 9 ACC games

#14 Pittsburgh (15-16, 4-14)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 1 Jamel Artis Sr. 34.1 18.4 3.4 apg
G 12 Chris Jones R-Sr. 31.9 7.1 47.7% FG%
G 23 Cameron Johnson R-So. 33.5 11.8 41.3% 3FG%
F 21 Sheldon Jeter Sr. 28.7 8.0 7.3 rpg
F 2 Michael Young Sr. 33.2 19.9 16 pts vs GT on 2/28
6th Man 4 Ryan Luther Jr. 20.2 6.3 54.5% FG%

What to Watch

Pitt is led by two of the best scorers in the ACC, point guard Jamel Artis and center Michael Young. Artis is an atypical point guard, standing in at 6’-7” and being more of a scorer than a distributor. He slid into the role from the small forward position and, all things considered, has done pretty well. He leads the team in assists, averaging a hair over 3 per game, though his assist to turnover ratio is lower than you’d like. Whatever his faults as a point man, he makes up for it with his shooting. He’s a 48/39/73 shooter and averages 18 points per game. Similar to Artis, Young isn’t a prototypical center. He can handle the role on defense, but on offense he’s an adept three-point shooter, taking just under 4 shots from behind the arc per game and making 36% of them. Young led the ACC in scoring most of the season before a late push from Luke Kennard pushed the Duke guard into the lead.

For Tech to defeat Pitt again, they will need their defense to step up and limit the effectiveness of Artis and Young. In the first meeting, Young led the Panthers with 16 points on 6-14 shooting. However, Artis was not at his best, 38% from the field and 20% from deep, well below his season averages. Additionally, Tech’s guards forced him into committing 5 turnovers. Tech’s defense should be up for the challenge but it will be interesting to see if Pitt has any more success the second time they see the Yellow Jackets.

For Tech, the key, as always, is finding scorers to supplement Josh Okogie and Ben Lammers. The two led the way in the first meeting with Pitt and were supported with an efficient 9 points from Josh Heath and a...less efficient 9 from Quinton Stephens. Getting a good look on every possession (ie: not taking bad shots early in the shot clock or passing up a good shot when it presents itself) is imperative and should be obtainable against a Pitt defense that rates 13th in the ACC in defensive efficiency.

Where to Watch

The game will tip off at 7:00 pm ET and will be broadcast on ESPNU. The winner will play Virginia on Wednesday around 9:00 pm.