Closing out a season where not much was expected from Georgia Tech under first-year head coach Josh Pastner, the Yellow Jackets cap the regular season at Syracuse Saturday.
Georgia Tech (17-13, 8-9 ACC) wasn’t expected, even by its own administration, to win a single Atlantic Coast Conference game in 2016-17, and got eight of those, and are a solid bubble team for the NCAA tournament.
The Yellow Jackets will cap their first season under first-year head coach Josh Pastner on the road at Syracuse on Saturday afternoon, a team that the Jackets beat 71-65 in Atlanta back in mid-January.
Wrapping up a 15-4 home record this past week, Tech travels to Syracuse with a 2-9 road record on the year so far, and will be looking for a win to end the regular season at .500 in the ACC. An even conference record would be a first for Tech since the 2006-07 season.
Also important for Tech would be a No. 9 seed in the upcoming ACC tournament in New York with a win Saturday, giving the Jackets a first round bye.
Last Time Out:
Tech all but clinched a shot at an NCAA tournament bid with a 61-52 win over Pittsburgh at McCamish Pavilion on Tuesday night.
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Big man Ben Lammers put up 20 points in the victory for the Jackets, with 15 of those coming in the second half of play. He went 8-for-13 on field goals, and hit all four of his free throw attempts.
As a team, Tech hit 46.2 percent of its field goals, and out rebounded the Panthers, but survived after losing the turnover battle.
Know the Opponent:
Syracuse (17-13, 9-8 ACC) will be looking a avenge its February loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and to beat out the Yellow Jackets for a first round bye in the ACC tournament.
Saturday’s winner will also take a one game lead in the all-time series between Syracuse and Georgia Tech, currently tied at 4-4.
The Orange are led by senior guard Andrew White III, who is averaging 17.1 points-per-game on the season. He had exactly 17 versus Tech in a loss last month.
As a team, Syracuse is averaging 75.9 points-per-game, and only giving up 71. On defense, forward Tyler Lydon is averaging over eight rebounds a game on the year.
Players to Watch:
Georgia Tech: C Ben Lammers
Featuring Ben Lammers for the Yellow Jackets as a “player to watch” is like saying the sky is blue this season. When he plays well, Tech wins. When Lammers doesn’t have a solid game, the Jackets struggle. For Tech to go out strong with a win in the regular season finale, Lammers will need to make the easy shots, and dominate the boards on both ends of the court.
Taurean Thompson led his team with 18 points in their loss to Georgia Tech back in February in Atlanta, and didn’t even shoot considerably well, going only 8-for-21 on field goals. He’ll need to surpass that to put his team over the hump this time around.
Tyler Lydon owned the boards in Atlanta this season, with 15 rebounds in his team’s loss to Tech last month. If he can keep the ball away from the Jackets as much on Saturday, don’t expect a big scoring day, especially in transition, for the Ramblin’ Wreck.
A pair of evenly matched teams with nearly identical records, Georgia Tech and Syracuse have strikingly similar quality wins over top ranked opponents. The Yellow Jackets got the best of the Orange in Atlanta, and there’s really no reason to believe that a rowdy home crowd in the Carrier Dome won’t give Syracuse the same advantage. Look for the Orange to get the best of Tech in a close one.