THE FLATS – Georgia Tech returns home for the first time in 11 days Wednesday night when it hosts Ball State for a 7 p.m. regionally-televised game at McCamish Pavilion.
Tech (4-4. 1-1 ACC), in its fourth season under head coach Josh Pastner, has dropped its last two games, Dec. 7 at home to Syracuse (97-63) and last Saturday at No. 8 Kentucky (67-53) after a 4-2 start. The Yellow Jackets are 3-2 at home this season, having defeated Elon, Bethune-Cookman and Nebraska, and lost to the Orange and Arkansas.
Ball State (5-4, 0-0 MAC), in its seventh season under head coach James Whitford, defeated IUPUI on Dec. 7 in its last game to snap a two-game skid. The Cardinals, who split their only two road games early in the season (lost to Evansville, defeated UIC) are on the road again for the first time after five straight games at home. Tech is the first power conference opponent for Ball State this season.
Wednesday’s game will be televised live on the ACC’s Regional Sports Network (Fox Sports South in Georgia). Live streaming is available on ACC Network Extra through the ESPN app. Radio coverage is provided through Learfield IMG College, airing in Atlanta on 680 AM and 93.7 FM the Fan and through the TuneIn app. The Tech broadcast is also available on satellite radio (XM ch. 371, internet ch. 971).
Head coach Josh Pastner previews the Ball State game and Jordan Usher’s first opportunity to suit up as a Yellow Jacket.
- Diamond Head look-in – Wednesday night’s game is a non-bracketed game in the Diamond Head Classic. Both teams are playing in the tournament on opposite sides of the bracket, and could meet on the final day of the event (Dec. 25).
- Quick exit – Though Tech and Ball State do not play their first games of the Diamond Head Classic until Sunday, both teams will leave Atlanta Thursday morning to make their flight to Honolulu.
- Long time away – Following Georgia Tech’s trip to Hawai’i, the Yellow Jackets play their next two games on the road, Dec. 31 at Florida State and Jan. 4 at North Carolina. Tech does not play at home again until Jan. 8 against Duke.
- Looking ahead – When Tech plays its final round game of the Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 25, it will be only the second time in program history that the Yellow Jackets played on Christmas Day. Tech opened the 1926-27 season by playing eight consecutive road games from Dec. 20-28, including a Dec. 25 contest against the Lorain Lions Club.
- Ushering in – Junior Jordan Usher will make his debut for the Yellow Jackets Wednesday night against Ball State. The 6-7 guard/forward from Canton, Ga., became eligible following the official posting of grades from the fall semester (Georgia Tech policy), after serving his required year-in-residency (NCAA rules) after he transferred from Southern California. Usher enrolled at Tech last January.
- Sophomore guard Michael Devoe ranks third in the ACC in scoring (19.4 ppg), and would be third in three-point shooting (.462) with two more three-pointers made. He also is No. 1 in minutes played (36.9).
- Tech has the ACC’s leading shot-blocker in senior center James Banks III (3.9 per game, No. 3 in NCAA).
- Junior forward Moses Wright ranks No. 2 in the ACC in field goal percentage (.554) and No. 5 in rebound average (8.5 per game).
- Tech has played six of its last seven games, and most of the seventh, without junior point guard Jose Alvarado, who has a right ankle injury. Alvarado led Tech in scoring, assists and steals last season.
- No ducking – Georgia Tech’s schedule is the sixth-strongest among power conference teams accordin to KenPom.com, behind Michigan, Oregon, Michigan State, Minnesota and North Carolina. Tech’s schedule included six power conference teams in its first eight games, including road games at NC State, Georgia and Kentucky, and home games against Arkansas, Nebraska and Syracuse. The Jackets’ non-conference schedule rates 14th-toughest among power conference teams.
- Beefing up – With a more veteran team in 2019-20, Georgia Tech made an effort to strengthen its non-conference schedule, beginning a two-game series with Kentucky and finishing another two-game set with Arkansas, while accepting an invitation to play in the Diamond Head Classic, in which the Jackets could wind up playing a pair of 2019 NCAA Tournament teams in Houston and Washington. Tech has also played its annual meeting against Georgia and the Big Ten/ACC matchup against Nebraska.
Junior guard/forward Jordan Usher will play his first game as a Yellow Jacket Wednesday night.
SERIES VS. BALL STATE
- Wednesday’s game marks the first meeting between Georgia Tech and Ball State in men’s basketball.
- Tech is 2-2 all-time against members of the Mid-American Conference. Most recently, the Yellow Jackets lost at home to Ohio, 67-61, on Nov. 18, 2016.
- Tech head coach Josh Pastner is 1-1 all-time against teams from the MAC, both against Ohio.
FOLLOWING THE TRENDS
- Through eight games, Georgia Tech ranks No. 44 in defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com (91.6 points per 100 possessions). No. 18 nationally in effective defensive field goal percentage (42.6) and 16th in two-point field goal defense (41.1).
- Since the beginning of last season, Tech has held 23 opponents, including nine ACC opponents, under 40 percent from the floor. Five of six Tech opponents this season have shot under 40 percent, and the Jackets are No. 5 among NCAA teams, and No. 2 in the ACC, in field goal percentage defense (.346).
- The Jackets have limited 18 opponents, nine in the ACC, to 30 percent or less from three-point range in the same time frame. Tech ranks No. 25 in NCAA rankings at 27.8 percent allowed this season.
- Tech ranks No. 4 nationally in blocked shots with 54 in eight games (6.8 per game). James Banks III is No. 3 in the nation individually with 31 in eight games (3.9 per game).
- Georgia Tech’s adjusted tempo is 71.4 possessions per game according to KenPom (98th in the nation), well ahead of the 66.1 possessions per game last season and 66.8 in 2016-17. Game-by-game, Tech has played less than 70 possessions just three times and has exceeded 100 points/100 possessions three times.
- Tech has reached 70 possessions per game over the course of a full season only four times since 1997, the first year KenPom kept 1997-98 (72.3), 2000-01 (72.1), 2001-02 (70.5) and 2008-09 (70.5).
- Two fouls in the first half? No problem. Georgia Tech ranks No. 1 in the nation, according to KenPom.com, in 2-foul participation, a measure of percentage of available minutes played by players with two fouls (75.1 pct. for Tech). The Jackets led the nation in this category in 2018-19 and was fourth in 2017-18. Ball State ranks No. 2 (70.7) and Washington is third (70.1).
- Tech has trailed at halftime in six of eight games this season, winning two of those. The Jackets are 12-43 under Josh Pastner when trailing at the half.
- Tech has connected on just 22-of-84 three-point field goals in its last four games (2-for-11 vs. Arkansas, 2-for-10 vs. Bethune-Cookman, 5-for-23 vs. Nebraska, 7-for-18 vs. Syracuse, 5-for-18 at Kentucky) after hitting 21-of-63 (33.3 percent) in the first three games of the season. The Jackets are hitting 28.9 percent for the season.
- Moses Wright has averaged 15.0 points and 10.0 rebounds over his last four games, and hit 56 percent of his shots from the floor (28-of-50) in that stretch.
- Wright posted his second career double-double (13 pts, 10 reb) against Kentucky. He missed double-doubles by one rebound each against Nebraska and Syracuse after recording the first of his career against Bethune-Cookman (12 and 12).
- Wright played a season-high 38:20 against Kentucky, and just shy of the career-high 39 minutes he played in Tech’s victory at NC State last March 6.
- Bubba Parham has averaged 8.8 points with four double-figure games over his last six games. He had 10 points against Kentucky, including a pair of three-point field goals and is 9-for-27 from distance over those six games.
- Michael Devoe, the ACC’s leading scorer before Saturday’s action, scored a season-low five points on 2-of-11 shooting from the floor and 0-of-5 from three-point range. The nation’s leader in three-point shooting and scoring earlier in the season, the sophomore has scored just 12 points and hit 1-of-10 three-point tries (4-for-23 overall) in Tech’s last two games.
- Khalid Moore reached double digits against Kentucky (10 points) for the first time since scoring 11 in Tech’s season opener at NC State.
- James Banks III blocked three shots at Kentucky, and has 31 in eight games this season for an average of 3.875, still No. 1 in the ACC and 1.3 per game more than last season.
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ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its fourth year under head coach Josh Pastner. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won three ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993), played in the NCAA Tournament 16 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBB) and Instagram. For more information on Tech basketball, visit Ramblinwreck.com.
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