StLou's Previews: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Virginia comes off its bye weekend to find a home date with the ACC's second worst team waiting. These two teams played a tight first half before Virginia pulled away for a safe win in January; will this game also end in as comfortable a victory?

Game Details:

Date/Time: Wednesday, Feb 21st, 7:00 PM EST
Location: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA

What 'They' Say

Vegas: UVA -20, O/U 113
TAPE: Ranks GT #153, predicts a 71-46 UVA win, 99% confidence
KenPom: Ranks GT #124, predicts a 63-44 UVA win, 96% confidence


Depth Chart:


PG #1 Tadric Jackson, 6-2 203, SR
27 mpg, 11.5 ppg, 1.9 apg, 26% 3P%
SG #5 Josh Okogie, 6-4 213, SO 
35.8 mpg, 18.6 ppg, 2.2 apg, 35% 3P% 
SF #3 Evan Cole, 6-9 211, FR 
10.3 mpg, 2.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 47% FG% 
PF #34 Abdoulaye Gueye, 6-9 214, JR 
24.3 mpg, 6.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 47% FG% 
C #44 Ben Lammers, 6-10 234, SR 
36.1 mpg, 11 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 2.5 bpg 

Key Reserves


#4 Brandon Alston, 6-5 200, JR
22.9 mpg, 5.3 ppg, 1.6 apg, 31% 3P%
F #12 Moses Wright, 6-9 210, FR 
14.7 mpg, 3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 37% FG% 
F/C  #24 Sylvester Ogbonda, 6-10 239, SO 
2.9 mpg, 1 ppg, 1 rpg, 60% FG% 


The ABC's of GT:

A) The loss of PG Alvarado was crippling. Alvarado, though only a true freshman, was key to the team before seeing his season end to an elbow fracture vs Duke two weeks ago. In ACC play, he was scoring double digits (10.4 ppg), shooting reliably from deep (39%), and facilitating with 2.7 apg (though also turnover prone, true freshman and all). Without him, there's not a true PG left on the team. Tadric Jackson and Josh Okogie will try to fill that role, but both are better as off guards. Their offense was struggling plenty before his injury, of course, but this is the ACC, and guard play is a non-negotiable. Without a true PG, the Jackets offense should struggle all day vs the Pack Line.

B) Ben Lammers is wearing down. Lammers entered the year as one of the ACC's most proven commodities, a true big man who'd put together an all-ACC season as a junior, racking up stats in points, rebounds, and blocked shots alike. This year, however, as the team has broken down around him, he's been asked to carry too big a load for him to manage efficiently. His ACC ppg is down from 14.5 to 9.4, his blocks are down from 3.0 to 2.0, his FG% from 47% to 40%. Defenses have been able to key onto him as there are fewer threats around him for him to kick back out to. He's playing nearly 37 minutes a game in ACC play, which even in a zone is going to wear a big man like him down.

C) They're going with a big lineup lately. The injury to Alvarado means they're down to only three guards (at least only three that Pastner is willing to play), those three being Jackson, Okogie, and Alston. Against VT over the weekend, the three of them shared the floor for only 10 total minutes. Against Wake the game prior, it was only 3 minutes. That means that without Alvarado, they're playing 30-35 minutes with a lineup that features the 6'-9" Cole and Gueye splitting time at the 3 spot. Neither are natural wings, they're playing a little out of position. Gueye hasn't made a 3 in ACC play yet, and Cole is only 3/9 from deep. This will be an interesting defensive cover for Hall or Jerome, depending how Tony splits their defensive assignments between the lanky forwards and the dynamic Okogie. I imagine GT tries to leverage this height on the offensive glass, and use second chance points from the forward spots to keep them in this game, so defensive rebounding fundamentals will be key when we have our smaller starters in.

Their season to date:

Georgia Tech is 11-16 on the season, 4-10 in the ACC. They scored good wins over ND, Syracuse, and Miami earlier in the year, but are currently on a five-game losing streak, including a 17 point loss at Wake Forest, and most recently a 20 point loss hosting VT. 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Get into the passing lanes. We turned them over 18 times at their place, and if they try any sort of aggressive ball movement, we should have a similar level of success. Similarly, by controlling the passing lanes, GT may simply elect to not even try to move the ball, instead building their offense around iso hero ball, conceding system offense and assists to prevent turnovers, which of course just plays further into our hands. It would be nice to get TOs (10 of those 18 last time were live ball steals), to turn into easy offense, but even without that, the threat of our ball disruption should gring their offense to a halt and keep them under 50 again, at least until the bench gets emptied.

2) Break down the zone via the paint attack. GT can't play man, not with their depth issues, so we'll see 2-3's and 1-3-1's out of the Jackets. I think at this point it should be pretty well rehearsed, we've seen a lot of zones this year and gotten into decent rhythms with them. But still needs to be said, zones are best broken down by paint touches and using the gaps as a distribution point. And really, after the VT debacle, the team needs to spend every game just getting drilled by the coaches to attack the paint as often as possible, and let that set up the 3-point game, rather than the other way around. Lammers had big defensive impact early in the 1st game (6 blocks at the half), before we schemed to score over and around him with Hunter, as opposed to trying to score through him with the guards or posts; the staff needs to have a game plan in place to go high-low around him from the tip and it should flow smoothly from there.

3) Get out to a fast start then go to the bench. This is going to continue to be a major theme from me, as keeping our starters fresh needs to be a focus from the game plan in many of our games. Kyle and Ty are banged up and it's throwing off their 3-point shots, so the more time we can give to the bench, the better. Aim to keep the starters closer to 30 minutes if at all possible, and put Nigel and Mamadi to good use (Hunter doesn't need to be mentioned at this point), maybe even spot minutes for Marco and Huff. Yes, it may mean a closer margin of victory, but it's also going to mean a stronger finish, and a stronger bounce-back for ensuing games. The key, then, is winning the first 8 minutes decisively to allow the bench to come in and hold down the fort for 5+ minutes, before bringing the starters back in to close the first half strong, then put the game away in the first 8 minutes of the 2nd half.


The Wreck Rambles In

Updated on February 20, 2018 by Seattle Hoo

When last we met our heroes, Isaiah Wilkins and Devon Hall were looking a little run down and Nigel Johnson was trying to work his way back into the good graces of the team. Wilkins appeared to still be struggling with a sore back and Hall had recently had "flu-like symptoms" (is that the flu, or not?) and pneumonia, two things that don't just go away in two days. But that was all two lifetimes ago - ok, 8 days, but it SEEMS like two lifetimes when all you have are Miami and Notre Dame and those teams from the Evil Triangle and Trae Young to feed your fix.

The Hoos come back from the bye Wednesday night to host Georgia Tech.  The Ramblin' Wreck are aptly named these days.  They are pretty much a wreck. They've been thin all season and now they are without their point guard. Jose Alvarado suffered a fractured elbow in what was apparently gruesome fashion.  I'm glad I missed it and the young man has my sympathy. But his loss has been devastating to Georgia Tech's offense.  It was devastated to begin with, and what I saw the other night against Virginia Tech was as bad as Virginia's defense is good.

Sharon Cox-Ponder for HOOS Place

The only senior I want to see play major minutes is Nigel.  For both Isaiah and Devon, the arc I would like to see Wednesday night is roughly the same: around 12 minutes in the first half and 6-8 minutes in the second.  Get some exercise, some reps, get back into the flow of playing, but avoid extended major exertion. This week is the "easy" part of the schedule.  Take advantage of it.

Nigel can use a lot of minutes.  Work on the PacklineTM, work on running the offense.  Tadric Jackson is an interesting matchup for him, as they are of similar size and Jackson's game is built around getting into the lane and powering up weird shots that go in.  He can hit the three, but if you can make that the only shot he gets, he doesn't hit them consistently. He's a far better outside shooter when he's getting into the lane.  Nigel can make a huge contribution to the game simply by keeping Jackson out of the lane.

When Devon is in the game, look for him to be on Josh Okogie as much as possible in Virginia's switching defense.  The two are similar in build and a lot of Okogie's game is overpowering opponents. He had his moments in Atlanta but his production was far below season averages.  Only chance Tech has is for Okogie or Jackson or probably both to have a monster game.



Georgia Tech is in a freefall right now. They've lost 9 of their last 10, just lost their 32 mpg PG, are effectively eliminated from postseason eligibility at this point, and that doesn't even consider distractions from coach Pastner's legal trouble. This is the kind of team that will come out ready to throw haymakers, but once punched in the mouth a few times, should ultimately fold. This is a team we can and should attack early and often to put the game away by halftime, early in the second half at the latest. No excuse not to have a comfortable enough lead to let Marco and Huff get some burn. I could see the spread being covered, and GT approaching 50 only because they're able to rack up some garbage time points against our second unit.

Hoos Win - 68-47