North Carolina (12-2) vs. Georgia Tech (10-3)
Chapel Hill, N.C. – Smith Center
ACCN (Tim Brant, Dan Bonner)
“He just did a great job. The kid has a chance to be a helluva player. He really does. We’re going to need him. We’re a team that we have to count on different guys every night.” – Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory on the play of sophomore reserve forward Ben Lammers in Tuesday’s win over Duquesne
“We had a slip up here and there in the nonconference but at 10-3 I feel good about where we’re at because I feel like we can still get better.” – Gregory
Season to Date: Georgia Tech enters Saturday’s contest with a 10-3 record. The veteran Yellow Jackets have won six of their last seven and own wins over Tennessee and Arkansas. Losses to Villanova and Georgia can be explained, but the head scratcher is a 69-68 loss to East Tennessee State.
Swarming The Boards: Georgia Tech has rebounded the basketball exceptionally this season, outrebounding opponents by nearly 10 boards per game. Senior forward Charles Mitchell has particularly gathered missed shots well for the Yellow Jackets with more than 11 rebounds per contest. The Yellow Jackets have specifically done damage on the offensive glass. Georgia Tech is ranked 22nd in the nation in offensive rebounds at a rate of 14.3 per game. It’s worth noting that in UNC’s most recent loss, the Tar Heels gave up 16 extra possessions on the defensive end to Texas.
Track Jackets: Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory has emphasized playing up-tempo basketball this season, which makes for an intriguing match-up given North Carolina’s noted tendency to run the floor. The early results for the change in strategy have been positive thus far for Gregory’s team. They’ve jumped from 277th in the nation to the top-100 in scoring average, 288th in field goal percentage to the top-100 and are currently ranked 68th in offensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com.
Big Game Hunter: Senior guard Marcus Georges-Hunt leads the Yellow Jackets in scoring this season with 14.5 points per game. Georges-Hunt has scored almost 9 points per contest against North Carolina in his career, not including the most recent match-up between the two schools, when Georges-Hunt left the game with an injury after just three minutes of play. A key to guarding Georges-Hunt will be to pressure him when he has the ball. Georges-Hunt has turned the ball over a team-high 27 times this season.
Joshing Around: Junior guard Josh Heath has been a sensational catalyst for the Georgia Tech offense, dropping 55 assists against just 16 turnovers for the Yellow Jackets this season. Heath averages the fewest points per game (4.2) of any Georgia Tech starter, but his pass-first mentality and court vision allows him to contribute more than just scoring. Heath might not be a household name, but he has potential to give UNC’s guards fits with his passing.
Three-Point Sting: Two of the Yellow Jackets’ three losses this season came via 3-pointers. In Georgia Tech’s first loss of the season, East Tennessee State senior guard Ge’Lawn Guyn hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with just three seconds left to down the Yellow Jackets, 69-68. In Georgia Tech’s most recent loss to Georgia on December 19th, junior Bulldogs guard J.J. Frazier drained six 3-pointers in a 35 performance to sink Georgia Tech.
Last Meeting: The Tar Heels routed the Yellow Jackets, 81-49, in Atlanta on March 3, 2015. Freshmen Joel Berry (15 points) and Justin Jackson (13) led the way as UNC shot 53.1 percent from the game while holding Georgia Tech to 32.8 percent. The 32-point win was the largest ever by UNC in Atlanta.
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series, 66-24.
3 Marcus Georges-Hunt (6-5, 216, Sr.) – 14.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg
11 Josh Heath (6-2, 179, Jr.) - 4.2 ppg, 4.2 apg
0 Charles Mitchell (6-8, 256, Sr.) - 12.8 ppg, 11.6 rpg
2 Adam Smith (6-1, 165, Gr.) - 13.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg
33 James White (6-8, 226, Gr.) - 4.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg
1 Tadric Jackson (6-2, 209, So.) - 5.2 ppg, 1.1 rpg
44 Ben Lammers (6-10, 231, So.) - 4.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg
10 Travis Jorgensen (6-0, 184, So.) – 3.3 ppg, 2.5 apg