Game Preview: #2 Virginia faces test at surprising Georgia Tech

Game Preview: #2 Virginia faces test at surprising Georgia TechThat Georgia Tech team that lost at home to Grambling State and on the road at Wofford, and beat Bethune-Cookman at home by one? #2 Virginia doesn’t get that bunch.

The ‘Hoos (16-1, 5-0 ACC) get the Yellow Jackets who have wins at home over Miami and Notre Dame and a win on the road at Pitt over the weekend.

Georgia Tech (10-7, 3-1 ACC) does it with defense, ranked 10th nationally in scoring defense, allowing 62.8 points per game, using an exotic combination of zones – the standard 2-3, the 1-3-1, a 3-2 matchup, even a 1-1-3.

The Jackets like to slow tempo, averaging 65.4 possessions per game, 323rd nationally, and Coach Josh Pastner has been using a seven-man rotation in ACC play, trying to coax enough offense to get by.

The offensive end has been a struggle for Tech, ranked 188th nationally in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com, scoring 1.028 points per possession.

Josh Okogie, a 6’4” guard, is the leading scorer, at 18.8 points per game, shooting 43.9 percent from the floor and 43.3 percent from three-point range.

Three other Yellow Jackets average double-digits: 6’2” guard Tadric Jackson (13.6 ppg, 48.7% FG, 28.7% 3FG), 6’0” guard Jose Alvarado (12.9 ppg, 46.7% FG, 33.8% 3FG), and 6’10” center Ben Lammers (12.1 ppg, 9.2 rebs/g, 45.4% FG).

Keys to the game: Virginia

Attacking the zones: Georgia Tech doesn’t sit back in its zone defense, switching things up sometimes possession to possession. Opponents can have trouble recognizing the look, taking precious seconds off the shot clock and forcing scrambles as the clock runs down. It will be incumbent upon Virginia’s guards to get the team into offensive sets early.

De’Andre Hunter: The 6’7” guard/forward was a zone-buster against Syracuse in a 68-61 UVA win on Jan. 9, scoring 15 points, 13 in the first half, dominating the area in the soft middle of the 2-3, the area at and around the free-throw line. Hunter had just two points in Virginia’s 68-51 win over NC State on Sunday, but he will need to step up as a focal point for Virginia to have success against the GT zone.

Jack Salt on Ben Lammers: Salt played a career-high 35 minutes in Virginia’s 62-49 win over Georgia Tech last year in Charlottesville, squaring off with Lammers, who played 38 minutes and scored just seven points on 3-of-12 shooting. Expect Salt to get another workout tonight checking Lammers in the post.

Game Preview by Chris Graham

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