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Louisville vs. Georgia Tech preview: Cards face depleted Yellow Jackets in Atlanta

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Louisville’s looking for its third straight ACC win and eighth straight win against Georgia Tech.

Louisville Cardinals (12-5, 3-1) At Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-7, 2-2)

Game Time: 4:06 p.m.

Location: McCamish Pavilion: Atlanta, Ga.

Television: Raycom/WHAS-11 in Louisville

Announcers: Evan Lepler (play-by-play) and Brian Oliver (analyst)

Officials: Ron Groover, A.J. Desai, Paul Szelc

Favorite: Louisville by 3.5

Series: Louisville leads, 20-13

Last Meeting: Louisville won 77-54 on Feb. 8, 2018 in Louisville

Series History:

Probable Starting Lineups:

Statistics:

Relevant Videos:

About Georgia Tech:

Georgia Tech enters Saturday with the odd distinction of ranking near the top of the ACC in nearly every defensive category and near or at the bottom in every defensive one. The Yellow Jackets have held 15 of their 17 opponents this season below their season scoring average, but their offensive output of 70.6 points per game is dead last in the league.

Putting up points on Saturday could prove to be even more difficult than usual for Josh Pastner’s team. Leading scorer Jose Alvarado (13.7 ppg) will miss the game because of a groin injury. Third leading scorer Brandon Alston (9.6 ppg) is out because of a “personal matter.” A third contributor, reserve Abdoulaye Gueye (5.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg), is sidelined due to a “unspecified medical condition.”

Without those three, much of the scoring load will rest on the shoulders of talented but inconsistent 6’8 forward James Banks III. Banks is averaging 10.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, but has been prone to no-show performances that have frustrated the GT staff. More will also be asked of freshman guard Michael Devoe (8.7 ppg), who will slide over and fill Alvarado’s spot at the point.

Georgia Tech is one of the deeper teams in the ACC, an attribute that comes in handy when you’re suddenly without three key contributors. Ten players on the team are averaging 13 or more minutes per game. Pastner has deployed seven different starting lineups this season, and 10 Yellow Jackets have started three or more games.

Tech is top five in the ACC in virtually every major defensive category, including first in steals, second in effective FG% defense, and third in block percentage. The offensive numbers are almost perfectly inverted. The Jackets turn the ball over at a higher rate than any other team in the league, they’re the second worst offensive rebounding team, the fourth-worst free-throw shooting team, and dead last in points per game.

STRENGTHS: Great defensive team, James Banks III’s skillset, forcing turnovers, two-point field goal shooting, assists per field goals made.

WEAKNESSES: Three key players including leading scorer are out, turnovers, rebounding, three-point shooting, allowing opponents to get to the free-throw line.

Notable:

—Louisville has won seven consecutive games against Georgia Tech and is 5-0 against the Yellow Jackets since joining the ACC. GT hasn’t defeated U of L since December of 1997.

—Louisville has scored 80 or more points in 11 of its 17 games (80.0 ppg) and the Cardinals are 13th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency by Ken Pomeroy. U of L is second in the ACC in scoring offense for conference games (84.8 ppg).

—Louisville is 4-2 all-time in games against Georgia Tech head coach Josh Paster. Pastner went 2-2 against the Cardinals when he was at Memphis.

—Chris Mack and Josh Pastner faced one another twice when Mack was at Xavier and Pastner was at Memphis State. Each won one of those games.

—Georgia Tech will be celebrating “Anthony Morrow Day” on Saturday, honoring the former player (2004–2008) who spent nine seasons in the NBA.

—Georgia Tech is 13-7 in ACC home games under Josh Pastner, and 5-4 against top 25 ACC teams.

—Louisville is 10th in the nation in free-throw attempts per field goal attempts (435/969, 44.9 percent) and is 10th in the nation with 24.1 percent of its points coming from free-throws.

—Louisville and Georgia Tech played the first college basketball ever inside the Georgia Dome. The game was played in front of the largest crowd ever to witness a college game in the state of Georgia at the time (28,885). The Jackets won the game on a halfcourt buzzer-beater by James Forrest.

—This will be Chris Mack’s first game against Georgia Tech has a head coach, but Wake Forest was 5-2 against the Jackets during Mack’s time as an assistant in Winston-Salem.

—Louisville is 11-0 this season when shooting a better percentage from the field than its opponent.

—Louisville has won 148 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.

—Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games on the court in each of the last 16 seasons (also Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga).

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 68, Georgia Tech 66