Georgia Tech feels like its team is coming together, with the return of Tadric Jackson from suspension and Josh Okogie drawing near to the end of his time away, entering Friday’s home contest with Grambling State after. Jackson’s driving layup beat the buzzer and defeated Northwestern 52-51 on Tuesday as Georgia Tech won its fourth consecutive game since losing its opener to UCLA in China.
“I’m just trying to get going,” Jackson told reporters after he scored 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting in his second game back after missing three games due to receiving gifts in violation of NCAA rules. “I feel like today I had a couple of mistakes, but I’m back in the groove.” Yellow Jackets coach Josh Pastner lamented his team’s sloppiness against Northwestern, including one stretch of six consecutive turnovers in the second half. Center Ben Lammers continues his strong start to the season, averaging 16.2 points and eight rebounds through five games. The Tigers have lost five of the first six contests during a season-opening seven-game road trip, including defeats at VCU and Iowa.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network Extra
ABOUT GRAMBLING STATE (1-5): The Tigers are near the bottom of the national rankings in scoring defense, allowing 84.7 points per game, and have surrendered fewer than 82 points just once. Ivy Smith Jr. leads three players averaging double figures in scoring at 13.5 per game, recording 14 points in the final two minutes of Grambling State’s victory over Texas Rio Grande Valley on Saturday. The Tigers nearly rallied Monday in a loss at North Texas, erasing a 19-point second-half deficit before falling 82-77.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH (4-1): Jackson, who averaged 12.1 points per game last season, played 30 minutes off the bench Wednesday as freshman guards Curtis Haywood II and Jose Alvarado started and combined for 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Alvarado has been impressive through his first five collegiate games, shooting 52.3 percent from the field while averaging 13.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Lammers has 16 blocks and 10 steals in five games.
1. The Yellow Jackets have held opponents to 38.1 percent shooting and 58.6 points per game.
2. Haywood is 7-for-9 from 3-point range in his past two games, going 5-for-7 in Friday’s victory over North Texas.
3. Okogie’s suspension ends after Friday’s game, but an infection on a left finger may sideline the sophomore guard deeper into December.
PREDICTION: Georgia Tech 81, Grambling State 65