GAME NOTES: The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will begin a four-game road trip on Saturday with a visit to Memorial Gymnasium for a non-conference matchup against the Vanderbilt Commodores.
The Yellow Jackets coasted to a 74-57 decision over Kennesaw State in Atlanta on Monday to notch their third win in a row. Georgia Tech now owns an 8-3 record with its Atlantic Coast Conference opener at Maryland on Jan. 4 rapidly approaching. Coach Brian Gregory's team has picked up a pair of notable wins over Georgia and Illinois and its three losses have come courtesy of respectable foes in Dayton, Ole Miss and St. John's. Although the Yellow Jackets are outscoring their opposition by just under 10 points per game, they are one of just four in the 15-team ACC with a negative turnover margin.
Just 12 days after defeating Marshall by two points, Vanderbilt survived another close call on Tuesday as it edged Austin Peay, 58-56, after trailing the Governors by two points at halftime. Coach Kevin Stallings's team is 6-3 on the campaign after winning four of its last five games. The Commodores have played in only one game decided by more than nine points. They have successfully defended their home court in all four chances. Vanderbilt is ranked 12th out of 14 SEC schools in scoring margin (plus-2.0) and last in the league in turnover margin (minus-3.89).
This will be the 72nd meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood and the first since the 2008-09 season. Georgia Tech defeated the Commodores, 63-51, in the last encounter, but Vanderbilt still owns a 38-33 all-time series lead which includes a 25-8 home record against the Yellow Jackets.
Sophomore forward Robert Carter, Jr. registered his fourth double-double of the season for Georgia Tech against Kennesaw State with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and 15 boards. Daniel Miller tallied a team-high 16 points to go along with eight rebounds while Trae Golden chipped in 15 points and four assists. Marcus Georges-Hunt, who is leading the Yellow Jackets in the scoring column on the season with 140 points (12.7 ppg), added 10 points. Golden is just a single point behind Georges-Hunt on the team's leaderboard while Carter, is near a double-double averages with 11 points and an ACC- leading 9.8 rebounds per tilt.
Senior guard Kyle Fuller came to life late versus APSU, scoring all 10 of his points with under six and half minutes to play to help the Commodores prevail. Fuller did most of his damage from the charity stripe as he continued to have difficulty knocking down jump shots. The senior guard has converted only 4- of-22 attempts from the floor including just 2-of-10 from beyond the arc over his last three outings. Fuller was not the only Commodore to struggle against APSU. Vanderbilt connected on only 37.3 percent of its field goal tries, but overcame the poor shooting by holding a 43-38 edge in rebounding and outscoring the Governors, 16-7, at the free-throw line. Damian Jones led the way with 12 points, while Rod Odom just missed a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Eric McClellan has become the go-to-guy in his first active season at Vanderbilt since transferring from Tulsa. McClellan is netting team-high averages of 15.7 points and 3.4 assists, but he has hit on only 14.3 percent of his tries from 3-point range.
The Commodores tend to play to their level of competition. They will have trouble adjusting from their recent weak mid-major foes to keep pace with Georgia Tech's athletic roster. The Yellow Jackets managed to win their only previous true away game at Georgia early in the campaign. Vanderbilt's perfect home record will be in jeopardy if it does not deliver a strong performance for a full 40 minutes.
Game Date and Time