ATLANTA, GA – Ankle issues? No time for rest? No big deal for Ben Lammers.
Coming on the heels of a 40 minute game at Miami, Lammers put his own heels to work in a pivotal ACC home tilt against Syracuse.
Going the full 40 minutes for the second consecutive game, Lammers was elite on both ends of the court Sunday night. He dropped in a cool 23 points on 11 of 18 shooting. He added 7 rebounds, with 4 coming on the offensive glass. When Syracuse possessed the ball, Lammers disrupted the Orange offense via 7 blocks, 3 steals and several more altered shots.
Put that all together and you have an All-ACC performance from the junior big man from San Antonio.
Most importantly, Lammers’ efforts led the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (16-11, 7-7) to a crucial 71-65 victory over the Syracuse Orange (16-12, 8-7) in a clash of two NCAA tournament bubble teams.
“Ben has just gotten better and better and better and better and better,” said Tech head coach Josh Pastner. “He just gets better and better and better. He’s fantastic.”
Pastner’s emphasis on ‘better’ is also an apt description of Georgia Tech’s track during the 2016-17 season, in large part due to Lammers’ continued progression.
One man does not make a team, and one cannot underestimate the contributions from others.
Senior captain Quinton Stephens also went the full 40 minutes Sunday night while battling through his own injury issues.
“I was bouncy,” said Stephens. “I was ready. You can’t get more jacked up than having a sellout crowd, playing a good Syracuse, playing with my teammates. So I mean, that energy’s contagious.”
Stephens was solid across the board, adding 7 points, 6 rebounds and a career-high 8 assists.
Sunday’s game was one of streaks. Syracuse held a 9 point lead with just over a minute to go in the first half. Georgia Tech closed the half with a 6-0 run, highlighted by a Tadric Jackson 3-point buzzer beater. The Jackets’ run continued over to the 2nd half, stretching to 26-5 over 11+ minutes of game time.
Half of Georgia Tech’s 26 points during the run came from Jackson, who finished with 20 points on 8 of 15 shooting. The junior guard from Tifton, GA has provided a much-needed spark from the bench in Tech’s last three ACC home games, each resulting in a win. Prior to tonight’s effort Jackson poured in 25 vs. Notre Dame and 29 vs. Boston College, with nearly every point valuable to the outcome.
The Jackets led by as much as 13 points. Syracuse’s last gasp effort fell short. Sparked by an effective full court press, the Orange closed the margin to 2 points with under 30 seconds to play but could not pull even.
Georgia Tech is now 7-7 in ACC play with an opportunity to pull above .500 on Tuesday. Up next is the Jackets’ second of two games vs. North Carolina State, a squad looking to heal open wounds and avenge an earlier loss to Tech.
Taking care of business at home on Tuesday is important, and it’s another opportunity for the Jackets to build their resume for something bigger.