The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets look to continue to protect their home court Friday, hosting the Prairie View A&M Panthers. The game tips at 4:00pm EST and will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.
Pastner's Yellow Jackets are 3-0 at home this year and 18-4 in out of conference home games during his tenure. Currently, Georgia Tech ranks #71 in the KenPom rankings while Prairie View A&M sits at #277. Prairie View A&M averages 69 points per game on offense and surrenders 74.8 on the the season. Kenpom predicts a final score of 78-62 in favor of the good guys for this one.
The Panthers come into the game with a 1-5 record. They are led by fourth year coach Byron Smith. During his tenure the Panthers have a record of 36-49 and have never finished with a winning record. It should be noted that he has only coached two full seasons. They are a member of the Southwest Athletic Conference. A traditional one bid league, the SWAC has been represented in the NCAA tournament by Texas Southern in 4 of the last 5 NCAA tournaments.
Smith's crew comes into McCamish with a back court trio of guards that can score the ball. Seniors Gary Blackston and Taishaun Johnson along with junior Gerard Andrus combine to average 37.8 points per game so far this season. Though they are led by their backcourt, the Panthers are not a threat from deep. They currently rank 334th in the nation, shooting 25.5% from three. They are however 50th in nation in three point percentage allowed at 27.7%.
The Panthers are led by junior Devonte Patterson in the paint. An undersized post, Patterson averages 12.8 points and 7 rebounds per game. He is not much of a rim protector, collecting just 2 blocks in four games.
The Jackets and Panthers have three common opponents so far this season. While Tech is 3-0 against Lamar, UTRGV and East Carolina, Prairie View lost to all three squads. Those games are all part of the Panther's current five game losing streak. The first game of that streak was a loss at Baylor, a game in which Prairie View actually hung around, eventually falling 91-80. To date, the Bears are the only power 5 school that the Panthers have faced. It should be noted that the Panthers did play UNC-Greensboro tough in Greensboro, only falling by 8 points.
This is a game that the Yellow Jackets should handle quite easily. It's not a game that I would expect to see Evan Cole, as his presence is most likely unnecessary. My prediction for today is that James Banks has a big day. The transfer big man saw his minutes played jump from 16 to 19 last game and given the energy and rim protection he brings, I think that trend continues. He is currently averaging 16.5 rebounds and 5.5 blocks per 40 minutes played through his first three games.
In light of Prairie View A&M's poor shooting, I would expect Pastner's crew to sag a bit and pack the paint, daring the Panthers to shoot. Missed long shots typically lead to long rebounds which could lead to easy baskets in transition for the Jackets. The line for this game has moved from GT(-14.5) to (-16.5) and back down to (-16). Pastner and the Jackets should cover easily at home.