Josh Heath 6'2" Junior 4.0 PPG 1.4 RPG 4.4 APG
James Robinson 6'3" Senior 10.2 PPG 2.8 RPG 5.2 APG
Josh Heath is the starting point guard for Georgia Tech, just about in name only. He is a pretty light scorer for the Yellow Jackets as he has only notched double-figure scoring twice this season. Heath has made a grand total of three shots behind the arc this season, also evidence to his low scoring average. Heath also only plays in the neighborhood of 20 minutes a game, as Tech will play long stretches without him. So he is the starter, but they rotate this spot a good bit.
James Robinson has really picked up his play this season. His assist to turnover ratio is always fantastic, but his turnovers are even down this season - if that's even possible. Robinson's shooting percentages are better, including from three-point land. He's running the show exactly how you would want a four-year starter to run it. He had two modest performances last week, but I look for him to become a bigger factor with conference play upon us.
Adam Smith 6'1" Senior 13.6 PPG 1.7 APG 2.3 RPG
Sterling Smith 6'4" Senior 6.8 PPG 1.8 APG 4.1 RPG
Adam Smith is coming off a 20 point showing against North Carolina, which was a season high for him. He made six three pointers in that game, and that's exactly what he is looking to do. Smith is a 45% shooter from behind the arc on the year, and it will be imperative for the Panthers to slow down his looks from the outside. He is on the small side for an off-guard, and Pitt's bigger guards need to make it difficult for him to get shots off on offense.
Sterling Smith has been a nice addition to this Panthers team. He has shown the ability to play fairly good defense, and he is strong rebounding guard. His shooting comes and goes, but there are nights where he can knock down 4 or 5 three point shots and really make his mark on the offense. Smith drilled three in Pitt's last game, and it gives this offense an extra element in the starting lineup if he is scoring.
Marcus Georges-Hunt 6'5" Senior 15.3 PPG 1.9 APG 3.4 RPG
Jamel Artis 6'7" Junior 15.6 PPG 3.4 APG 4.5 RPG
Marcus Georges-Hunt is Georgia Tech's leading scorer, and he is the key to their whole team. He is a four year double figure scorer, and is easily one of the more under-appreciated players in the conference. Georges-Hunt is a very consistent player, and gets his points driving and knifing the lane. He was a spotty three-point shooter last season, but he has definitely improved this season. Still, a lot of his game will come off the bounce, and defending him is definitely going to be difficult for the Pitt wings.
Jamel Artis is starting to get into his groove. We saw it last year when Artis sort of put the team on his back and just played at an insanely high level. After a poor showing in the game with Davidson, Artis has averaged 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists the past three time out, including a near triple double against Syracuse. The junior from Baltimore is a very good player overall, but limiting turnovers and staying out of foul troubles are the keys with him. Nobody on Georgia Tech can check him on offense, the concern will be him trying to guard a more athletic player on defense for him.
Nick Jacobs 6'8" Senior 9.9 PPG 5.6 RPG
Michael Young 6'9" Junior 16.9 PPG 7.4 RPG 2.9 APG
After sitting out last season due to transferring from Alabama, Jacobs has made a very positive impact for his new team. Jacobs is a large presence down low, and gives Georgia Tech a strong, veteran 1-2 presence inside. Still, it should be noted that he was a more reliable scoring option earlier in the season, but has only hit double figures once in his last four games, and that was against Duquesne.
Michael Young has had a very productive season to this point. The junior forward has increased his averages across the board - scoring, rebounding, assists, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage. I mean there is not one part of Young's game that did not get better over the off season, and that's saying a lot because he was pretty good as a sophomore. Young takes on more responsibility than most of the Pitt team, as he will slide back and forth from the power forward and center spot throughout the game. He has a tough task going up against a physical Georgia Tech front line, but it won't be anything he hasn't seen in his career.
Charles Mitchell 6'8" Senior 12.9 PPG 11.2 RPG
Rafael Maia 6'9" Senior 2.9 PPG 4.2 RPG
There is not much of a physical difference between Mitchell and fellow post starter, Nick Jacobs. Both players are big bodies and can be interchangeable inside. Mitchell is the more skilled of the two, and his interior scoring will present challenges for Pitt. The Panthers have a talented front-line, but not a particularly big one. Pitt plays a physical game, but that won't scare a guy like Mitchell away by any means. Mitchell is a double-double machine, and went for 10 and 9 last year against the Panthers. He can be prone to foul trouble, as he was disqualified against North Carolina in their last game. Pitt needs to go at him early, and force him into some fouls and keep him off the glass.
Rafael Maia is sort of a glue guy, and is there to give this team 15 minutes a game. He won't be looked upon to score, and he hasn't done much of it this season. He rebounds well, handles his own on defense, and has a nice knack for getting his hands on passes by deflecting and stealing them. Maia is a smart player, and as the cliche goes, he plays within himself. He knows what he is, and so do the coaches. Maia will be looked upon to battle in the post with the big Tech front line.
Georgia Tech will go ten deep tonight. The Yellow Jackets have in every game to this point, and I would have to assume that trend continues. Of late, 6'10" sophomore Ben Lammers has given them good minutes and production. He adds to an already strong front line. Tadric Jackson and Travis Jorgenson help fill the role at point guard. I mentioned above that the starter, Heath, usually only plays about 20 minutes, and these two compete for time behind him. James White is another player they can turn for post depth. Quinton Stephens should be their true sixth man, but he has only scored 10 points in his last five games. They have a lot of depth options, but their real talent and production comes from the first five.
Unlike Georgia Tech's bench, Pitt really looks for big production from their second unit. Sheldon Jeter has come on very strong lately, including a monster performance in the closing minutes of the Syracuse win. Jeter has had some highlight reel dunks this season, and he's a guy that gets the crowd and team going with his play. Chris Jones is one of the team's top scorers, and actually averages more than starter Sterling Smith. Cameron Johnson and Damon Wilson have done some good things at times, but others they look like freshman. I'm looking for Wilson to break out one of these days and have a big game. Nelson-Ododa and Luther should see some minutes in this game, but not for an extended period time I would not think.