ATLANTA -- The non-conference schedule takes a definite uptick for Georgia Tech on Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets should be able to use the game against Vanderbilt as a measuring stick for how far they’ve come -- or how much improvement they still need to make.
The Commodores are likely the best team Georgia Tech has played this season. Vanderbilt is 7-2 and coming off an impressive 20-point win over Western Carolina.
“They’re probably the best team we’ve seen so far, and we’ll have to play well for 40 minutes, to be honest with you,” Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said.
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The game will be played at 2 p.m. at McCamish Pavilion. The game will not be televised but will be streamed at www.espn3.com and on the WatchESPN app.
Vanderbilt has an envious mixture of size and shooting. The Commodores feature 7-foot center Luke Kornet (10.7 points, 4.4 rebounds), 6-10 sophomore Damian Jones (17.2 points, 7.2 rebounds) and James Siakam, a 6-7 senior who averages 9.8 points off the bench.
The deep corps of guards features 6-2 sophomore Riley LaChance, who has scored 26 points in back-to-back games.
“They’re extremely talented on offense,” Gregory said. “Jones is a first-round draft pick, and Kornet is a five-man with two-man (shooting ability). That puts our post guys in a tough position.”
Gregory spent practice time Tuesday and Wednesday getting back to basics. He called it a “training camp mentality” and said there were areas that had slipped because the lack of practice.
Georgia Tech has the big players inside to bang with Vanderbilt. DeMarco Cox, the 6-8 senior, was back in double figures with 13 against Appalachian State. But Charles Mitchell, the 6-8 junior, had a miserable shooting night against the Mountaineers, making only 1-of-7 from the floor and scoring just three points, his low for the season.
Cox, Mitchell and forwards Marcus Georges-Hunt and Robert Sampson have been instrumental in helping the Yellow Jackets become one of the best rebounding teams in the conference. They rank third in the ACC and 11th in the nation in rebound margin at plus-10.9.
Hunt, who had 15 points against Appalachian State, leads the Yellow Jackets with 11.4 points, followed by Cox at 10.3.
Georgia Tech (7-2) is completing a home-and-home series with Vanderbilt. The Commodores won last year’s game 76-63 in Nashville, a game the Yellow Jackets led by 14 points at one time.
Vanderbilt leads the series 39-33, and the team’s next win will be the 300th of head coach Kevin Stallings’ career.
Also Saturday, the Georgia Tech football team will be presented with its ACC Coastal Division trophy at halftime of the basketball game. The players are off until after Christmas, when they begin preparation for the Orange Bowl against Mississippi State.