No breaks for Georgia Tech with No. 9 Louisville next (Jan 07, 2017)

ATLANTA — Things don’t get any easier for the Georgia Tech basketball team on Saturday.

Not only do they face another ranked team in No. 9 Louisville — the third straight top-10 opponent faced by the Yellow Jackets — but they also face a team that’s somewhat desperate after opening the ACC with two conference losses.

Georgia Tech (9-5, 1-1 ACC) will play Louisville (12-3, 0-2 ACC) at 2 p.m. on Saturday at McCamish Pavilion.

The Yellow Jackets, who upset North Carolina three days earlier, were hammered by No. 8 Duke 110-57 in a perfect storm scenario on Wednesday. Duke was coming off a loss in its season opener, it was playing its final game under surgery-bound coach Mike Krzyzewski for at least a month and it welcomed back guard Grayson Allen from a suspension.

“I don’t know who would have beaten them,” Pastner said. “I didn’t matter who there were going to play that night. We just hit them on a perfect storm and we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The 53-point loss was the fifth-largest margin in an ACC game. Georgia Tech’s worst all-time loss came against Georgia in 1909, a 78-9 Bulldogs win.

The loss was the first game in which Georgia Tech center Ben Lammers (14.2 points. 9.9 rebounds) has not scored in double figures. Freshman Josh Okogie, who had 26 points against North Carolina and averages 14 per game, had only 11 against Duke.

Louisville will be another fierce challenge. Although the Cardinals have lost their first two conference game to Virginia and Notre Dame, they have wins over Kentucky and Indiana.

The Cardinals are led by sophomore Donovan Mitchell (12.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.3 steals), junior Quentin Snider (11.3 points, 3.6 assists) and sophomore Deng Adel (10.7 points, 4.5 rebounds).

“It’s a must-win game Saturday,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. “We’ve got to get wins. We can’t lose any more games at home.”

Pitino said his team played well enough to beat Notre Dame earlier this week but wasted a nice comeback in a 77-70 loss. The Cardinals had a few breakdowns that allowed the Fighting Irish to keep getting to the free throw line and outscore them 9-2 in the final two minutes.

“It’s little defensive things that keeping us from getting over the hump,” Pitino said.

The game could be a defensive battle. Before the Duke game, Georgia Tech had allowed more than 70 points only three times. The Yellow Jackets allow 68.1 points and allow 39.9 percent from the field. Louisville allows 61.5 points and 37.2 percent shooting from the field.

“When you play a team with a sense of desperation, you’ve got to be more desperate,” Pastner said. “We’ve got to get on the floor and compete. We can never forget this a major rebuild job and this is year one. Let’s keep seeing if we can undersell and overperform.”

Louisville has won the last five meetings against Georgia Tech and leads the series 18-13. The Cardinals won both games last season, by four points in Atlanta and by three points on Senior Day at Louisville.

Despite expected ice and snow in the Atlanta area, the game is expected to go on as scheduled.

In 2014, a game against North Carolina was played under similar circumstances and forced cancellation of an ESPN2 telecast because the production crew could not reach McCamish Pavilion. That same season, Georgia Tech and Boston College delayed its game by a day because of weather.