In beating John Calipari, small piece of history for Josh Pastner

Georgia Tech’s 79-62 win over No. 20 Kentucky on Sunday was impressive for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that it followed the Yellow Jackets losing their first two games to Georgia State and Mercer, the latter by an 83-73 count in a game in which the Bears led by as many as 19.

But Tech’s win also stopped two longstanding streaks, both of which have a connection with Kentucky coach John Calipari.

First, Tech coach Josh Pastner became the first former Calipari assistant to defeat him head-to-head. Until Sunday, former Calipari assistants were 0-17 against him, including Tech’s loss at Kentucky last season. (As head coaches, they have not made much of a mark. To the degree that Pastner can be counted as part of Calipari’s coaching tree — he was on Calipari’s staff for one season at Memphis, in 2008-09 — he is by far the most successful. Only one other former Calipari assistant — Tony Barbee — became a head coach at a power-conference school, according to, and he was 49-75 at Auburn in four seasons before getting fired in 2014.)

Credit: ACC

The Yellow Jackets flummoxed No. 20 Kentucky in a 79-62 win in the Holiday Hoopsgiving at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

Second, the Jackets’ win was the team’s first over a non-conference opponent ranked in the top 25 since December 2006. Tech had lost 12 consecutive games since then to non-conference top-25 teams, including three under Pastner’s watch: No. 21 UCLA in November 2017 in Shanghai; No. 5 Tennessee in November 2018 in Knoxville, Tenn.; and No. 8 Kentucky in December 2019 in Lexington, Ky.)

The last ranked non-conference team that the Jackets beat was No. 12 Memphis in November 2006 in the Maui Invitational. The coach of that team was none other than Calipari. (Pastner was not yet on his staff at that point.)