Georgia Tech Basketball Faces TCU for NIT Championship

March 29, 2017

Complete Game Notes  | NIT teleconference transcript from Wednesday | Watch live online | Above the rim cameras

New York, N.Y. – Georgia Tech (21-15) will face TCU (23-15) in its first National Invitation Tournament championship game in 46 years Thursday night, March 30, at 8 p.m. at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The Yellow Jackets, the No. 6 seed in the Syracuse bracket, last reached the finals in 1971, when the entire NIT was staged at Madison Square Garden. Georgia Tech fell to North Carolina, 84-64, in the championship game. Tech advanced to the final by defeating Indiana (75-63) and Belmont (71-57) at home before eliminating Ole Miss, 74-66, on the road on March 21, and then downed CSU Bakersfield, 76-61, Tuesday night in New York. The Jackets went 8-10 in the ACC this season, finishing 11th.

TCU, the No. 4 seed in the Iowa bracket, has reached the NIT finals for the first time in seven appearances, having advanced by beating Fresno State at home, 66-59, the Hawkeyes on the road, 94-92, and Richmond at home, 86-68, before eliminating UCF, 68-53, at the Garden on Tuesday night. The Horned Frogs went 6-12 this season in the Big 12, tying for seventh place.

The championship game will be televised nationally on ESPN. Live streaming is available on the WatchESPN app. Radio coverage of Tech’s games is provided by Tech’s flagship station, 680 the Fan (680 AM/93.7 FM), and can be heard nationally on the Westwood One Radio Network, available on SiriusXM channel 84.

Day 4️⃣: Final full practice of the season, 1️⃣ more game to go! #ATL2NYC 🍎🏀🐝 pic.twitter.com/HhC80V64nd

— GT Men's Basketball (@GTMBB) March 29, 2017

THE STARTING LINEUP

• Georgia Tech is playing in the NIT for the ninth time, and has made it to the finals for the first time since 1971, when the Yellow Jackets lost to North Carolina in the championship game. This is the 25th post-season appearance overall in program history.

• Tech’s last trip to play in Madison Square Garden occurred in November of 2003. That season, the Yellow Jackets knocked off top-ranked Connecticut and No. 25 Texas Tech to win the Pre-Season NIT at the Garden, helping propel Tech to a 12-0 start and an eventual berth in the national championship game against UConn.

• Tech has defeated four top-100 RPI teams in the NIT – Indiana (79), Belmont (60), Ole Miss (77) and CSU Bakersfield (76). TCU is No. 67, and Tech, at No. 106, is the lowest-ranked team in the NIT final four.

• Tech has won 20 games for the second straight year and for the 16th time in program history. Only six of those have come in the last 20 years. Tech has not had back-to-back 20-win seasons since 2003-04 and 2004-05.

• Tech’s 21 wins with head coach Josh Pastner represent the most for a first-year head coach in Tech history. The previous high was 17 under Paul Hewitt in 2000-01 and Roy Mundorff in 1926-27.

• Tech has the sixth most efficient defense in the country according to KenPom.com, giving up 90.4 points per 100 possessions. The Yellow Jackets are the highest-ranked team in the nation in that category not playing in the NCAA Tournament. Tech ranks 13th nationally in field goal percentage defense, 47th in scoring defense and No. 5 in blocked shots per game. The Jackets rank No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (39.4 pct.), and No. 4 in scoring defense (66.2 ppg).

• Tech set a new season record for blocked shots in a season Tuesday night with eight against CSU Bakersfield. The Jackets now have 216, led by Ben Lammers’ 122, beats the mark of 209 set by the 1997-98 team, which was led by Alvin Jones’ school-record 141.

• Tech managed to win eight ACC games this year and reach the post-season despite ranking 14th in the ACC in scoring, 15th in field goal percentage and three-point percentage, and 14th in free throw percentage. The Jackets rank No. 267 in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com.

• Tech has averaged 74.0 points, is shooting 47.3 percent from the floor and 32.3 percent from three-point range in its four NIT games. The Jackets also have a 77-to-39 assist/turnover ratio and have held their three opponents to 36.5-percent shooting from the floor.

• Freshman Josh Okogie is pacing the Yellow Jackets in the NIT, averaging 21.8 points per game (26 vs. Ole Miss, 22 vs. CSU Bakersfield) while hitting 49.2 percent of his shots from the floor and 25-of-32 from the free throw line.

Ben Lammers’ +10.8 per game scoring average increase over the 2015-16 season is the third-best in the ACC, behind John Collins of Wake Forest and Matt Farrell of Notre Dame. But Tadric Jackson (+7.2), Quinton Stephens (+5.5) and Josh Heath (+2.9) have more than doubled their scoring outputs over last season.

• Three keys for Tech to win – The Jackets are 21-3 this season when they shoot a better percentage from the floor than their opponent, are 17-0 when scoring 70 points and 20-3 when attempting more free throws than the opponent.

• Georgia Tech is 4-4 against teams in the top 25 of CBSSports.com’s RPI rankings as of Monday, and have beaten 10 top-100 teams this season.

• With its first two NIT victories at home, the Yellow Jackets established a new program record for home wins in a season (17-4). The 2006-07 team went 16-1 at home.

• Georgia Tech has defeated three AP top-25 teams this season (No. 9 North Carolina, No. 6 Florida State, No. 14 Notre Dame), the most in one season for the program since the Yellow Jackets went 4-3 vs. top-25 teams in 2003-04. Tech has beaten as many as three top-25 teams in one season six times prior to this season.

• Tech has beaten two AP top-10 teams this season — No. 9 North Carolina and No. 6 Florida State — the first time the Yellow Jackets have beaten multiple top-10 teams in the same season since 2004-05 (No. 5 Wake Forest in the regular season and No. 2 North Carolina in the ACC Tournament). It is the first time since 2003-04 that the Jackets have beaten multiple top-10 teams in the regular season (No. 1 Connecticut, No. 10 Wake Forest, No. 3 Duke). It is the 18th time in program history that Tech has defeated multiple top-10 teams in the same season.

• Tech was one of two teams to finish the regular season with a winning record (3-2) against the top four seeds in the ACC Tournament (Virginia is the other).

Joining us at @TheGarden tomorrow night? #ATL2NYC

Buy your tickets in Georgia Tech section: https://t.co/HYPgHYieLA

Promo Code: GTALUM pic.twitter.com/4IMkpwRjpT

— GT Men’s Basketball (@GTMBB) March 29, 2017

TECH’S NIT HISTORY

Georgia Tech has an 14-8 record all-time in nine appearances in the National Invitation Tournament, reaching the finals once (1971) and the quarterfinals four other times. The Yellow Jackets are 6-1 in post-season NIT games at home, 2-6 on the road, 5-2 at Madison Square Garden.

• Tech last reached the final four of the NIT in 1971 behind its all-time leading scorer, Rich Yunkus, defeating LaSalle, Michigan and St. Bonaventure in double-overtime) before losing to North Carolina in the championship game. The entire tournament was played at Madison Square Garden in those days, and only conference champions made the NCAA Tournament field.

• Tech reached the quarterfinals three times in its last four NIT appearances before this season, coming up one win short of playing in New York. Last season, the Yellow Jackets reached the quarterfinals by defeating Houston at home, 81-62, and South Carolina on the road, 83-66, before falling to San Diego State on the road, 72-56.

• The Jackets’ 2002-03 team, when current NBA stars Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack were freshmen on a team that also included B.J. Elder, Tech’s 12th all-time leading scorer and Marvin Lewis, No. 21 on the all-time scoring list, defeated Ohio State at home and Iowa on the road before an 80-72 loss to a Bob Knight-coached Texas Tech team in Lubbock.

• Tech also made the quarterfinals in 1998 with a team led by No. 2 all-time leading scorer Matt Harpring, defeating Seton Hall and Georgetown before losing to Penn State, 75-70. All three games were played at home.

TECH AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN

Georgia Tech is making its 11th trip to Madison Square Garden, which includes two previous appearances in the (post-season) National Invitation Tournament in 1970 and 1971. The Yellow Jackets are 15-7 all-time in the “World’s Most Famous Arena.”

Tech has also played in three Pre-Season NIT tournaments (1991, 1995, 2003), four Holiday Festivals (1986, 1993, 1996, 1998), and a single game against Iona in 1989.

On Tech’s last trip to the Garden in November of 2003, the Yellow Jackets knocked off top-ranked Connecticut and No. 25 Texas Tech to win the Pre-Season NIT, helping propel Tech to a 12-0 start and an eventual berth in the national championship game against UConn.

SERIES NOTES VS. TCU

• Georgia Tech and TCU are playing for the first time since the mid-1960s, when the Yellow Jackets and Horned Frogs played twice in the space of three seasons, both games at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta.

• Tech defeated TCU, 112-87, on Dec. 1, 1965, and 70-67 two years later on Dec. 21, 1967.

• Tech coach Josh Pastner has never faced Jamie Dixon as opposing head coaches, and never faced TCU while the head coach at Memphis. The Yellow Jackets, however, went 1-3 against Pittsburgh with Dixon as the head man.

• Tech and TCU have one common opponent in the 2016-17 season – Wofford. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Terriers at home, 76-72, on Dec. 22. The Horned Frogs downed Wofford, 72-63, also at home, on Dec. 10.

Tuesday night #NIT semifinal victory = Wednesday morning omelets 🍳 pic.twitter.com/N5Sp2S9VD0

— GT Men’s Basketball (@GTMBB) March 29, 2017

TRENDING FROM THE CSUB GAME…

• Georgia Tech improved its all-time record in the NIT to 14-8 and has advanced to the finals for the first time since 1971, when the entire NIT was played at Madison Square Garden. That year, the Yellow Jackets lost to North Carolina, 84-64, in the championship game.

• Georgia Tech improved its all-time record in Madison Square Garden to 15-7.

• Tech has reached the 20-win plateau for the second straight year and for the 16th time in program history. Only six of those have come in the last 20 years. Tech has not had back-to-back 20-win seasons since 2003-04 and 2004-05.

• Tech’s 20 wins represent the most for a first-year head coach in Tech history. The previous high was 17 under Paul Hewitt in 2000-01 and Roy Mundorff in 1926-27.

• Tech won just its third road game of the season in the NIT quarterfinals at Ole Miss, improving to 3-11. The Jackets’ other wins came at VCU on Dec. 7 and NC State on Jan. 15.

• With its first two NIT victories at home, the Yellow Jackets established a new program record for home wins in a season (17-4). The 2006-07 team went 16-1 at home.

• Tech led at the half (36-26) for the 19th time this year and improved to 17-2 when doing so. The Jackets have led at intermission in all four NIT games.

• Tech improved to 19-0 this season when leading at the 5-minute mark of the second half.

• Tech never trailed against CSU Bakersfield, and has trailed for a total of only 7:01 in its four NIT games.

• Tech scored 70 or more points for the 17th time this season and remained undefeated when doing so. The Yellow Jackets have scored 70-plus for the fourth straight game in the NIT after averaging just 60.3 points over its previous four games. It is the first time this season Tech has scored 70 or more in three or more straight games.

• Tech has connected on 47.3 percent of its shots from the floor in its four NIT games. Tech had connected on just 42.4 percent over its previous four games.

• Tech’s 76 points was nearly 14 above what the Roadrunners have yielded per game this year, and its 43.3 percent from the floor was six percent above CSUB’s average yield. The Roadrunners came into the game ranked 18th nationally in scoring defense and No. 3 in field goal percentage defense.

• Tech has hit just 8-of-31 shots from three-point range against Ole Miss and CSU Bakersfield combined after connecting on 13-of-34 in its first two NIT games. The Jackets rank last in the ACC in three-point shooting, and had made only 22.4 percent over its four games before the NIT.

• Tech made 19-of-26 from the free throw line and is 36-for-46 (78.3 percent) over its last two games. Tech has connected on 71.6 percent from the stripe in the NIT.

• Tech outshot CSU Bakersfield and improved to 21-3 this season when it has a higher field goal percentage than its opponent.

• Tech held CSU Bakersfield to 35-percent shooting from the floor, more than nine percent beneath its season norm of 44.2 percent. CSUB was the 20th opponent Tech has held under 40 percent this season. The Yellow Jackets have yielded just 36.5 percent from the floor in the NIT. The Yellow Jackets lead the ACC in field goal percentage defense, in all games and against conference foes.

• Tech held the Roadrunners 10 points under their season average of 71.8 points per game, held Ole Miss 12 points under its season norm of 75, held Belmont 20 points under its usual rate of 77.3 (57), and held Indiana 17 under its norm of 80.3 (63). Tech has allowed just 61.8 points per game in the NIT.

• CSU Bakersfield entered Tuesday’s game connecting on 50.8 percent (30-of-59) percent of its threes in the NIT, but hit 34.8 percent (8-of-23) against the Jackets. The Yellow Jackets have held 14 opponents under 30 percent from beyond the arc this season, and have allowed just 29.1 percent in four NIT games.

• Tech matched its season low for turnovers with seven, and has stayed under 10 in four of its last five games. The Jackets have committed just 9.8 turnovers on average in four NIT games, compared to its season norm of 13.3.

• Tech forced 15 Bakersfield turnovers and scored 18 points off them. The Yellow Jackets have forced 61 turnovers (15.3 per game) in the NIT and capitalized on them for 87 points. Tech forced an average of just 12.8 turnovers in the regular season plus ACC Tournament.

• Tech has taken 34 steals in three NIT games (8.5 per game), well above its season average of 6.7 per game.

• Tech’s assist-to-turnover ratio in the NIT is 77-to-39, almost 2-to-1.

• Tech started Josh Heath, Corey Heyward, Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Quinton Stephens for the 17th time this season, and for the 16th time in Tech’s last 17 games. Tadric Jackson started Tech’s game against Pitt in the ACC Tournament in place of Heyward. Three Yellow Jackets — Lammers, Okogie and Stephens — have started every game this season.

• Tech has played its last 13 games without backup forward Abdoulaye Gueye (fractured wrist).

Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on 16 of 26 made field goals (61.5 percent). The Jackets have 77 assists on 106 field goals in their four NIT games combined (72.6 percent). It has improved Tech’s season rate to 62.7 percent, (Tech has a 63.2 percent rate in ACC games).

Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents’ attempts): Tech made 19-of-26 free throws to CSU Bakersfield’s 11-of-14 (goal of making more than opponent tries accomplished). Tech is 63-of-88 (71.6 percent) in four NIT games, compared to 35-of-45 for its opponents.

Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech’s guards combined for 10 of Tech’s 28 defensive rebounds, 95 of 210 in Tech’s last six games.

PLAYER UPDATES

Josh Okogie scored a game-high 22 points (7-18 FG, 7-9 FT), his 31st double-digit game this year and his ninth game of 20 or more. Okogie has reached double figures in 15 straight games, last failing to do so vs. Notre Dame on Jan. 28. He is averaging a team-high 16.2 points per game, and is Tech’s highest-scoring freshman since Dion Glover (18.4 ppg) in 2002-03. Only six times in Tech history has a freshman led the Jackets in scoring.

• Okogie missed a double-double by one rebound (he has three this season). He also went 7-for-9 from the free throw line and ranks third in the ACC this season in free throw attempts per game (6.6).

• In four NIT games, Okogie is averaging a team-high 21.8 points, 49.2 percent from the floor and 78.1 percent from the foul line. He also has averaged 7.8 rebounds and has 13 assists against four turnovers.

• Okogie surpassed 500 points for the season against Indiana, and now has 584. The only other freshmen in Tech history to score more points were Kenny Anderson (721 in 35 games) and Stephon Marbury (679 in 36 games).

Ben Lammers posted his 16th double-double this season with 15 points and 11 rebounds against CSU Bakersfield. It was his 31st double-figure scoring game this season. Lammers hit 6-of-8 shots from the floor, improving his season percentage to 52.7, and has made 66.7 percent in the NIT.

• Lammers blocked five shots against CSU Bakersfield, the ninth time this season he has swatted five or more. He has 122 blocks for the season, the second-highest season total ever for a Tech player. Alvin Jones holds the Tech season record with 141 in 1997-98. Lammers is averaging 3.39 blocks per game, which ranks No. 3 nationally and leads the ACC. He also holds sixth place at Tech in career blocks with 173.

• Lammers is averaging 15.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in NIT games, and has hit 24-of-36 from the floor (66.7 percent).

Quinton Stephens scored 13 points with nine rebounds, just missing his eight double-double of the season, He added three assists and a pair of threes in 36 minutes. It was his 22nd scoring game of the year. Stephens has averaged 15.5 points in the NIT, connecting on 24-of-45 shots from the floor (53.3 percent), 11-of-26 on threes (42.3 percent), and 8.3 rebounds per game. He has returned to averaging double-figures for the season at 10.5 points per game.

• Stephens played in the 134th game of his career, which is a Tech record, and further distanced himself from the previous mark of 130, shared by Malcolm Mackey (1990-93), Marvin Lewis (2001-04), Anthony McHenry (2002-05) and Marcus Georges-Hunt (2013-16). Stephens broke the mark when he set foot on the floor for the Indiana game.

Tadric Jackson scored 12 points (4-of-8 from the floor) against Bakersfield, his 12th double-digit games in Tech’s last 16 games. The junior guard is Tech’s third leading scorer (11.9 ppg), and is bidding to finish the season as the fourth reserve in Tech history to average in double figures. Jackson, averaging 12.8 points in the NIT, had three assists with no turnovers in 22 minutes.

• For the second time this year, Jackson canned a three-point shot from deep range at the halftime buzzer. He also did it on Feb. 19 against Syracuse at McCamish Pavilion. Corey Heyward drained a three from three-quarters court at the halftime horn at VCU on Dec. 7.

• Freshman Justin Moore scored eight points, his highest scoring game since getting 10 at Virginia on Jan. 21. Moore went 3-for-6 from the floor and 2-for-2 from the free throw line, and played 14 minutes, his most in the NIT.

Corey Heyward played 23 turnover-free minutes, and has committed just five turnovers in 290 minutes over his last 17 games. He has played 24 turnover-free games this season.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its first year under head coach Josh Pastner. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won three ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993), played in the NCAA Tournament 16 times and played in two Final Fours (1990, 2004). Connect with Georgia Tech Men’s Basketball on social media by liking their Facebook Page, or following on Twitter (@GTMBB) and Instagram.

For more information on Tech basketball, visit here.

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