@GTMBB Opens NIT at Home vs. Houston

March 13, 2016

THE FLATS – Georgia Tech (19-14) has received a bid to play in the National Invitation Tournament, drawing a No. 4 seed, and will face fifth-seeded Houston (22-9) of the American Athletic Conference in the opening round of the tournament at 9 p.m. Wednesday night at McCamish Pavilion. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2.

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This is the 24th post-season appearance in Georgia Tech’s basketball history, and the eighth appearance for the Yellow Jackets in the NIT. Houston finished third in the American Athletic Conference regular-season with a 12-6 record and went 1-1 in the conference tournament. Tech has won both prior meetings against the Cougars, most recently in the 1992 NCAA Tournament.

Tech is in the South Carolina/San Diego State quadrant along with the No. 1-seeded Gamecocks (24-8) of the Southeastern Conference, who will open against High Point (21-10) of the Big South Conference. The Tech-Houston winner would face the South Carolina-High Point winner in the second round. Washington (18-14), Long Beach State (20-14), San Diego State (25-9) and IPFW (24-9) also are in the South Carolina/San Diego State quadrant.

The Yellow Jackets have compiled a 19-14 overall record this season, the most wins by a Tech team since the 2009-10 season, and went 8-10 in the ACC, only the 15th team to win as many conference games in the program’s 37-year history in the league. One more win would make this team the 15th in program history to win 20 games, and only the fourth since 1996.

“I’m excited for our team and our seniors and to be able to continue our season with the NIT,” said Tech coach Brian Gregory, whose Dayton teams played in the NIT three times and won the 2010 championship. “There are only about 50 teams that receive an at-large bid into either the NCAA or NIT each year, so I feel good about the things we accomplished this year, and we feel we can accomplish more. We fell short of our goal of playing in the NCAA, but this is a good step for our program. One index has us playing the fourth toughest schedule in the country, and to have 19 wins against that schedule is a good accomplishment for this program. Now we can continue to make progress on the court and advance in the NIT. I’m thrilled we get to play another home game for our seniors. We’ve won four in a row, and I’m excited they get to play in front of our home fans again.”

Tech has achieved this against a schedule rated the fourth-strongest in the nation by ESPN’s BPI rankings, and No. 21 by CBSSports.com RPI ratings. The Yellow Jackets have played five games against the top 10 in the RPI, won five games against top-100 RPI teams (Virginia VCU, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Florida State) and lost only one against a team outside the top 100 (East Tennessee State, which is 23-13 and went 14-4 to finish second in the Southern Conference).

The Jackets enter the NIT having won six of its last eight games, including an 88-85 overtime decision against Clemson in the ACC Tournament. Over its last six regular season games, Tech defeated Florida State, No. 19 Notre Dame, Clemson, Boston College and Pittsburgh, and lost only to No. 11 Louisville, on the road by three.

Tech is led by five senior players among its regular rotation, including second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference guard Marcus Georges-Hunt, who ranks among the top 10 players in the ACC in scoring (16.7 points per game) and free throw shooting (82.2 percent on 236 attempts). The 6-5 College Park, Ga., native also is Tech’s assist leader (3.12 per game) and has hit 45.1 percent of his field goal tries.

Adam Smith, a 6-2 senior guard from Jonesboro, Ga., averages 14.9 points per game, leads the ACC in three-point field goals per game (3.06) and ranked seventh in percentage (41.6). Nick Jacobs, a 6-8 senior from Atlanta averaging 10.6 points and 5.8 rebounds, and Charles Mitchell, a 6-8 senior from Atlanta averaging 9.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, give the Yellow Jackets a formidable presence in the post.

The 32-team field features 22 teams with at least 20 wins, a record 15 automatic qualifiers and representation from 24 of the 32 Division I conferences.

First round play is scheduled for Tuesday, March 15 and Wednesday, March 16, with the second round running March 17-21. Quarterfinals will be held on March 22 and 23 and four teams will advance to New York City for the semifinals on Tuesday, March 29. The NIT will conclude with the Championship game on Thursday, March 31. The semifinal and championship games will be played at New York’s historic Madison Square Garden for the 79th year.

First round action, on campus sites, features number one seeds Monmouth, St. Bonaventure, South Carolina, and Valparaiso hosting Bucknell, Wagner, High Point and Texas Southern respectively.

Other first round games include UAB at Brigham Young, IPFW at San Diego State, Florida at North Florida, New Mexico State at St. Mary’s (California), Princeton at Virginia Tech, Long Beach State at Washington, Akron at Ohio State, Belmont at Georgia, Alabama at Creighton, Hofstra at George Washington, and Davidson at Florida State.

NIT games are being televised by ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3.

TECH’S NIT HISTORY

Georgia Tech has an 8-7 record all-time in seven appearances in the National Invitation Tournament, reaching the finals once (1971) and the quarterfinals three other times. The Yellow Jackets are 3-1 in post-season NIT games at home.

• Tech’s last appearance in the NIT occurred in 2003, 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. That team defeated Ohio State at home and Iowa on the road before falling a game short of going to New York in an 80-72 loss to a Bob Knight-coached Texas Tech team.

• 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 reached the finals in 1971 behind its all-time leading scorer, Rich Yunkus, defeating LaSalle, Michigan and St. Bonaventure before losing to North Carolina in the championship game. The entire tournament was played at Madison Square Garden in those days.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL

Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its fifth year under head coach Brian Gregory. The Yellow Jackets have 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).

For more information on Tech basketball, visit Ramblinwreck.com. Tickets for men’s basketball can be purchased here.

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