March 27, 2017
New York, N.Y. – Georgia Tech (20-15) will face CSU Bakersfield (25-9) in its first National Invitation Tournament semifinal game in 46 years Tuesday night, March 28, at 7 p.m. at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Yellow Jackets last reached the semifinals in 1971, when the entire NIT was staged at Madison Square Garden, and defeated St. Bonaventure in overtime before falling to North Carolina in the championship game. Tech advanced by defeating Indiana (75-63) and Belmont (71-57) at home before defeating Ole Miss, 74-66, Tuesday night in Oxford, Miss.
CSU Bakersfield is the first No. 8 seed to reach the final four of the NIT. The Roadrunners, which won the regular-season championship of the Western Athletic Conference and earned an automatic bid to the NIT, have won all three of their NIT games on the road to reach the final four. Bakersfield defeated UT Arlington, 80-76, Wednesday night after winning at California (73-66) and Colorado State (81-63).
The other semifinal game will pit a pair of No. 4 seeds in Central Florida (24-11) against TCU (22-15) at 9 p.m. next Tuesday night (ESPN). The Knights advanced by downing Illinois, 68-58, Wednesday night, while the Horned Frogs defeated Richmond, 86-68, on Tuesday.
The semifinal winners will meet for the NIT championship at 8 p.m. Thursday night, March 30, also on ESPN.
The semifinal games and 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.
COACH PASTNER AUDIO
THE STARTING LINEUP
Georgia Tech is playing in the NIT for the ninth time, and has made it to the semifinals 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 three top-100 RPI teams in the NIT – Indiana (79), Belmont (60) and Ole Miss (77). Tech, at No. 106, is the lowest-ranked team in the NIT final four; TCU is No. 67, UCF is No. 69 and CSU Bakersfield is No. 76.
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 has the sixth most efficient defense in the country according to KenPom.com, giving up 90.5 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. Against ACC teams this season, the Jackets ranked No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (40.7 pct.), and No. 3 in scoring defense (68.8 ppg).
CSU Bakersfield ranks No. 16 in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom, ranks No. 3 in two-point field goal percentage defense, and ranks No. 3 in effective field goal percentage defense. In NCAA rankings, the Roadrunners are No. 18 in scoring defense, No. 3 in field goal percentage defense and 12th in steals per game.
Tech is on the verge of setting a new season record for blocked shots in a season. The Jackets’ 208, led by Ben Lammers’ 117, is one shy of 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 73.3 points, is shooting 48.8 percent from the floor and 32.7 percent from three-point range in its three NIT games. The Jackets also have a 61-to-32 assist/turnover ratio and have held their three opponents to 37.7-percent shooting from the floor.
Freshman Josh Okogie is pacing the Yellow Jackets in the NIT, averaging 21.7 points per game (26 vs. Ole Miss) while hitting 53.7 percent of his shots from the floor and 18-of-23 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 20-3 this season when they shoot a better percentage from the floor than their opponent, are 16-0 when scoring 70 points and 19-3 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 nine 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).
— GT Men’s Basketball (@GTMBB) March 27, 2017
TECH’S NIT HISTORY
Georgia Tech has an 13-8 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, 2-5 on the road.
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 appearances in the (post-season) National Invitation Tournament in 1970 and 1971. The Yellow Jackets are 14-7 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. CSU BAKERSFIELD
Georgia Tech and CSU Bakersfield are meeting for the first time in basketball. The Yellow Jackets have played only one current member of the Western Athletic Conference in program history, an 80-73 home loss to Texas-Pan American in 1975.
Tech faced CSU Bakersfield head coach Rod Barnes twice when he was the head coach at Georgia State, winning 72-67 at GSU in the 2007-08 season and 84-64 at home in 2008-09.
The NYC semifinal match-up is the first with Josh Pastner and Barnes as opposing head coaches, but it’s not the first time they’ve been on opposing benches. In the 2001 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in San Antonio, Ole Miss (with Barnes as head coach) faced Arizona (Pastner on Lute Olson’s staff). Arizona won that match-up 66-56 and went on to the NCAA title game. Ole Miss finished season with 27-8 record, the most wins for a season in program history
Tech and the Roadrunners have no common opponents in the 2016-17 season.
— GT Men’s Basketball (@GTMBB) March 27, 2017
— GT Men’s Basketball (@GTMBB) March 27, 2017
TRENDING FROM THE OLE MISS GAME…
Tech won just its third road game of the season, improving to 3-11. The Jackets’ other wins came at VCU on Dec. 7 and NC State on Jan. 15.
Tech led at the half (39-30) for the 18th time this year and improved to 16-2 when doing so. The Jackets have led at intermission in all three NIT games.
Tech improved to 18-0 this season when leading at the 5-minute mark of the second half.
Tech never trailed against Ole Miss, and has trailed for a total of only 7:01 in its three NIT games.
Tech scored 70 or more points for the 16th time this season and remained undefeated when doing so. The Yellow Jackets have scored 70-plus in all three games 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 straight games.
Tech shot 51.9 percent from the floor (better than 50 percent in each half) against Ole MIss. The Yellow Jackets have shot 50 percent only five times all season, and this was the first time they had done it against a power conference opponent.
Tech has connected on 48.8 percent of their shots from the floor in its three NIT games, 52.5 percent in the second half of those games. Tech had connected on just 42.4 percent over its previous four games.
Tech managed to hit just 3-of-15 shots from three-point range 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 had its second- best shooting performance from the free throw line (17-for-20, 85 percent), percentage-wise, of the season. The Jackets hit 17-of-19 (89.5 percent) in its Jan. 12 win over Clemson.
Tech outshot Ole Miss and improved to 20-3 this season when it has a higher field goal percentage than its opponent.
Tech held Ole Miss to 39.7 percent shooting from the floor, nearly three percent beneath its season norm of 42.4 percent. Ole Miss was the 19th opponent Tech has held under 40 percent this season. The Yellow Jackets held Belmont 17 percent below its season norm, and Indiana 10 percentage points beneath its usual, and have yielded just 37 percent from the floor in the NIT. The Yellow Jackets led the ACC in field goal percentage defense in conference games, and have the third-lowest yield (39.5 percent) against all comers.
Tech held the Rebels 12 points under their season average of 78.3 points per game, 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 62 points per game in the NIT.
Ole Miss entered Tuesday’s game connecting on 35.2 percent of its threes and hit 21.4 percent (6-of-28) against the Jackets. The Yellow Jackets have held 14 opponents under 30 percent from beyond the arc this season, and have allowed just 27 percent in three NIT games.
Tech snapped its string of three straight single-digit turnover games, committing 15 against Ole Miss, but allowed just 11 points off those miscues.
Tech forced 13 Ole Miss turnovers and scored 20 points off them. The Yellow Jackets have forced 46 turnovers and capitalized on them for 69 points in three NIT games. Tech forced an average of just 12.8 turnovers in the regular season plus ACC Tournament.
Tech has taken 28 steals in three NIT games (9.3 per game), well above its season average of 6.7 per game.
Tech’s assist-to-turnover ratio in the NIT is 61-to-32, almost 2-to-1.
Ole Miss entered the game as the nation’s leading team in getting to the free throw line (26.2 attempts per game, 75.2 percent), but went just 6-for-8 against the Jackets. Tech ranks 30th nationally in fewest personal fouls per game (13 vs. Ole Miss).
Tech started Josh Heath, Corey Heyward, Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Quinton Stephens for the 16th time this season, and for the 15th time in Tech’s last 16 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 12 games without backup forward Abdoulaye Gueye (fractured wrist).
Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on 21 of 27 made field goals (77.8 percent). The Jackets have 61 assists on 80 field goals in its three NIT games combined (76.3 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 17-of-20 free throws to Ole Miss’ 6-of-8 (goal of making more than opponent tries accomplished). Tech is 44-of-62 (71 percent) in three NIT games, compared to 24-of-31 for its opponents.
Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech’s guards combined for 15 of Tech’s 27 defensive rebounds, 85 of 182 in Tech’s last five games.
Josh Okogie scored a game-high 26 points (8-17 FG, 9-10 FT), his 30th double-digit game this year and his eighth game of 20 or more. Okogie has reached double figures in 14 straight games, last failing to do so vs. Notre Dame on Jan. 28
Okogie is averaging a team-high 16.1 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.
In three NIT games, Okogie is averaging a team-high 21.7 points, 53.7 percent from the floor and 78.3 percent from the foul line. He also has averaged 7.3 rebounds and has 11 assists against three turnovers.
Okogie surpassed 500 points for the season against Indiana, and now has 562. The only other freshmen in Tech history to score 500 or more points were Kenny Anderson (721 in 35 games), Stephon Marbury (679 in 36 games) and Mark Price (568 in 28 games).
Okogie added seven rebounds and two assists with just one turnover in 39 minutes.
Ben Lammers scored 20 points and reached that mark for the seventh time this season. It was his 30th double-figure scoring game this season. Lammers hit 9-of-11 shots from the floor to improve his season percentage to 52.3, added four assists and matched his career high in steals with four.
Lammers blocked eight shots against Ole Miss, the third time this season he has swatted that many or more. He had eight against Virginia Tech and nine early in the season against Southern. He has 117 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 3.34 blocks per game, which ranks No. 3 nationally and leads the ACC. He also holds sixth place at Tech in career blocks with 168.
Lammers played the full 40 minutes for the fifth time this season, all occurring in Tech’s last 15 games. He is the first Tech player to play the full 40 in as many as five games in a season since Matt Harpring logged five 40-minute games in the 1996-97 season. Until Marcus Georges-Hunt played 40 minutes vs. Notre Dame on 2/20/2016, no one had done so since the 1998-99 season. Lammers and Quinton Stephens have combined for nine 40-minute games this season.
Lammers is averaging 15.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in NIT games, and has hit 18-of-28 from the floor (64.3 percent).
Quinton Stephens scored 10 points (4-7 FG) with seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in 34 minutes, limited due to first-half foul trouble. Stephens has averaged 16.3 points in the NIT, connecting on 20-of-33 shots from the floor (60.6 percent), 9-of-19 on threes (47.4 percent), and 8.0 rebounds per game. He has returned to averaging double-figures for the season at 10.5 points per game. It was his 21st double-digit scoring game of the year. The senior forward added four assists and two steals with no turnovers in 36 minutes.
Stephens played in the 133rd game of his career, which is a Tech record. He broke the previous mark of 130 when he stepped on the floor for the Indiana game. The previous record was shared by Malcolm Mackey (1990-93), Marvin Lewis (2001-04), Anthony McHenry (2002-05) and Marcus Georges-Hunt (2013-16).
Tadric Jackson scored eight points (3-of-10 from the floor), ending a streak of four straight double-figure games. He has 11 in Tech’s last 15 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 13.0 points in the NIT, had four assists against Ole Miss in 29 minutes.
Josh Heath put together his most complete game since Feb. 28 vs. Pittsburgh, scoring five points with seven assists, six rebounds and two steals, limited to 30 minutes with first-half foul trouble.
Corey Heyward has one turnover in 20 minutes, and has committed just five turnovers in 267 minutes over his last 16 games. He has played 23 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.
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