March 13, 2017
THE FLATS – Georgia Tech has earned a bid to the National Invitation Tournament for the ninth time in program history and has drawn a No. 6 seed and a home date against No. 3-seed Indiana for its opening-round game at 9 p.m. Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion.
Tech (17-15, 8-10 ACC), which has defied pre-season projections in its first season under head coach Josh Pastner, bowed out of last week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the opening round with a 61-59 loss to Pittsburgh. The Yellow Jackets finished 11th in the regular season standings, split their last eight games of the regular season, going 3-4 in ACC play following a non-conference win over Tusculum on Feb. 7.
Indiana (18-15, 7-11 ACC) finished in 10th place in the Big Ten regular season and won their first-round game in the Big Ten Tournament against Iowa, 95-73, before falling to Wisconsin, 70-60, in the second round. The Hoosiers have won three of their last five games after losing five in a row.
Tuesday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN. Live streaming is available on the WatchESPN app. Radio coverage is provided by Tech’s flagship station, 680 the Fan (680 AM/93.7 FM).
THE STARTING LINEUP
Georgia Tech is playing in the NIT for the ninth time, and is playing its first-round game at home for the third straight time. This is the 25th post-season appearance overall in program history.
Tech and Indiana are in the Syracuse quadrant along with Georgia (19-14) and Belmont (22-6), which won the regular-season title in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Bulldogs and the Bruins meet in Athens Wednesday night, and the winner will meet the Tech-Indiana winner in the second round, date to be determined. Also in the Syracuse quadrant, the Orange (18-14) will open at home against No. 8 UNC Greensboro (25-9), and No. 4 Monmouth (27-6) will host No. 5 Mississippi (20-13) in the opening round Tuesday night.
Tech is one of two teams to finish the regular season with a winning record (3-2) against the top four seeds in last week’s ACC Tournament (Virginia is the other).
Tech’s 8-10 ACC record matched the mark of last year’s NIT team and finished the regular season with one fewer victory overall.
Tech has the seventh most efficient defense in the country according to KenPom.com, giving up 90.8 points per 100 possessions. The Yellow Jackets rank No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (40.7 pct.) vs. ACC teams, and ranks No. 3 in scoring defense (68.8 ppg). Nationally, Tech ranks 15th in field goal percentage defense and 52nd in scoring defense against all opponents.
Indiana averages 80.2 points a game and has shot 48.2 percent from the floor and 38.3 percent from three-point range, ranking among the nation’s top 50 in all three categories. The Hoosiers are No. 27 in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Ben Lammers’ +10.7 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 has more than doubled his scoring output (+7.1) and Quinton Stephens (+4.9) nearly has doubled his over last season. Josh Heath (+3.3) has more than doubled his 2015-16 average.
Three keys for Tech to win – The Jackets are 17-3 this season when they shoot a better percentage from the floor than their opponent, are 13-0 when scoring 70 points and 16-3 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.
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’S NIT HISTORY
Georgia Tech has a 10-8 record all-time in eight appearances in the National Invitation Tournament, reaching the finals once (1971) and the quarterfinals three other times. The Yellow Jackets are 4-1 in post-season NIT games at home, 1-5 on the road.
Tech’s last appearance in the NIT occurred last season, when 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.
Tech has reached the quarterfinals three times in its last four NIT appearances, coming up one win short of playing in New York. 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 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.
SERIES NOTES VS. INDIANA
Indiana has won both prior meetings with Georgia Tech, most recently an 83-79 victory at Assembly Hall in Bloomington in the 2007 ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
The Hoosiers captured an 85-67 win over the Yellow Jackets in the teams’ first meeting on Dec. 29, 1969, in the Bruin Classic in Los Angeles.
This will be Tech’s second game against a Big Ten team this season. The Yellow Jackets lost 67-61 at Penn State on Nov. 29 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, dropping the Jackets’ all-time record against the Big Ten to 19-35.
Georgia Tech sustained its fifth opening-round loss in the ACC Tournament in the last seven years. The Yellow Jackets’ all-time record in the ACC Tournament is now 26-35. Tech has won only two games in that span — 2014 over Boston College and 2016 over Clemson. The Jackets last advanced past the second round was 2010, when they reached the finals in Greensboro.
Tech has lost four of its last five games and five of its last seven. The Jackets did not win a game away from home after defeating NC State on Jan. 15.
Tech inserted Tadric Jackson in its starting lineup for Corey Heyward for the Pittsburgh game, along with Josh Heath, Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Quinton Stephens, the first time this season the Yellow Jackets had started that lineup. The Jackets had started Heath, Heyward, Lammers, Okogie and Stephens for the last 12 games. Three Yellow Jackets — Lammers, Okogie and Stephens — have started every game this season.
Tech has played its last nine games without backup forward Abdoulaye Gueye (fractured wrist).
Tech continued to struggle offensively against Pittsburgh, its 59 points the fewest for the Yellow Jackets since tallying 49 at Virginia on Jan. 21. The Jackets averaged just 65.4 points per game in the ACC regular season, and just 60.3 over its last four games, scoring no more than 61 in any of those four.
During that stretch, Tech has shot 42.4 percent from the floor, 22.4 percent from three and 62.7 percent from the free throw line.
Also during that stretch, Tech assisted on only 46.4 percent of its made field goals, far below its season norms of 61.4 percent in all games (23rd-best ratio nationally), 63.2 percent in ACC regular-season games.
Tech managed to win eight ACC games this year 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. 270 in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com.
Tech held Pitt to 38.9 percent shooting from the floor, the 10th time it has limited an ACC foe to under 40 percent this season. The Yellow Jackets led the ACC in field goal percentage defense in conference games, and have the third-lowest yield (39.8 percent) against all comers.
Tech ranks No. 7 nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings, allowing 90.7 points per 100 possessions. The Jackets also rank 16th in 2-point field goal percentage yield (43.6).
Against Pittsburgh, Tech and the Panthers were even in scoring in the paint (24-24), the first time since Feb. 4 at Wake Forest that the Yellow Jackets did not have the upper hand in that area.
The Yellow Jackets trailed at the half for the ninth straight game against an ACC opponent (Jackets led Tusculum at the half), winning just three of those games. During the ACC regular season, Tech was outscored in the first half by 76 points over 18 games, but outscored them by 10 in the second half.
Owing to Tadric Jackson’s insertion into the starting lineup, Tech’s bench was scoreless against Pittsburgh.
Tech continued to defend well in transition, allowing Pittsburgh just two fast break points. Except for the regular season finale against Syracuse, who scored 14 points in transition, the Jackets have allowed an average of just 5.4 fast break points over their last seven games.
Tech outrebounded Pittsburgh, 40-38, and has outrebounded three of its last four opponents on the boards.
Tech turned the ball over a season-low seven times. The previous low was 10 against Wofford and Virginia Tech.
Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech had nine assists on 22 made field goals (40.9 pct.) vs. Pittsburgh — not meeting its 60 percent goal. It dropped Tech’s season rate to 61.4 percent, and 63.2 percent in ACC games.
Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents’ attempts): Tech made 11-of-17 free throws (10-of-11 second half), to Pittsburgh’s 13-of-17 (goal of making more than opponent tries not accomplished). The Yellow Jackets maintain a 69.8-percent clip from the foul line in ACC games, 68.0 percent in all games.
Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech’s guards combined for 12 of Tech’s 28 defensive rebounds, 46 of 80 in Tech’s last three games.
Two Tech players — Ben Lammers and Josh Heath — played the full 40 minutes against Pittsburgh. It was the first such game in the career of Heath, who averaged 32.7 minutes per ACC game this season. It was the fourth 40-minute game for Lammers, the most for one player in a season since Matt Harpring logged five in the 1996-97 season.
Tadric Jackson made his fifth start of the season, first since Jan. 4 in Tech’s second ACC game of the season at Duke. He scored a team-high 17 points (8 for a career-high 21 from the floor) for his 19th double-figure game this season and ninth in Tech’s last 12 games. He is Tech’s third leading scorer (11.8 ppg). In his five starts this season, Jackson has averaged 11.4 points on 44.9-percent shooting from the floor (6-for-18 on threes).
Jackson is 3-for-22 from three-point range in Tech’s last four games, dropping his season rate to 33.0 percent. Over that same stretch, he is 22-for-37 (59.5 percent) from inside the arc. For the season, Jackson has shot exactly 50 percent on his two-point tries.
Josh Okogie scored 15 points (4-of-11 FG, 7-of-9 FT), his 27th double-digit game this year and his 18th in 19 games against ACC teams. He averaged a team-high 17.1 points per ACC game during the regular season, and is averaging a team-high 15.5 in all games. Only six times previously has a freshman led Tech in scoring; he is Tech’s highest-scoring freshman since Chris Bosh in 2002-03.
Quinton Stephens recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and went 3-for-10 from three-point range. It was his 18th double-digit scoring game of the year. He added six rebounds, four assists and made two threes, giving him a team-high 45 for the season.
Ben Lammers matched his season low for points with six, only the fifth time all season he has failed to reach double figures.
Lammers did, however, grab 15 rebounds, matching his second-highest total of the season (high is 17) and giving him his 14th double-digit rebounding game of the season. He ranks third in the ACC with 9.3 per game.
Lammers blocked just one shot, giving him 104 for the season, the third-highest season total for a Tech player. Alvin Jones holds the top two positions (141 in 1997-98, 107 in 1998-99). Lammers is averaging 3.25 blocks per game, which ranks No. 2 nationally and leads the ACC.
Corey Heyward has committed just four turnovers in 210 minutes over his last 13 games. He has played 21 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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