March 18, 2017
THE FLATS – Into the second round of the National Invitation Tournament for the second straight year, No. 6-seeded Georgia Tech hosts No. 7 seed Belmont at noon Sunday at McCamish Pavilion.
Tech (18-15, 8-10 ACC), which has defied pre-season projections in its first season under head coach Josh Pastner, defeated No. 6-seed Indiana, 75-63, Tuesday night at home in its opening-round NIT game, pulling way in the final 10 minutes after trailing by seven at the half. The Yellow Jackets, 16-4 at home this season, are hosting a second-round NIT game for the first time since 1998.
Belmont (23-6, 15-1 OVC), playing in its fourth NIT, advanced to the second round Wednesday night by defeating Georgia, 78-69, in Athens. The Bruins are an automatic qualifier for the NIT, having won the regular season championship of the Ohio Valley Conference.
Sunday’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 won its opening-round game for the sixth time. This is the 25th post-season appearance overall in program history.
Tech and Belmont are in the Syracuse quadrant, where the top-seeded Orange (19-14) won their opening-round contest over UNC Greensboro, 90-77, Wednesday night. Mississippi (21-13) is the other remaining team in the Syracuse quadrant, having defeated Monmouth, 91-83, Tuesday night. Syracuse will host the Rebels at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The winner between Tech and Belmont will travel to face the Syracuse-Mississippi winner Tuesday, March 21.
In Belmont, Tech is facing a team ranked 19 spots higher (No. 60) in the CBSSports.com RPI rankings than its first-round foe, Indiana (No. 79). The Yellow Jackets are ranked No. 106.
A win over Belmont Sunday would be the 17th home-court win this season, breaking the program record set by the 2006-07 team (16-1).
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 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 15th nationally in field goal percentage defense and 50th in scoring defense against all opponents. 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).
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.
Ben Lammers’ +10.6 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 (+7.4), Quinton Stephens (+5.1) and Josh Heath (+3.1) have more than doubled their scoring outputs over last season.
Three keys for Tech to win – The Jackets are 18-3 this season when they shoot a better percentage from the floor than their opponent, are 14-0 when scoring 70 points and 17-3 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.
COACH PASTNER AUDIO FROM FRIDAY
TECH’S NIT HISTORY
Georgia Tech has an 11-8 record all-time in nine appearances in the National Invitation Tournament, reaching the finals once (1971) and the quarterfinals three other times. The Yellow Jackets are 5-1 in post-season NIT games at home, 1-5 on the road.
Tech is in the NIT for the second straight year. 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.
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. BELMONT
Georgia Tech and Belmont have never met on the hardwood.
Tech is 13-1 all-time against members of the Ohio Valley Conference, losing only to Murray State in 1954.
Belmont is Tech’s second meeting against an OVC team this year, having beaten Tennessee Tech, 70-55, in the season opener on Nov. 11.
Tech coach Josh Pastner won his only meeting against Belmont while head coach at Memphis.
TRENDING FROM THE INDIANA GAME…
Tech improved its all-time record in the NIT to 11-8 and has won its first-round game for the third straight time.
The Yellow Jackets improved to 16-4 at home this season, tying a program record for home wins in a season. The 2006-07 team went 16-1 at home.
If you thought the 75-63 final score had a familiar ring to it, you’d be right. It was the third time Tech has won a game by that score this season (North Carolina on Dec. 31 and Clemson on Jan. 12).
Tech led at the half (34-27) for the 16th time this year and improved to 14-2 when doing so.
Tech improved to 16-0 this season when leading at the 5-minute mark of the second half.
Tech started Josh Heath, Corey Heyward, Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Quinton Stephens for the 13th time this season, and for the 13th time in Tech’s last 14 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 10 games without backup forward Abdoulaye Gueye (fractured wrist Feb. 1 vs. Clemson).
Tech wore gold uniforms at home for the third time this season and improved to 2-1 when doing so. Tech is 3-4 this season when wearing gold uniforms this season regardless of venue.
Tech scored 70 or more points for the 14th time this season and remained undefeated when doing so. The Yellow Jackets’ 75 points were their most since beating Tusculum, 96-58, on Feb. 7. It was the most vs. a Division I team since beating Florida State, 78-56, on Jan. 25. The Jackets had averaged just 60.3 points over its previous four games.
Tech shot 48.2 percent from the floor (51.7 percent in the second half), its best percentage since hitting 49.2 percent against NC State on Jan. 15 (not counting the 56.3-percent clip vs. Tusculum). Tech had connected on just 42.4 percent over its previous four games.
Tech outshot Indiana and improved to 18-3 this season when it has a higher field goal percentage than its opponent.
Tech held Indiana to 37.9 percent shooting from the floor, more than 10 percent beneath its season norm of 48.2 percent. Only three other teams have held the Hoosiers to a lower percentage this season. Indiana was the 17th opponent Tech has held 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 (39.7 percent) against all comers.
Tech held the Hoosiers 17 points under their season average of 80.2 points per game. Indiana has scored fewer than its 63 vs. Tech only five times.
Indiana entered the game connecting on 38.3 percent of its three-point tries but went just 5-for-19 (26.3 percent) against Tech. The Yellow Jackets have held 13 opponents under 30 percent from beyond the arc.
Tech had one of its better nights shooting threes, making 7-of-19 for 36.8 percent. The Jackets are last in the ACC in three-point shooting, and had made only 22.4 percent over its previous four games.
Tech and the Hoosiers were even in scoring in the paint (30-30), the second straight game that stat has been a standoff.
Tech turned the ball over just nine times (three in the second half), the second consecutive game the Jackets have stayed under 10. Tech committed a season-low seven against Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament.
Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech had 17 assists on 27 made field goals (63 pct.) vs. Indiana — exceeding its 60 percent goal. It improved 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 14-of-21 free throws (9-of-11 second half), to Indiana’s 14-of-18 (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 10 of Tech’s 25 defensive rebounds, 56 of 105 in Tech’s last three games.
Josh Okogie scored a game-high 24 points (9-of-15 FG, 6-of-9 FT), his 28th double-digit game this year. Okogie has reached double figures in 12 straight games, last failing to do so vs. Notre Dame on Jan. 28. It was Okogie’s seventh game this season of 20 or more points. He is averaging a team-high 15.8 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 surpassed 500 points for the season against Indiana, now at 521. 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 four assists and seven rebounds in 37 minutes.
Quinton Stephens scored 16 points (6-for-9 FG), his second straight game with 16. The effort returned him to double-figures for the season at 10.1 points per game. It was his 19th double-digit scoring game of the year. He missed his eight double-double by one rebound, but added three assists in 37 minutes.
Stephens went 4-for-7 from three-point range against Indiana, and has made four or more threes in a game four times this season.
Stephens surpassed 800 career points with his effort against Indiana.
Stephens played in the 131st game of his career against Indiana, giving him the all-time Tech record. The previous mark of 130 was shared by Malcolm Mackey (1990-93), Marvin Lewis (2001-04), Anthony McHenry (2002-05) and Marcus Georges-Hunt (2013-16).
Ben Lammers notched his 14th double-double this season, scoring 11 points with 11 rebounds. He ranks third in the ACC in double-doubles. It was his 28th double-figure scoring game this season, and his 16th double-digit rebounding game. He ranks third in the ACC with 9.4 per game. Lammers added three assists and two steals in 38 minutes.
Lammers blocked five shots, his most since swatting away seven on Feb. 19 vs. Syracuse. It gave him 109 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 3.30 blocks per game, which ranks No. 3 nationally and leads the ACC. He moved up to sixth place at Tech in career blocks with 160.
Tadric Jackson scored 19 points (7-for-13 from the floor) for his 20th double-figure game this season and 10th in Tech’s last 13 games. He is Tech’s third leading scorer (12.1 ppg). Jackson added three assists and three steals in 25 minutes. The junior guard made two threes but went 5-for-7 inside the arc. For the season he is making 50.7 percent of his twos.
Jackson surpassed 700 career points with his performance against Indiana.
Josh Heath went scoreless for the first time since Jan. 25 vs. Florida State, ironically also a Tech victory. But he played a solid 38 minutes running Tech’s offense and committed only one turnover. Heath had only two assists, but it gave him an even 300 for his Tech career.
Corey Heyward played 21 turnover-free minutes, and has committed just four turnovers in 231 minutes over his last 14 games. He has played 22 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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