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Georgia Tech Basketball Preview: Texas-Rio Grande Valley

Sept. 1, 2017

THE FLATS – Four of the first five home games (Northwestern excluded) on Georgia Tech’s schedule are part of the Ramblin’ Wreck Showcase. UTRGV is the second game of that event, Nov. 22 at McCamish Pavilion. This is the fourth in a series of previews of the Yellow Jackets’ non-conference opponents.

Tech and UTRGV met on the hardwood in 1975, when the school was known at Texas-Pan American and the athletic teams were known as the Broncs. The basketball program transitioned from NAIA to NCAA Division I in the late 1960s and joined the Western Athletic Conference in 2013.

Location: Edinburg, Texas
Conference: Western Athletic
Home arena: UTRGV Fieldhouse
2016-17 Record: 10-22 overall, 2-12 in WAC (7th), 315th in NCAA RPI
Post-Season: lost to UMKC in quarterfinals of WAC Tournament, 82-78 (OT)
NCAA Postseason Appearances: One (Division II; 1968)
All-time series record: 1-0, UTRGV (1975)
Head coach: Lew Hill (entering second season – 10-22)
Starters returning/lost: 4/1
Top scorer returning: Nick Dixon (18.8)
Top rebounder returning: Nick Dixon (5.1)

Quick preview for 2017-18

In year two of head coach Lew Hill’s rebuild, Texas-Rio Grande Valley should expect to see gains in almost every department this season. With the return and prolific play of Nick Dixon offensively, the only question mark remains on the defensive side of the ball. And, with seven of their first 10 games on the road, the Vaqueros will have to learn in tough environments to start things off. Had the season-ending drought not happened, UTRGV was poised to be a top-half WAC team, so one of the themes for the team in 2017-18 will be consistency of play and short-term memory when it comes to setbacks.

Quick recap of 2016-17

In the first year of a new era under first-year head coach Lew Hill, UTRGV laid a foundation for the future, winning 10 games, and were close in many close games on those WAC games it couldn’t put away. It wasn’t until the last half of the season that things went astray, with 10 straight losses to close out the year. The highlight for the Vaqueros came when they dropped 101 points on the eventual WAC Tournament champion, New Mexico State. NMSU would edge out UTRGV, however, it proved that Rio Grande Valley is on the right track.

Individually, the story of the year was the return of Nick Dixon, who left school for personal reasons, only to re-emerge to lead the team in scoring (18.8), rebounding (5.1), steals (1.9) and shooting (.521). Once conference action began, Dixon further elevated his play to 21.4 points/game.

Greatest Program Accomplishment

After making the NAIA Tournament for the first time in program history in 1962, UT-Pan American, as the school was then known, returned with a vengeance in 1963 and, with Luke Jackson rewriting the record book, made quick work in the tournament to win a NAIA National Championship. The Broncs had to go through Peru State, Stetson, Northern Michigan, Grambling State and, in the championship game, Western Carolina en route to the crown, winning games by an average of 20.5 points. Luke Jackson won the Chuck Taylor MVP award for leading the tournament in rebounding – 93 rebounds in five games (18.6 rebounds/game).

Greatest player in program history

Two-time All-American power forward/center Luke Jackson spent three seasons with the Broncs and is largely considered the best to ever play for the school. Ranking first in program history in career field goal percentage (.547), free throws made (443) and attempted (605), second in points (1,813), rebounds (1,393) and field goals made (685) and attempted (1,252), Jackson helped lead them to the 1963 NAIA National Championship as a junior while earning the MVP award that season. He would lead them to the NAIA Tournament each year of his career, making it to the national championship game twice.

After graduating, Jackson was selected to play with the U.S. National Team, which won the gold medal in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Later that summer, Jackson would be drafted fourth overall in the NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, going to average 9.9 points and 8.8 rebounds in eight seasons. Jackson was inducted into the UTPA Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.

Place to visit on campus or in the city

Located right in Edinburg, Texas, the Museum of South Texas History features an assortment of fascinating collections and exhibits. More than a city block large, the museum includes an ice age mammoth, prehistoric mosasaur, the history of Spanish exploration and colonization, the Mexican War, U.S. Civil War and the Cattle Kingdom.

Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its second 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 Tickets for men’s basketball can be purchased here.


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