March 15, 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. This is the 24th post-season appearance in Georgia Tech’s basketball history, and the eighth appearance for the Yellow Jackets in the NIT.
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.
The Jackets enter the NIT having won six of their 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.
Houston finished third in the American Athletic Conference regular-season with a 12-6 record and lost to Tulane in the first round of the conference tournament. The Cougars also finished the regular season strong, winning nine of their last 11.
Wednesday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and will be streamed live on the WatchESPN app. Radio coverage of the game is provided by the Georgia Tech/IMG Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on 680 the Fan (680 AM and 93.7 FM).
Free basketball – Georgia Tech is playing in the post-season for the first time since 2010, when the Yellow Jackets last played in the NCAA Tournament. Tech is in the NIT for the first time since 2003.
Twenty-something – A win for Georgia Tech in the first round of the NIT would give the Yellow Jackets their first 20-win season since 2009-10, and their fourth in the last 20 years. Tech has won 20 games in a season 14 times in its history.
Next up – 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 either March 18, 19, 20 or 21. 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 and are potential third-round opponents.
Common opponents – Tulane is the only common opponent shared by Tech and Houston this season. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Green Wave, 76-68, in New Orleans on Dec. 5. Houston won both regular season meetings against Tulane, but lost to the Green Wave in the first round of the AAC Tournament.
Senior citizens – Five Georgia Tech seniors – Marcus Georges-Hunt, Charles Mitchell, Nick Jacobs, Adam Smith and James White – have accounted for 131 of a possible 165 starts this season, 62.2 percent of the minutes played and 76.2 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ scoring.
Experienced – According to KenPom.com, Tech has the ninth most experienced roster in the nation, with an average number of years’ experience at 2.37. Tech has five seniors (one a fifth-year), three juniors (one in his fourth year in the program) and four sophomores (one in his third year).
Finishing strong – Georgia Tech won five of its last six regular-season games (the lone loss by three points at No. 11 Louisville) and has won six of eight games entering the post-season. It was the Yellow Jackets’ best finish since they won seven of nine to close out the 2001-02 regular season.
Winning – Georgia Tech has achieved its highest win total, both overall and in the ACC, under Brian Gregory, and has its most wins overall since 2009-10 (23-13) and most in the ACC since 2006-07 (8-8). The Yellow Jackets have assured themselves of finishing the season with a winning record for the first time since 2012-13 (16-15).
Historical look – In Tech’s 37 years in the ACC (including this season), 15 Yellow Jacket teams have won eight or more ACC games in the regular season. Only four have won nine or more.
No cigar – ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) has Tech No. 48 with an overall schedule strength ranking of No. 3. The Yellow Jackets are the highest-rated team to not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Close calls – Tech’s 18 regular-season ACC games were decided by an average of 5.2 points, only one of those by double digits (66-52 loss at Clemson on Feb. 13). The Yellow Jackets won their eight ACC games this season by an average of 4.3 points, and their 10 losses came by an average of 6.3 points. Tech’s last seven games before the ACC Tournament quarterfinal loss to Virginia, which included six wins, were decided by a total of 24 points.
Close calls II – Tech lost by double digits only three times all year, two of those to top-2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament – Villanova (69-52) back in November and No. 4 Virginia (72-52) in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. Similarly, Tech has not won a game by more than seven points since Dec. 23, and that included 10 victories.
Tough at home – Tech finished the regular season 13-5 at home, percentage-wise its best home record, and its most home wins, in five seasons under Brian Gregory. The Jackets have not had a better home record since going 14-2 in 2009-10.
All-Conference – Marcus Georges-Hunt was named second-team All-ACC by the league’s coaches and third-team by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. He is the second all-conference honoree for Tech under Brian Gregory (Daniel Miller third-team in 2014).
Old school – All five of the schools that Tech’s four transfers attended previously (Adam Smith attended two schools before Tech) are in the postseason. Maryland (Charles Mitchell), UNC-Wilmington (Adam Smith) and Arkansas-Little Rock (James White) are in the NCAA tournament. Alabama (Nick Jacobs) and Virginia Tech (Smith) are in the NIT.
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.
INSIDE THE SERIES WITH HOUSTON
Georgia Tech and Houston have met twice previously, both on neutral floors, ands both victories for the Yellow Jackets.
Most recently, Tech defeated the Cougars, 65-60, in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Midwest Regional at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wis., seeting up a second-round matchup with Southern California, a game celebrated in Tech basketball lore as the “Miracle in Milwaukee” after James Forrest knocked down a three-point basket at the buzzer to defeat the Trojans.
The other meeting occurred in the 1988 Rainbow Classic at the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawai’i, which Tech also won, 87-78.
Georgia Tech is facing Houston’s head coach, Kelvin Sampson, for the fourth time, and at his third different school. Tech defeated Sampson’s Oklahoma teams twice, in the 1994 Rainbow Classic in Honolulu and in the 1995 Pre-Season NIT, a second-round game played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Sampson’s Indiana team defeated Tech, 83-79, in a 2007 ACC-Big Ten Challenge game in Bloomington.
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) has Tech No. 48 with an overall schedule strength of No. 3 Tech has played the top three teams and gone 1-3 against them, and played five of the top 10 teams.
CBSSports.com ranks Tech’s overall strength of schedule at No. 21. The Jackets’ non-conference schedule strength is rated No. 98. Tech has played four of the top 10 in that RPI ranking. Seven of Tech’s 14 losses came to teams in the top 25, and only one to a team outside the top 100.
Tech is ranked No. 64 in the KenPom.com rankings, having played three of the top five teams and five of the top 12, and has the 17th-ranked toughest schedule.
Tech played 10 teams that received bids to the NCAA tournament. By seed – 1: North Carolina, Virginia; 2: Villanova, 3: Miami, 4: Duke; 6: Notre Dame, 10: Pittsburgh, VCU, Syracuse 14: Green Bay. The Jackets were 5-8 against them. Tech defeated Virginia, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, VCU, Green Bay (all at home). Tech lost to North Carolina, Virginia, Villanova, Miami, Duke, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse (six of eight were away or at a neutral site).
THE JACKETS BY NUMBERS
Less post-oriented – The Jackets’ four post players have combined for 183 points, or 32.9 percent, of Tech’s total scoring during Tech’s last eight games. The foursome has accounted for 37.9 percent of the Jackets’ total output for the season.
Still relentless on the boards – Tech is out-rebounding its opponents by 7.2 per game, which ranks 26th in the nation and No. 3 in the ACC. Tech has out-rebounded 28 of 33 opponents this season with two ties. Tech is No. 3 in the ACC and 23rd nationally in offensive rebounds per game (13.2).
Turnovers down – Tech is averaging 11.1 turnovers this season (6th in the ACC, 42nd NCAA), down 1.6 per game from last season (12.7).
Scoring up – Tech is averaging 73.2 points per game, nearly 10 points per game higher than a year ago. The Yellow Jackets scored 70.4 per ACC game, also nearly 10 points per game better than last year’s average.
From downtown – Tech’s 35.0-percent success rate from three-point range is up approximately eight percent over last year. The Yellow Jackets hit 33.7 percent against the ACC during the regular season.
Profiting from charity – Tech has improved its season conversion rates from the charity stripe to 71.9 percent in all games, 72.1 percent in ACC games. No Tech team since 1972-73 finished the season with a better percentage from the line (73.1). The 2002-03 team with freshmen Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack was the last to shoot better against the ACC (73.5).
Advantage Tech – Tech was outscored from the line in 10 of its first 12 ACC games this season (222-155), but during its last nine games that trend reversed to the tune of 118-83 in the Jackets’ favor.
Double up – Three Georgia Tech players are averaging in double digits – Marcus Georges-Hunt (16.7 ppg), Adam Smith (14.9), Nick Jacobs (10.6) – and Charles Mitchell is just below at 9.9. Tech has not finished a season with four or more players averaging in double figures since 2008-09.
Tinkering – Head coach Brian Gregory has used seven different starting lineups this season. Marcus Georges-Hunt is the only Jacket to start every game. Tech has started Georges-Hunt, Adam Smith and Quinton Stephens on the perimeter, Nick Jacobs and Charles Mitchell in the post in each of the last five games and won four of the five.
Marcus Georges-Hunt will start his 127th career game in the opening round of the NIT, tying him with Malcolm Mackey (1989-93) for the most career starts at Georgia Tech. He also will play his 128th career game in the first round of the NIT, the second-most in Georgia Tech history and two short of the program record of 130 shared by Mackey, Marvin Lewis (2000-04) and Anthony McHenry (2001-05).
In Tech’s last eight games, Georges-Hunt has averaged 36.6 minutes, Smith 35.1 and Stephens 33.2. Collectively they have hit 45-for-126 (35.7 pct.) from three-point range.
Tech is 7-4 in Quinton Stephens’ 11 starts, and is 6-0 when he scores in double digits, including games against Virginia, Florida State, the second meeting against Clemson.
Stephens has played consistently well in Tech’s last 10 games, including starts in the last nine. Stephens has averaged 5.6 points and 5.3 rebounds in that stretch.
Last 10 games for Georges-Hunt: 18.8 points per game, 4.4 assists per game, 47.4 percent from the floor, 9-for-30 (30 pct.) on threes, 83.5 pct. from the free throw line
In ACC games, Georges-Hunt averaged 18.1 points per game (5th in the ACC) and Adam Smith 15.6 (10th). Georges-Hunt also ranked eighth in field goal percentage (48.6) and ninth in free throw percentage (81.3).
Georges-Hunt, with 1,677 career points, has surpassed 24 players on Tech’s all-time scoring list this season, having passed 11th-place Tony Akins (1,658 from 1998-2002) against Clemson in the ACC Tournament. He has a long way to go to reach the top 10 (Malcolm Mackey – 1,736).
Georges-Hunt ranks eighth in the ACC in free throw percentage (82.2) and third in free throw attempts per game (7.2). Only Cat Barber of NC State, Grayson Allen of Duke and Michael Young of Pittsburgh also rank in the top 10 in both categories. Georges-Hunt attempted 7.2 per ACC game.
Charles Mitchell has recorded 15 double-doubles this season. He is bidding to become the first Tech player to average in double digits in points and rebounds since Alvin Jones in 2000-01. Only Jones and Malcolm Mackey (1991-92 and 1992-93) have done so since Tech joined the ACC.
Mitchell is fourth in the ACC in rebound average (9.8 per game), having led the conference for most of the season. He ranks No. 2 in offensive rebounds (3.76 per game). Mitchell ranks 26th in the nation in rebound average and 17th in offensive rebounds.
Adam Smith leads the ACC in three-point field goals made (3.06 per game, 29th in NCAA) and ranks sixth in percentage (41.6). He averaged 3.06 three-pointers in ACC regular-season games and made 39.0 percent of his tries.
Smith has made more three-pointers (career-high 101) than any Tech player since Dennis Scott (116 in 1988-89). His is the third-highest single-season total in Tech history. Dennis Scott holds the Tech record with 137 in 1989-90.
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).