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Jackets Host No. 21 Mississippi State in Inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge

GEORGIA TECH (2-2) vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE (6-0)


 

THE FLATS – Returning home to play its fourth home game out of five this season, Georgia Tech takes on No. 21 Mississippi State in the first edition of the ACC/SEC Challenge, with tipoff at 7 p.m. Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion.

Tech (2-2) began its first season under head coach Damon Stoudamire with a pair of home court victories over Georgia Southern on Nov. 6 (84-62) and a come-from-behind 88-85 win over Howard on Nov. 9, but has lost its last two, a 74-71 decision at home to UMass Lowell Nov. 14 and an 89-54 defeat at Cincinnati last Wednesday.

Mississippi State (6-0) moved into the top 25 of the Associated Press and coaches’ polls last week after defeating Washington State (76-64) and Northwestern (66-57) at the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. The Bulldogs also own a season-opening victory over Arizona State (71-56) and have won five of their six games by double digits.

Tuesday’s game will be televised live on the ACC Network, with a live stream of the broadcast available on the ESPN app. Radio coverage is on the Georgia Tech Sports Network by Legends Sports and flagship station 680 the Fan (680 AM/93.7 FM). The Tech broadcast is also available on the SiriusXM app and SiriusXM channel 383.

THE TIP-OFF

  • Georgia Tech plays six of its first seven games of the 2023-24 season at home. Last Wednesday’s game at Cincinnati is the Yellow Jackets’ only trip out of Atlanta until Dec. 16, when they face Penn State at Madison Square Garden.
  • Tech embarks upon its first ACC/SEC Challenge matchup after 23 years competing in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, in which the Yellow Jackets went 9-12. Tech was 6-4 at home in that series.
  • Tech faces two top-25 teams this week. Mississippi State is ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press poll, No. 25 in the coaches’ rankings, while Duke (Saturday) is No. 7 in both. The Yellow Jackets have not faced two ranked teams this early in the season since 2020-21 (No. 20 Kentucky and No. 15 Florida State in the first five games).
  • Tech is in the midst of playing four consecutive games against power conference opponents – Cincinnati (Nov. 22), Mississippi State (Nov. 28), Duke (Dec. 2) and Georgia (Dec. 5), and will face a fifth on Dec. 16 (Penn State).
  • Mississippi State is one of five guaranteed non-conference opponents for Tech that won 20 or more games in the 2022-23 season, including four that played in the post-season. The Bulldogs (21-13), Penn State (23-14) and Howard (22-13) all played in the NCAA Tournament last season, while Cincinnati (23-13), a new member of the Big 12, reached the quarterfinals of the NIT. UMass Lowell (26-8) finished second in the America East Conference. The Yellow Jackets potentially could play two more 20-win teams in the Diamond Head Classic, with a possible game against Hawai’i (21-11) in the second round and TCU (22-13) in the final round.
  • Tech has yet to play a game with its full complement of 13 scholarship players due to injury. Senior guard Lance Terry, Tech’s second-leading scorer last season, has been sidelined the entire season, while freshman forward Baye Ndongo missed the first three games. Ndongo played his first game at Cincinnati last Wednesday, but sophomore forward Tafara Gapare was sidelined for that game.
  • With the debuts of Ndongo and point guard Naithan George last Wednesday at Cincinnati, three of Tech’s four freshmen have now seen action. Forward Ibrahima Sacko has played in all four games, averaging 17 minutes.
  • Tech’s four returning scholarship players – Miles Kelly, Lance Terry, Dallan “Deebo” Coleman and Kyle Sturdivant – accounted for 59.4 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ points and 56.5 percent of the minutes during the 2022-23 season. They collectively shot 35.6 percent from three-point range. This season the group (minus Terry) has accounted for 51.9 percent of the points and 39 percent of the minutes.
  • Tech has a total of nine scholarship newcomers on its roster, five transfers who were judged the 17th best transfer class in the country by 247Sports, and four freshmen.
  • Tech’s five transfers combined to play in 263 games in their careers, and made 116 starts at their previous schools. They have combined for 15 of a possible 20 starts this season.
  • Kyle Sturdivant, a transfer himself from USC prior to the 2020-21 season, is the elder statesman on the Tech roster, playing his fourth season. He is the lone player remaining from Tech’s 2021 ACC Championship team and has played 92 games (50 starts) in a Tech uniform.
  • Tech’s only starter lost from last year’s team is 6-7 center Ja’von Franklin, now playing professionally in Serbia.

Head coach Damon Stoudamire media availability from Monday

SERIES VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE

  • Georgia Tech and Mississippi State, former conference brethren in the Southern Conference (1922-32) and then the Southeastern Conference (1932-64), are meeting for the 30th time in basketball, but it’s the first meeting since Dec. 19, 1975, when the Yellow Jackets took a 64-61 decision in Starkville.
  • The Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs met seven times as members of the Southern Conference, with MSU winning five of those.
  • As a member of the SEC, Tech went 11-7 against Mississippi State.
  • Since leaving the SEC after the 1963-64 season, the Jackets have won three of the four meetings. Two of those took place during the 1964-65 season, both won by Tech, followed by single meetings in 1973 (MSU win) and 1975.

TEAM TRENDS

  • Three players made their Yellow Jacket debuts at Cincinnati – freshman forward Baye Ndongo, freshman point guard Naithan George and non-scholarship forward Emmer Nichols, who is in his second season with the program.
  • With the debuts of Ndongo and George, three of the Yellow Jackets’ four freshmen have now seen action this season.
  • At least nine players have seen the court in each of Tech’s four games (10 vs. Howard, 12 vs. Cincinnati). Ten players average 13 or more minutes per game.
  • Tech had its best performance of the season from the free throw line at Cincinnati (15-of-19).
  • Tech has connected on 15-of-65 three-point shots (23.1 pct.) in its last three games after hitting 13-of-29 (44.8 pct.) against Georgia Southern.
  • Tech blocked a season-high 10 shots at Cincinnati, including three each by Ndongo and Kowacie Reeves, Jr.
  • Tech’s eight assists were a season low, and the Jackets have assisted on just 48.1 percent of made field goals this season.
  • Tech remains one of the nation’s best offensive rebounding teams, ranking 11th at 15.5 per game and producing 14.8 second-chance points per game.
  • Cincinnati’s 14 three-point field goals were the third-most ever given up by the Jackets in a game (most is 16 by Duke in 2017).
  • Tech ranks No. 2 in in the ACC with 26 bench points per game.
  • Tech’s average height, according to KenPom.com, is 78.2 inches, making the Jackets the 37th tallest team in the nation and a full inch taller than last year’s team, which ranked No. 171.
  • Tech’s D-I experience is rated No. 147 nationally (1.98 years), compared to No. 255 (1.55 years) for last year’s team.

PLAYER UPDATES

  • Kowacie Reeves, Jr., has reached double figures in three of four games this season – 15 each vs. Georgia Southern and Howard, 14 at Cincinnati. The junior is tied for second on Tech’s scoring chart with 12.0 points per game.
  • Reeves went 4-for-4 from the foul line at Cincinnati and has hit 13-of-14 for the season.
  • Miles Kelly extended his streak of double-digit scoring games to 12 after tallying 12 points against Cincinnati. He has averaged 19.4 points per game over that stretch.
  • Kelly has 11 offensive rebounds this season through four games, second on the team behind Tyzhaun Claude’s 12. Kelly had 10 all of last season.
  • Freshman forward Baye Ndongo made his Yellow Jacket debut at Cincinnati, starting in place of the injured Tafara Gapare. He scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds.
  • Deebo Coleman missed both of his three-point attempts at Cincinnati and saw his streak one three-point field goal in 18 consecutive games come to an end. He is 9-of-18 this season from distance, still the best mark on the team.
  • Coleman committed his first turnover of the season at Cincinnati. It is his only miscue in nearly 99 minutes of action across four games.
  • Kyle Sturdivant has 17 assists against four turnovers through four games. He had four assists and no turnovers at Cincinnati and leads Tech in assist average with 4.3 per game.
  • Kelly made 4-of-9 tries from three-point range against Georgia Southern, but has gone just 1-for-14 since. Sturdivant went 2-for-3 from three-point range against Georgia Southern, but has gone 0-for-5 since.

Kowacie Reeves, Jr., media availability from Monday

 


Competitive Drive Initiative Turn 2

Looking to build on the success of last year’s Competitive Drive Initiative, Georgia Tech, the Georgia Tech Foundation and Georgia Tech athletics are partnering once again to launch Competitive Drive Initiative Turn 2. CDI Turn 2 has a goal of raising $2.5 million in new gifts to the Alexander-Tharpe Fund’s Athletic Scholarship Fund by Dec. 31, and Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Foundation will match eligible gifts to accelerate the impact for Tech athletics. Like last year, not only will gifts to CDI Turn 2 be matched, but so will the contributor’s benefits in the way of A-T Fund giving levels and priority points. To learn more and contribute online, visit atfund.org/turn2.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL

Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its first year under head coach Damon Stoudamire. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won four ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993, 2021), played in the NCAA Tournament 17 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 Ramblinwreck.com.

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