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Tech Holds Off Hawai'i for 4th Straight Win

Honolulu, Hawai’i – Freshman Baye Ndongo and Miles Kelly combined to score 17 of Georgia Tech’s 21 points over the final seven minutes, enabling the Yellow Jackets to turn back a furious rally by Hawai’i and capture a 73-68 victory over the Rainbow Warriors Friday night in the semifinals of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

Tech (8-3) won its fourth straight game and advanced to face Nevada (11-1) in the championship game at 9 p.m. EST Sunday night at Simplifi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. The Yellow Jackets are looking to capture their first tournament title since winning the 2003 Pre-Season NIT. The Wolf Pack reached the final by defeating Temple and TCU. Hawai’i (8-3), the host team and defending champion of this event, will meet the Horned Frogs in the third-place game.

The Yellow Jackets were dominant in the first half of the game, shooting 58 percent, outrebounding UH, 23-9, and controlling the paint to the tune of 26-12 to lead, 43-27, at intermission. Tech finished the half on an 8-0 run and then outscored the Rainbow Warriors, 9-4 in the opening minutes of the second half to lead by 21 (52-31) at the 16:24 mark.

But Hawai’i turned up its defense and held the Jackets without a field goal for the next 10:10, outscoring Tech 22-2 over that stretch to get within one point at 54-53. Kowacie Reeves, Jr., and Kelly broke the drought with baskets to keep the Jackets ahead, but UH still managed to take the lead, 59-58 with 4:35 left in the game, after a pair of free throws each from Bernardo Da Silva and Juan Munoz.

The deficit was short lived, however, as Ndongo scored layups for Tech on each of its next two possessions, and added two free throws on the next to put the Yellow Jackets ahead 64-61 at the 2:53 mark. After UH scored a pair of free throws, the 6-9 freshman and Kelly scored on back-to-back possessions to extend Tech’s lead to 69-63 at the 1-minute mark.

Da Silva kept the Rainbow Warriors within striking distance with a basket and a free throw, but Kelly answered with another driving layup to make it 71-66 Tech with 34 seconds remaining. Jovon McClanahan drove for a layup to get UH within three one more time, but Kelly was fouled on the in-bound and sealed the game with two free throws.

Ndongo finished the game with 22 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double in Tech’s last three games. Kelly and freshman point guard Naithan George each scored 14 points with three assists, while Tafara Gapare added nine points and seven rebounds in his first start since Nov. 14.

McClanahan scored 19 points with eight assists to lead three Hawai’i players in double digits. Da Silva finished the game with 17 points, and Justin McKoy added 11.

 

Freshman Naithan George (2) scored a season-high 14 points with three assists for the Jackets. (photo by Courtney Metzger)

 

Post-Game Notes

TEAM TRENDS

  • Georgia Tech is bidding to win its first in-season neutral site tournament since the 2003 NIT Preseason NIT, when the Yellow Jackets defeated No. 1 Connecticut and No. 25 Texas Tech to capture that title. Since then, in 10 such events, the best the Jackets have been able to accomplish is three runner-up finishes (2006 Maui Invitational, 2010 Legends Classic, 2015 NIT Pre-Season Tipoff).
  • Tech is 4-1 all-time in the Diamond Head Classic. The Yellow Jackets finished third in the 2019 event. Tech is 10-6 all-time in the state of Hawai’i.
  • Tech and Nevada will meet for the championship of the Diamond Head Classic, the second meeting ever between the two teams. The Jackets defeated the Wolf Pack in the semifinals of the NCAA St. Louis Regional in 2004.
  • Tech head coach Damon Stoudamire was 0-4 against Nevada during his five seasons as head coach at Pacific.
  • Tech has won four games in a row (Alabama A&M, Penn State, UMass, Hawai’i), its longest winning streak of the 2023-24 season and longest since Feb. 25 to March 7 of last season (Louisville, Syracuse, Boston College, Florida State). Both streaks include three wins away from Atlanta.
  • Tech last won five games in a row from Nov. 12-26, 2021 (Stetson, Lamar, Georgia, Charleston Southern, Georgia Southern).
  • A win over Nevada would even head coach Damon Stoudamire’s career record at 80-80. Stoudamire was 71-77 in five seasons at Pacific.
  • Tech is 4-2 against Quad 1 and Quad 2 teams this season (UMass and Hawai’i were both Quad 2 opportunities, while Sunday opponent Nevada is a Quad 1 opportunity). The Jackets’ remaining ACC schedule has eight Quad 1 and four Quad 2 opponents. Tech was 3-14 last season against Quad 1/2 foes.
  • Tech is 6-1 since freshmen Baye Ndongo and Naithan George entered the starting lineup Nov. 28 against Mississippi State.
  • Tech has outrebounded nine of 11 opponents and tied one this season, and has outrebounded its last four opponents, 187-121 (+16.5 per game). For the season, Tech has a plus-7.4 rebounding margin and ranked No. 2 in the ACC, No. 52 nationally before the Hawai’i game.
  • Tech has connected on 46.4 percent of its field goal tries in its last three games (Penn State, UMass, Hawai’i), its best three-game aggregate percentage this season. The Jackets’ season rate is 41.7 percent.
  • Tech has won four straight games despite averaging 16.7 turnovers in that span. Opponents have scored 19.3 points per game off those turnovers. Tech turned it over just nine times against Hawai’I, its fewest since recording eight at Georgia on Dec. 8, and jujst its third game of less-than-10 turnovers this season.
  • Tech’s bench has produced 27.7 points per game over its last four games and outscored opponent’s reserves 111-73.
  • Tech remains one of the nation’s better offensive rebounding teams this season, grabbing 15 against Hawai’i and averaging 14.6 per game. The Jackets lead the ACC in that category and ranked 13th-best nationally entering Friday’s game.
  • Miles Kelly and Kowacie Reeves, Jr., are the only Tech players to start every game this season.
  • Tech has played this entire season without its full roster complement due to injuries. Senior guard Lance Terry, Tech’s No. 2 scorer last year, has not played this season and will red-shirt.
  • At least nine players saw the court in each of Tech’s first 10 games (10 vs. Howard, Mississippi State, Duke, Penn State and UMass, 11 vs. Georgia, 12 vs. Cincinnati, 13 vs. Alabama A&M). Only eight Jackets, the fewest this season, played against Hawai’i. Eleven players average more than minutes per game.
  • Tech has held each of its last four opponents under 40 percent from the floor, limiting them to 36.1 percent (93-for-257) collectively.
  • Tech has not connected on more than 30.4 percent of its threes in any one game game since going 13-for-29 in its 2023-24 opener against Georgia Southern. The Jackets have connected on 29.0 percent this season from beyond the arc.

PLAYER NOTES

  • Freshman Baye Ndongo has recorded double-doubles in two of Tech’s last three games, a season-high 22 points and 12 boards against Hawai’i, and 12 points and a season-high 19 rebounds against Penn State. The 19 rebounds tied a Tech record for a freshman. The 22/12 performance was the first 20/10 game for a Tech freshman since Josh Okogie went for 35/14 against Florida State in 2016-17.
  • Ndongo has averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds in two games at the Diamond Head Classic. He has hit 16-of-18 shots from the floor in the tournament, the best percentage (.889) of any tournament participant. His scoring average is seventh-highest, and his rebound average is No. 2.
  • Ndongo is Tech’s leader in rebound average (9.3 rpg), field goal percentage (59.1 pct.) and blocked shots (14 total). He has averaged 11 rebounds over his last five games.
  • Freshman Naithan George scored a career-high 14 points against Hawai’i. The point guard has 23 points and eight assists in two games in the Diamond Head Classic. He is 7-of-15 from the floor, 3-of-7 from three-point range and 6-of-8 from the foul line in the tournament.
  • George has started Tech’s last seven games at the point guard position and has averaged 7.3 points and 5.0 assists in those games. He had eight dimes against Alabama A&M and Penn State, and nine vs. Duke.
  • Senior point guard Kyle Sturdivant has averaged 13.0 points in the Diamond Head Classic, hitting 8-of-17 from the floor, 2-of-4 from three-point range and 8-of-8 from the foul line. Sturdivant’s 21 points against UMass was a career high. The six highest scoring games of his Tech career have occurred away from home.
  • Sturdivant ranks No. 26 nationally in assist rate (35.7 pct.) according to KenPom.com, while George is No. 82 (30.5 pct.) out of more than 2,200 eligible players.
  • Tafara Gapare has nearly as many blocked shots (6) in the Diamond Head Classic as points (9) and rebounds (7), and more blocks than field goals (4). His six blocks leads the tournament.
  • Tyzhaun Claude has averaged 6.2 rebounds over his last six games. He also has just 10 turnovers in 11 games this season.
  • Kowacie Reeves, Jr., has scored in double digits in seven of Tech’s 11 games. He has hit 44.9 percent of his shots from the floor, a team-best 37.5 percent from three-point range and 84.8 percent from the foul line.
  • Miles Kelly saw his streak of double-digit scoring games end at 17 after tallying seven points against UMass, but rebounded to tally 14 against Hawai’i, hitting 5-of-11 shots from the floor.
  • Kelly has hit 32-of-40 from the charity stripe in Tech’s last seven games after going 12-of-21 in the first three games. He is now at 72.1 percent for the season after setting a Tech record by making 89.8 percent a year ago.
  • Kelly is 1-for-16 from behind the three-point line in Tech’s last three games, 10-of-35 overall from the floor.
  • Kelly grabbed five more rebounds against Hawai’i and averages 6.1 this season, second on the team. Kelly averaged just 2.5 rebounds per game over his first two seasons.
  • Deebo Coleman logged his eighth turnover-free game this season against Hawai’i and has just five this season in 256 minutes. He ranks No. 68 nationally in turnover rate (KenPom.com).

Freshman Baye Ndongo (11) notched his second double-double in Tech’s last three games. (photo by Courtney Metzger)

 

Game Highlights

Post-Game Media

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