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Tech Comes from Behind to Defeat UMass

Honolulu, Hawai’iKyle Sturdivant came off the bench to score a career-high 21 points, including four free throws in the final 16 seconds, as Georgia Tech came from behind to defeat Massachusetts, 73-70,  Thursday night in the opening round of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

Tech (7-3) won its third straight game and advanced to face host team Hawai’i in the semifinal round at 11 p.m. EST Friday night at Simplifi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. The Rainbow Warriors defeated Portland, 69-56, Thursday night. UMass (6-3) moves into the consolation round to face the Pilots.

After taking a 37-31 lead into the halftime locker room, little went right for the Yellow Jackets against the Minutemen, who outscored Tech, 30-11, over the first 11 minutes of the second half. UMass made 11 of 19 from the floor and forced a large chunk of the Jackets’ season-high 21 turnovers during that stretch.

Tech scored the next five points, then put together a 9-0 run to tie the game at 64 with 3:23 remaining. Key during that stretch was a goal-tending call against freshman Baye Ndongo that was reversed during a review. Ndongo also scored a pair of layups on offensive rebounds and a third on a fast break for the tying points.

Matt Cross gave the Minutemen the lead back on his third three-pointer of the game, but Tech immediately re-tied the game on Naithan George’s three at the 2:59 mark. Sturdivant then put the Jackets on top for good, 69-67, with a layup with 2:01 remaining.

Sturdivant added a pair of free throws for a 71-67 lead with 16 seconds left, enabling the Jackets to withstand a three from Rahsoo Diggins with nine seconds to go. Sturdivant was fouled again with six seconds left and made two more charity tosses to seal the win for Tech.

The 6-3 senior went 6-of-10 from the floor and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the line in the game, leading three Jackets in double figures in the scoring column. Ndongo finished the game with 12 points along with eight rebounds, while Dallan “Deebo” Coleman also chipped in with 12.

Cross led UMass with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Diggins scored 5, Jayden Ndjigue scored 11 and Josh Cohen added 10 for the Minutemen.

 

Kyle Sturdivant scored a career-high 21 points and sealed the Tech win with four free throws in the final 16 seconds. (photo by Courtney Metzger)

 

Post-Game Notes

TEAM TRENDS

  • Georgia Tech is 3-1 all-time in the Diamond Head Classic. The Yellow Jackets finished third in the 2019 event. Tech is 9-6 all-time in the state of Hawai’i.
  • Tech and Hawai’i will meet in one semifinal game Friday night, a rematch of the 2019 third-place game in the Diamond Head Classic won by the Yellow Jackets, 70-53.
  • Tech holds a 3-2 lead over Hawai’i, having defeated the Rainbow Warriors the last time the Yellow Jackets played in the Diamond Head Classic, a 70-53 win on Christmas Day 2019. The Jackets also played Hawai’i in a pair of regular season games on consecutive days, Feb. 19-20, 1971, in Honolulu, both games won by the Rainbow Warriors.
  • Tech has won three games in a row for the first time this season (Alabama A&M, Penn State, UMass). The Yellow Jackets won their first two games of the season, then lost to UMass Lowell. Following back-to-back wins over No. 21 Mississippi State and No. 7 Duke, the Jackets lost at Georgia.
  • Tech is 3-2 against Quad 1 and Quad 2 teams this season (UMass represented the Yellow Jackets’ third Quad 2 opponent). The Jackets have eight Quad 1 and four Quad 2 opponents remaining on its schedule, all in the ACC. Tech was 3-14 last season against Quad 1/2 foes.
  • Tech is 5-1 since freshmen Baye Ndongo and Naithan George, and senior transfer Ebenezer Dowuona entered the starting lineup.
  • Tech has outrebounded eight of 10 opponents and tied one this season, and has outrebounded its last three opponents, 141-93 (+16.0 per game). For the season, Tech has a plus-6.3 rebounding margin.
  • Tech has connected on 46.7 percent of its field goal tries in its last two games (Penn State, UMass), its best back-to-back shooting games this season. The Jackets’ season rate is 41.3 percent.
  • Tech has won three straight games despite averaging 19.3 turnover in that span. Opponents have scored 22.3 points per game off those turnovers.
  • Tech’s bench has produced 34.6 points per game over its last three games and outscored opponent’s reserves 104-55.
  • Tech remains one of the nation’s better offensive rebounding teams this season, grabbing 10 against UMass and averaging 14.6 per game. The Jackets lead the ACC in that category and ranked 17th-best nationally entering Saturday’s game.
  • Miles Kelly and Kowacie Reeves, Jr., are the only Tech players to start every game this season.
  • Tech has played its first nine games without its full roster complement due to injuries. Senior guard Lance Terry, Tech’s No. 2 scorer last year, has not yet played this season.
  • At least nine players have seen the court in each of Tech’s nine games (10 vs. Howard, Mississippi State, Duke, Penn State and UMass, 11 vs. Georgia, 12 vs. Cincinnati, 13 vs. Alabama A&M). Eleven players average more than minutes per game.
  • Tech’s 18 free throws and 85.7-percent success rate against UMass were season highs. Conversely, the opponents have made 10 or more threes in three of the last four games
  • Tech has not made more than eight three-point field goals in a 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

  • Kyle Sturdivant has played 101 games as a Yellow Jacket, most on the team. He has played in 122 for his college career, the first 21 at Southern California.
  • Sturdivant’s 21 points against UMass was a career high, surpassing his 20 points last February at Syracuse. Sturdivant has averaged 11.5 points over his last 14 games away from McCamish Pavilion. The six highest scoring games of his Tech career have occurred away from home.
  • Freshman Baye Ndongo has averaged 12 points and 13.5 rebounds in Tech’s last two games, 11.0 points and 9.6 rebounds across his last five games.
  • Ndongo is Tech’s rebound leader at 8.9 per game, its field goal percentage leader at 53.7 percent and its blocked shot leader at 2.0 per game.
  • Tyzhaun Claude has averaged 6.4 rebounds over his last five games. He also has just eight turnovers in 10 games this season.
  • Kowacie Reeves, Jr., has scored in double digits in seven of Tech’s 11 games. He has hit 45.1 percent of his shots from the floor, a team-best 35.9 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. He entered Saturday’s game No. 12 in the ACC in scoring and averages a team-high 15.3 points per game.
  • Kelly has hit 29-of-36 from the charity stripe in Tech’s last seven games after going 12-of-21 in the first three games. He is now at 71.9 percent for the season after setting a Tech record by making 89.8 percent a year ago.
  • Kelly is 0-for-13 from behind the three-point line in Tech’s last two games, 5-of-24 overall from the floor.
  • Kelly grabbed six more rebounds against UMass and averages 6.2 this season, second on the team. Kelly averaged just 2.5 rebounds per game over his first two seasons.
  • Deebo Coleman more than doubled his season turnover total against UMass (3) after committing just two turnovers in 216 minutes of action across Tech’s first nine games. He ranked No. 6 nationally in turnover rate (KenPom.com) before the UMass game.
  • Coleman’s 12 points against UMass was just his third double-digit game of the season and first since scoring a career-high 24 points against UMass Lowell. He scored 24 points across the six games in between.
  • Freshman Naithan George has started Tech’s last six games at the point guard position and has averaged 6.2 points and 5.3 assists in those games. He had eight dimes against Alabama A&M and Penn State, and nine vs. Duke.

Freshman Baye Ndongo had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Jackets. (photo by Courtney Metzger)

 

Game Highlights

Post-Game Press Conference

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