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Tech Edges Penn State, 82-81, in Overtime

New York, N.Y.Tafara Gapare scored 20 points, and Baye Ndongo posted a double-double with 19 rebounds, and Miles Kelly drained a pair of free throws for Georgia Tech’s go-ahead points with 2.1 seconds remaining in overtime as the Yellow Jackets edged Penn State, 82-81, Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Down one point after Kanye Clary gave the Nittany Lions (5-6) the lead with a pull-up jumper in the lane with 23 seconds to go, Tech set up for a game-winning shot. Kowacie Reeves, Jr., who scored 15 points in the game, missed a three-point try from the right corner, got his own rebound and had his putback try blocked by Qudus Wahab. Kelly retrieved that miss and was fouled by Ace Baldwin, Jr., sending him to the line for a one-and-one chance.

He made both, and Baldwin’s long three-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the backboard, giving the Yellow Jackets (6-3), their second straight win and fourth in their last five games.

Penn State rallied from 10 points down in the latter stages of the second half, using a full-court press to generate turnovers and melt away the Jackets’ lead, which was 69-59 with 5:28 remaining. Puff Johnson, who scored 15 points, hit a layup after a turnover to give the Nittany Lions a 72-71 lead with 1:19 remaining.

Reeves, Jr., tied the game at 72 with a free throw at the 1:12 mark, and the score stayed 72-all at the end of regulation. The game went back-and-forth in the extra period, with Reeves, Jr., and Ndongo each scoring a pair of baskets before the final possession.

Gapare enjoyed his best game as a Yellow Jacket with his 20 points and six rebounds, and Ndongo finished with 12 points to go with his 19 boards, the most for a Tech player since Moses Wright grabbed 19 in a double-OT game against Georgia State on Nov. 25, 2020. Kelly’s free throws gave him 10 points in the game, along with a career-best six assists.

Tech surrendered 27 points off its 17 turnovers, but dominated the boards against the Nittany Lions to the tune of 54-32 and had a season-high 25 assists.

Clary led four Penn State players in double figures with 23 points, while Baldwin, Jr., scored 18 points with seven assists and D’Marco Dunn added 17. The Nittany Lions hit 12 three-point field goals in the game.

Saturday’s game began a stretch of five straight games away from Atlanta for the Yellow Jackets, who return home briefly, then travel Monday to Honolulu, Hawai’i to compete in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. Tech opens the tournament at 9 p.m. EST Dec. 21 against Massachusetts. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

 

Sophomore Tafara Gapare led the Jackets with 20 points. (photo by Brenden Willsch)

 

Post-Game Notes

TEAM TRENDS

  • Georgia Tech played its first overtime game of 2023-24 and first since Jan. 10 of last season at Notre Dame. Tech is 68-64 all-time in OT games, and has split its last 10 such games.
  • Tech is 4-1 since freshmen Baye Ndongo and Naithan George, and senior transfer Ebenezer Dowuona entered the starting lineup.
  • Tech is 19-8 all-time at Madison Square Garden and has won six of its last seven games in the World’s Most Famous Arena.
  • Tech has outrebounded seven of nine opponents and tied one this season, and has outrebounded its last two opponents, 99-60. For the season, Tech has a plus-6.0 rebounding margin.
  • Tech recorded a season-high 25 assists on its 32 made field goals against Penn State, and has assisted on 74 of its 107 made field goals in its last four games (69.1 pct.). Tech’s season assist rate is 56.0 percent.
  • Tech allowed 12 three-point field goals to Penn State, most since Cincinnati his 14 on Nov. 22. Still, Tech’s opponents have connected on just 28 percent of their three-point tries this season and ranked 12th in the nation entering Saturday’s game.
  • Tech’s 42 points in the paint and 35 points from its bench were both the second-most for the Jackets this season. Tech scored 50 points in the paint against Howard and 40 from its reserves against UMass Lowell.
  • Tech remains one of the nation’s better offensive rebounding teams this season, grabbing 20 against Penn State and averaging 15.1 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 and Penn State, 11 vs. Georgia, 12 vs. Cincinnati, 13 vs. Alabama A&M). Eleven players average 11 or more minutes per game.

 

PLAYER NOTES

  • Kyle Sturdivant played in his 100th game as a Yellow Jacket. He has played in 121 for his college career, the first 21 at Southern California.
  • Tafara Gapare’s 20 points against Penn State was a season high by far. He had previously netted eight against Alabama A&M. The 6-9 sophomore has scored 35 points in his last three games (11.9 ppg, 13-26 FG, 5-9 FT, 11 total rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals).
  • Baye Ndongo’s 19 rebounds against Penn State were the most for a Tech player since Moses Wright took 19 in a double-OT game against Georgia State on Nov. 25, 2020. It tied the most ever for a Tech freshman. Ivano Newbill, a red-shirt freshman at the time, grabbed 19 vs. Tulane on Dec. 27, 1990.
  • Ndongo, who also scored 12 points vs. Penn State, posted his first career double-double and second double-digit rebound game.
  • Ndongo is Tech’s rebound leader at 9.0 per game, its field goal percentage leader at 47.9 percent and its blocked shot leader at 2.0 per game.
  • Kowacie Reeves, Jr., has scored in double digits in seven of Tech’s nine games, including 15 vs. Penn State. He has hit 46.9 percent of his shots from the floor, a team-best 37.8 percent from three-point range and an ACC-best 89.3 percent from the foul line.
  • Miles Kelly extended his streak of double-digit scoring games to 17 after tallying 10 points against Penn State. He entered Saturday’s game No. 8 in the ACC in scoring and averages a team-high 16.2 points per game.
  • Kelly has hit 26-of-33 from the charity stripe in Tech’s last six games after going 12-of-21 in the first three games. He is now at 70.4 percent for the season after setting a Tech record by making 89.8 percent a year ago.
  • Deebo Coleman has committed just two turnovers in 216 minutes of action across nine games, and ranks No. 6 nationally in turnover rate (KenPom.com). He posted his seventh turnover-free game of the season against Penn State.
  • Freshman Naithan George has started Tech’s last five games at the point guard position and has averaged 5.6 points and 5.4 assists in those games. He had eight dimes against Alabama A&M and Penn State, and nine vs. Duke.

Miles Kelly scored the game-winning points with a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds left. (photo by Brenden Willsch)

 

Game Highlights

Post-Game Press Conference

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