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Starting 5: Georgia Tech (3-1) in the NIT Season Tipoff

Nov. 25, 2015

By Jon Cooper | The Good Word

– Georgia Tech will spend Thanksgiving in Brooklyn, N.Y., playing a pair of games at Barclays Center as part of the NIT Season Tipoff. The Jackets play Arkansas beginning at 2 p.m. on Thursday then will play either No. 8/9 Villanova of the Big East or Stanford of the Pac-12 Friday.

The Yellow Jackets will try to rebound from their first loss of the season, a tough 69-68 defeat to East Tennessee State, Sunday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion. Marcus Georges-Hunt led the Jackets with 20 points, and Charles Mitchell had his fourth double-double of the season in as many games for the Jackets, who led 32-27 at the break and by three with 24 seconds remaining. But when Georges-Hunt made only one of two free throws, ironically his lone miss of the day in 10 attempts, with eight seconds remaining the door was open a crack and ETSU senior transfer Ge’Lawn Guyn hit a three-pointer with three seconds left for the winning points. The Jackets shot 3-for-10 from three in the second half and 40 percent overall, while the Bucs shot 57.7 percent in the second half and made 5-of-9 from three. The 68 points were Tech’s lowest total of the season.

The Razorbacks of the Southeastern Conference are coming off a resounding 93-75 thumping of Charleston Southern on Friday night at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. Junior guard Dusty Hannahs had a game-high 21 points to lead five double-digit scorers for Arkansas. Hannahs, a transfer from Texas Tech, shot 7-for-9, 5-for-5 from three-point range, as the Razorbacks, who never trailed, shot 57.1 percent in the first half in jumping out to a 49-32 halftime lead. They would lead by as much as 29 in the second half. Jabril Durham handed out a career-best 11 assists, seven in the first half. The five three-pointers by Hannahs marked the third time in three games that the Razorbacks had someone make five 3’s in a game. That’s something they did twice all last season.

On the other side of the bracket, Villanova blasted Akron, 75-56, in a battle of unbeatens, led by Josh Hart, who had 27 points and nine rebounds. Ryan Arcidiacono also had a big game, with 15 points, five rebounds and eight assists with no turnovers. The Wildcats have won all four games by a total of 115 points — a 28.75 ppg average margin of victory — and have won by at least 19 points in every game. Stanford dropped its second straight game, a 78-61 loss at St. Mary’s. Stanford led 37-33 at the half, but allowed the Gaels to shoot 60 percent in the second half, and 6-for-12 from three. The Cardinal could not keep up, shooting 36 percent and making only 1-of-9 from three. Travis Reed led the Cardinal with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Marcus Allen chipped in 14. Stanford comes in having lost back-to-back games but they are 2-0 on the season in NIT Tip-Off games.

Thursday’s game will be the fifth meeting between Georgia Tech and Arkansas, with the Jackets holding a 3-1 all-time edge. The teams have split two neutral-site games, the schools’ first meeting, a 72-42 loss at the Poinsettia Tournament in Greenville, S.C., on Dec. 30, 1961 and the most recent game, a win, in the 1984 Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii on Dec. 26, 1984. The Jackets are 1-2 all-time against the Cardinal, but won the lone neutral-court game, on Nov. 28, 1986, a 67-65 win at the Central Fidelity Classic in Richmond, Va., and Tech is 3-0 all-time against Villanova, with all three games played on neutral courts and all three coming between 1986 and ‘91. The first was a 66-61 win in the second-round of the 1986 NCAA Tournament on March 15, 1986. That was followed by a 99-87 win on Dec. 28, 1990 at the Sugar Bowl Tournament, played in the Superdome in New Orleans, and finally, an 80-59 win at the Omni in the ACC-Big East Challenge on Dec. 3, 1991.

The game can be seen on ESPNU with Doug Sherman and Len Elmore calling the action. Depending upon Thursday, the third-place game is set for Friday at 12:30 p.m. and also can be seen on ESPNU, while the championship game would be on ESPN2 starting at 3. Both Tech games can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, locally on 680 The Fan (680 AM, 93.7 FM), with Brandon Gaudin and Randy Waters on the call. Thursday’s game also can be heard on satellite radio on Sirius Channel 145. Tech fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on Ramblinwreck.com and the GT Gameday App. And now, the Starting Five for this Thursday’s and Friday’s games.

The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech got 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting, from Mark Price and used a strong second half to beat Arkansas, 72-52, at the Rainbow Classic on Dec. 26, 1984. John Salley had 14 on 6-for-9 shooting and Bruce Dalrymple added 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Jackets, who shot 59.6 percent for the game — actually 11 points higher than they shot at the foul line. Tech led 32-26 at the break, then pulled away in the second half.

Nick Knows: Forward Nick Jacobs was eight years away from being born the last time Georgia Tech met Arkansas, a year from being born the last time Tech played Villanova and was eight years old the last time the Jackets played Stanford but he is quite familiar with all three schools that the Jackets might see this week, having played them all. Jacobs did his most damage against Arkansas, having scored 33 points (8.3 per game) on 66.7 percent shooting (12-for-18), grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking four shots in four games. His best game against the Razorbacks came on Feb. 23, 2012, when he scored 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting (4-for-7 from the line), with four rebounds, a block and a steal. In 2012-13, as a sophomore, Jacobs actually met Arkansas, Stanford AND Villanova. He had 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting, 2-for-2 from the line with a rebound in 18 minutes on Jan. 31, 2014, in Alabama’s 59-56 win. On Nov. 16, 2013, he played 20 minutes, scored four points with five rebounds and two blocks in the Tide’s 77-55 win over Villanova, and, in that year’s postseason NIT, he went for 10 and six in 20 minutes, shooting 4-for-7, in a 66-54 win over fourth-seeded Stanford. Ironically, Jacobs’ and Alabama’s season would end in the next game, the NIT Quarterfinal, three days later, in a 58-57 loss to No. 2 Maryland, which included current Jackets teammate Charles Mitchell.

Tech Trivia: When Georgia Tech won the 2003 Preseason NIT who was named Tournament MVP?

Marcus Georges-Hot!: Senior guard Marcus Georges-Hunt appears to have shaken off any rust from his off-season and pre-season rehab. Over his last two games, Georges-Hunt is shooting 64.3 percent (9-for-14), 42.8 percent from three-point range (3-for-7) and 85.7 percent from the foul line (12-for-14), including tying his career-high with nine free throws made against ETSU. Marcus, who missed most of last season’s regular-season finale and the ACC Tournament with a broken bone in his right foot, and then spent the majority of the off-season rehabbing, started the season 11 for 26 (42.3 percent) and 1 for 8 from three 12.5 percent. His foul shooting has remained its usual solid, as he started going 11 for 13 in the first two games, including a 7-for-7 night in the opener against Cornell.

Fast Starter: For the second straight season Josh Heath is off to a fantastic start distributing the ball. Through four games the junior point has 19 assists against six turnovers with five steals. Last season, through four games, Heath had 25 assists vs. two turnovers and two steals. Against Green Bay, Heath scored 13 points, his season high and one off his high as a Jacket, against Clemson last Feb. 16.

The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech heads into this week’s games with a 12-4 all-time record in its four Preseason NIT appearances…The Yellow Jackets have hit at least 50 points in four halves this season. They didn’t have a 50-point half all last season and the 56-, 57- and 59-point halves this year are more than the team scored in six games last year…Trivia Answer: Forward Isma’il Muhammad won MVP honors, after scoring 38 points in 38 minutes on 80 percent shooting (16-for-20, including 7-for-7 in the championship game against Texas Tech), 67 percent from the line (6-for-9), with eight rebounds, four assists and a block as the Jackets upended top-ranked Connecticut, 77-61, in a preview of that year’s NCAA Championship game, then the 25th-ranked Red Raiders, 85-65…The Jackets have a done a great job protecting the rim, as they hold a 26-7 edge in blocked shots. Last year Tech was minus-18 in blocks (122-104)…With his 20 points against ETSU, Georges-Hunt passed Sammy Drummer, Phil Wagner and Terry Randall and now sits in 28th place all-time. His 1,194 points leave him 62 behind Drew Barry.

GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 16.8 ppg
ARKANSAS SCORING LEADER: Dusty Hannahs, 19.3 ppg

STANFORD SCORING LEADER: Marcus Allen, 16.0 ppg

VILLANOVA SCORING LEADER: Josh Hart, 16.5 ppg


GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Charles Mitchell, 11.5 rpg
ARKANSAS REBOUNDING LEADER: Moses Kingsley, 10.0 rpg

STANFORD REBOUNDING LEADER: Michael Humphrey, 8.0 rpg

VILLANOVA REBOUNDING LEADER: Daniel Ochefu, 10.8 rpg


GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Josh Heath, 4.8 apg
ARKANSAS ASSISTS LEADER: Jabril Durham, 8.3 apg
STANFORD ASSISTS LEADER: Christian Sanders, 4.5 apg
VILLANOVA ASSISTS LEADER: Ryan Arcidiacono, 5.5 apg

GEORGIA TECH PPG: 90.0 ppg
OPP. PPG: 73.5 ppg
ARKANSAS PPG: 86.3 ppg
OPP. PPG: 77.0 ppg

STANFORD PPG: 79.2 ppg
OPP. PPG: 77.8 ppg
VILLANOVA PPG: 84.8 ppg
OPP. PPG: 56.0 ppg

ARKANSAS Player To Watch – Dusty Hannahs: Want to see instant offense? Keep an eye on the 6-3, 203-pound redshirt junior guard, who will come off the bench firing. Hannahs is averaging 19.3 ppg and leads the nation in three-point shooting (minimum 11 attempts), making 11 of 16 attempts (.688). He’s one of five Arkansas players in the last 28 years to score 20 points in his Razorbacks debut and one of four in that same span to hit five three-point shots in his debut. Hannahs’ 5-for-5 game against Charleston Southern made him only the fourth player in program history to make at least five 3’s without a miss. He’s as reliable at the foul line, where he’s 11-for-11 so far this season and, dating back to his final season at Texas Tech, has made 26 straight free throw attempts.

STANFORD Player To Watch – Travis Reid: The 6-8, 245-pound forward has exploded his sophomore season, going for 14.8 points on 64.9 percent shooting, and 6.3 rebounds. He’s coming off an 18-and-7 effort at St. Mary’s. The 18 points were a career-best while his seven rebounds were a game-high. Reid is a former two-sport star at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, who gave up football to concentrate on basketball his senior season. If there is a weak-link to his game it’s at the free throw line, where he’s shooting 44 percent (11-for-25).

VILLANOVA Player To Watch – Josh Hart: The 6-5, 205-pound junior wing, has been a huge part of Villanova’s fast start. Last season’s Big East Sixth Man of The Year was the Big East and Philadelphia Big Five Player of the Week, averaging 18.7 points and 7.0 rebounds, including a 27 and nine game against Akron, the 27 points are a career high. Hart is shooting 52 percent, 45 percent from three and 85 from the line. He also hits the boards, as his 6.8 rebounds per game are second on the team, and is solid on both ends of the floor as his 20 defensive rebounds are second on the team and his seven steals and two blocks are tied for second.

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