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Tech Takes on UMass in Diamond Head Classic

GEORGIA TECH (6-3, 1-0 ACC) vs. MASSACHUSETTS (6-2, 0-0 Atlantic 10)

Thursday, December 21, 2023 | 9 p.m. EST | Honolulu, Hawai’i | Simplifi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center


 

Honolulu, Hawai’i – Looking for its first three-game winning streak of the 2023-24 season, Georgia Tech is in Honolulu, Hawai’i to compete in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, and faces Massachusetts in its opening-round game at 9 p.m. EST Thursday night at Simplifi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Tech (6-3) has won its last two games, having passed its first post-exam test with an 82-81 overtime win over Penn State Saturday at Madison Square Garden, That came a week after the Yellow Jackets defeated Alabama A&M, 70-49, Dec. 9 at home. The Yellow Jackets have won four of their last five games, having also knocked off No. 21 Mississippi State, 67-59, in the ACC/SEC Challenge and No. 7 Duke, 72-68, in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

UMass (6-2) also has won its last two games, defeating West Virginia, 87-79, last Saturday in the Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, Mass, a week after defeating UMass Lowell, 91-77, at home. The Minutemen have lost to Harvard at home, 78-75 in overtime on Nov. 17, and at Towson, 81-71, on Dec. 6.

Thursday’s game will be televised live on ESPN2 with a live stream 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 391.

THE TIP-OFF

  • Tech is looking for its first three-game winning streak this season on the heels of wins over Alabama A&M and Penn State. 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 2-2 against Quad 1 and Quad 2 teams this season, and UMass represents 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 playing its seventh holiday tournament in the state of Hawai’i, and for the second time in the Diamond Head Classic. The Jackets finished third in the 2019 Diamond Head Classic. Tech competed three times in the original Rainbow Classic, once in the Big Island Classic and once in the Maui Invitational.
  • Tech does not play at home again until Jan. 6 vs. Boston College. That’s 27 calendar days between home games, the most for the Jackets since the 1986-87 season, when they went 43 calendar days between home games (Dec. 1 vs. Penn to Jan. 14 vs. North Carolina A&T). Tech plays its next four games away from Atlanta, traveling to New York Dec. 16 to play Penn State at Madison Square Garden, and Honolulu, Hawai’i to compete in the Diamond Head Classic, Dec. 21-24. After the New Year, Tech goes to Tallahassee to resume its ACC schedule Jan. 3 at Florida State.
  • Tech is guaranteed to face five non-conference opponents that won 20 or more games in the 2022-23 season, including four that played in the post-season. Mississippi State (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.
  • Tech has started two freshmen – forward Baye Ndongo and point guard Naithan George – in its last five games, winning four of them. The Jackets have not had two freshmen in its regular starting lineup since the 2018-19 season (Michael Devoe, Khalid Moore), and have not had a freshman regularly start at point guard since Jose Alvarado in 2017-18.
  • Three of Tech’s four freshmen have seen action for the Yellow Jackets this season. Forward Ibrahima Sacko has played in eight games, averaging 12 minutes off the bench, while forward Ndongo and George debuted at Cincinnati and have played the last five.
  • Tech’s returning scholarship players – Miles Kelly, Dallan “Deebo” Coleman and Kyle Sturdivant – have accounted for 43.5 percent of Tech’s points this season (minus Lance Terry, who has yet to play). That number has diminished as freshmen Baye Ndongo and Naithan George, and sophomore Tafara Gapare have taken on greater loads. Last season the quartet accounted for 59.4 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ points during the 2022-23 season. They collectively shot 35.6 percent from three-point range.

Photos by Jalen Williams

SERIES VS. DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC TEAMS

  • Tech’s only previous meeting with Massachusetts occurred in the 1995 Jimmy V Classic in East Rutherford, N.J., in which the John Calipari-coached and No. 2-ranked Minutemen downed the Bobby Cremins-coached and No. 21-ranked Yellow Jackets, 75-67.
  • Tech has met UMass head coach Frank Martin once previously, an 83-66 win over his South Carolina team in the second round of the 2016 Post-Season NIT.
  • Hawai’i and Temple are the two teams in the tournament Tech has faced most often, five times each. Portland is the only team the Yellow Jackets have never faced.
  • Tech holds a 3-2 lead over Hawai’i, having defeated the Rainbows 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 Rainbows.
  • Temple has won three of five meetings against Tech, most recently in the 1996 Coaches vs. Cander Classic in Atlantic City, 76-58, in December of 1996.
  • Tech is 2-1 all-time vs, TCU, having lost to the Horned Frogs in the championship game of the 2017 Post-Season NIT, 88-56, at Madison Square Garden. The Jackets won twice at home against TCU in the 1960s.
  • Tech split a home-and-away series with Old Dominion in the mid-1980s, each team winning at home.
  • Tech won its only meeting with Nevada, 72-67 in the 2004 NCAA St. Louis Regional semifinal in St. Louis. The Jackets went on to beat Kansas in the regional final and advanced to the Final Four in San Antonio, where they defeated Oklahoma State in the semifinals and lost to Connecticut in the championship game.

TECH BASKETBALL IN HAWAI’I

Georgia Tech is playing its seventh holiday tournament in the state of Hawai’i, and is competing for the second time in the Diamond Head Classic. The Jackets finished third in the 2019 Diamond Head Classic., defeating Boise State and Hawai’i around a semifinal loss to Houston.

Tech competed three times in the original Rainbow Classic, winning the tournament in 1984, finishing third in 1988 and second in 1994. The Yellow Jackets finished third in the 1998 Big Island Classic in Hilo, and was the runner-up of the 2006 Maui Invitational.

Tafara Gapare comes into the Diamond Head Classic having averaged 11.9 points over his last three games. (photo by Brenden Willsch)

 


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 for Competitive Drive Initiative Turn 2. Initially launched on Nov. 7, CDI Turn 2 has reached its initial goal of raising $2.5 million in new gifts to the Alexander-Tharpe Fund’s Athletic Scholarship Fund and has a new goal of raising $3 million in new gifts to the A-T Fund by Dec. 31. Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Foundation will match eligible gifts to accelerate the impact for Tech athletics and, 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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