Georgia Tech Basketball Opens NIT against Indiana

Quinton Stephens and the Yellow Jackets are in the NIT for the second straight year.
March 12, 2017

Georgia Tech (17-15) has received a bid to play in the National Invitation Tournament, drawing a No. 6 seed, and will face No. 3 seed Indiana of the Big Ten Conference in the opening round of the tournament at 9 p.m. Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.

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This is the 25th post-season appearance in Georgia Tech's basketball history, and the ninth appearance for the Yellow Jackets in the NIT. Indiana finished in 10th place in the Big Ten regular-season with a 7-11 record and went 18-15 overall. The Hoosiers have won both prior meetings against Tech, most recently in the 2007 ACC-Big Ten Challenge in Bloomington. This will be Indiana's first-ever visit to Georgia Tech.

Tech is in the Syracuse quadrant along with Georgia (19-14) and Belmont (22-6), which won the regular-season title in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Bulldogs and the Bruins meet in Athens Wednesday night, and the winner will meet the Tech-Indiana winner in the second round, date to be determined.

Also in the Syracuse quadrant, the Orange (18-14) will open at home against No. 8 UNC Greensboro (25-9), and No. 4 Monmouth (27-6) will host No. 5 Mississippi (20-13) in the opening round Tuesday night.

The Yellow Jackets have compiled a 17-15 overall record this season, winning four games against teams ranked in the top 25 of the RPI -- VCU, North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame -- and 10 games against teams that are playing in the NCAA Tournament. Tech defied pre-season projections of finishing 14th in the Atlantic Coast Conference and finished 11th with an 8-10 record, only the 16th team to win as many conference games in the program's 38-year history in the league.

 

 

"To get a post-season bid in this first year of a major rebuild is a great accomplishment for this program," said head coach Josh Pastner, in his first season. The way we overachieved and played this season, our players deserve this, and it gives us something to fight for. I thought we deserved the right based on our numbers and our wins, but we're fortunate to get in, and we don't take it for granted.

"It's a real honor to have an opportunity to play Indiana, one of the blue bloods of college basketball, and have them come to our building. This will be a great opportunity for our fans to see a great program in our gym. We're getting to play Tuesday night on ESPN, a prime time game, which is great exposure for our program. It's great for our program to play in this tournament and for what we're trying to build here."

Tech exceeded expectations this season primarily because of its stout defense, which leads the ACC in field goal percentage defense against conference teams and is No. 3 in scoring defense. The Jackets rank No. 7 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom.com. Despite that, however, the Jackets enter the NIT having lost four of its last five games, including a 61-59 loss to Pittsburgh in the opening round of the ACC Tournament.

Tech is led by 6-10 center Ben Lammers (San Antonio, Texas), who earned second-team All-ACC honors and was named the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year, and 6-4 guard Josh Okogie (Snellville, Ga.), who made the ACC All-Freshman team. Lammers is Tech's second-leading scorer (14.3 points per game) and leading rebounder (9.3 per game, third in the ACC) while ranking No. 3 in the nation in blocked shots. Okogie is Tech's top scorer at 15.5 points per game, the highest average for a Yellow Jacket freshman since Chris Bosh in 2003.

Pastner's team also gets scoring help from 6-2 guard Tadric Jackson (Tifton, Ga.) and 6-9 forward Quinton Stephens (Atlanta, Ga.). Jackson, a reserve for all but five games this season, ranks No. 3 on the team at 11.8 points per game and has reached double figures in nine of 12 games down the stretch. Stephens has broadened his overall game this season, averaging 9.9 points per game and ranks seventh in the ACC in rebounding at 7.6 per game.

NIT INFORMATION AND SCHEDULE

The NIT is a 32-team single-elimination tournament. The 32 teams are split into four groups of eight and seeded No. 1 through No. 8. The higher seeds host the lower seeds on their campus until the semifinals and finals, which take place in Madison Square Garden.

The field features 21 teams with at least 20 wins, 10 automatic qualifiers and representation from 20 of the 32 Division I conferences.

First round play is scheduled for Tuesday, March 14 and Wednesday, March 15, with the second round running March 16-20. Quarterfinals will be held on March 21 and 22 and four teams will advance to New York City for the semifinals on Tuesday, March 28. The NIT will conclude with the Championship game on Thursday, March 30. The semifinal and championship games will be played at New York's historic Madison Square Garden for the 80th year.

First round action, on campus sites, features number one seeds California, Illinois State, Iowa and Syracuse hosting CSU Bakersfield, UC Irvine, South Dakota and UNCG respectively.

Other first round games include Belmont at Georgia, Akron at Houston, Valparaiso at Illinois, Oakland at Clemson, Indiana at Georgia Tech, UT Arlington at BYU, Boise State at Utah, Richmond at Alabama, Ole Miss at Monmouth, College of Charleston at Colorado State, Colorado at UCF, and Fresno State at TCU.

NIT games are being televised by ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3. Additional NIT information can also be found on www.NCAA.com/NIT.

First Round -- March 14 and 15, campus sites
Second Round -- March 16 through 20, campus sites
Quarterfinals -- March 21 and 22, campus sites
Semifinals -- March 28, Madison Square Garden, New York
Championship -- March 30, Madison Square Garden, New York

TECH'S NIT HISTORY

Georgia Tech has a 10-8 record all-time in eight appearances in the National Invitation Tournament, reaching the finals once (1971) and the quarterfinals three other times. The Yellow Jackets are 4-1 in post-season NIT games at home.

• Tech's last appearance in the NIT occurred last season, when the Yellow Jackets reached the quarterfinals by defeating Houston at home, 81-62, and South Carolina on the road, 83-66, before falling to San Diego State on the road, 72-56.

• Tech has reached the quarterfinals three times in its last four NIT appearances, coming up one win short of playing in new York. The Jackets' 2002-03 team, when current NBA stars Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack were freshmen on a team that also included B.J. Elder, Tech's 12th all-time leading scorer and Marvin Lewis, No. 21 on the all-time scoring list, defeated Ohio State at home and Iowa on the road before an 80-72 loss to a Bob Knight-coached Texas Tech team in Lubbock.

• Tech also made the quarterfinals in 1998 with a team led by No. 2 all-time leading scorer Matt Harpring, defeating Seton Hall and Georgetown before losing to Penn State, 75-70. All three games were played at home.

• Tech reached the finals in 1971 behind its all-time leading scorer, Rich Yunkus, defeating LaSalle, Michigan and St. Bonaventure before losing to North Carolina in the championship game. The entire tournament was played at Madison Square Garden in those days.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN'S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech's men's basketball team is in its first year under head coach Josh Pastner. Tech has been a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1979, won three ACC Championships (1985, 1990, 1993), played in the NCAA Tournament 16 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 here.