@GTMBB Visits South Carolina in NIT 2nd Round

Bobby Cremins was in his third season as Tech's head coach the last time the Yellow Jackets and Gamecocks met on the hardwood.
March 20, 2016

THE FLATS - Georgia Tech (20-14), seeded fourth in the National Invitation Tournament, travels to top-sseded South Carolina (25-8) for its second-round game, which tips off at 9 p.m. Monday night at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. This is the 24th post-season appearance in Georgia Tech’s basketball history, and the eighth appearance for the Yellow Jackets in the NIT.

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The Yellow Jackets have compiled a 20-14 overall record this season, the most wins by a Tech team since the 2009-10 season, and went 8-10 in the ACC, only the 15th team to win as many conference games in the program’s 37-year history in the league. This Tech team is the 15th in program history to win 20 games, and only the fourth since 1996.

The Jackets go to Columbia having won seven of their last nine games, including an 81-62 victory over Houston Wednesday night at home in the NIT opening round. Over its last six regular season games, Tech defeated Florida State, No. 19 Notre Dame, Clemson, Boston College and Pittsburgh, and lost only to No. 11 Louisville, on the road by three. The Jackets then defeated Clemson in the first round of the ACC Tournament before falling to fourth-ranked Virginia.

South Carolina began the season by winning its first 15 games before falling to Alabama on the road in its third Southeastern Conference game. The Gamecocks finished the regular season in third place in the SEC (11-7) before losing to Georgia in their first SEC Tournament game. South Carolina defeated High Point, 88-66, in its NIT opener.

Monday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN and will be streamed live on the WatchESPN app. Radio coverage of the game is provided by the Georgia Tech/IMG Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on 680 the Fan (680 AM and 93.7 FM).

TRANSITION POINTS

Free basketball - Georgia Tech is playing in the post-season for the first time since 2010, when the Yellow Jackets last played in the NCAA Tournament. Tech is in the NIT for the first time since 2003, and has advanced past the first round for the fourth time.

Twenty-something - A win for Georgia Tech in the first round of the NIT gave the Yellow Jackets their first 20-win season since 2009-10, and their fourth in the last 20 years. Tech has won 20 games in a season 15 times in its history.

Next up - The winner of Monday’s game will face either No. 2 seed San Diego State (26-9) or No. 3 seed Washington (19-14) on Wednesday night. The Aztecs and Huskies play at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time Monday night. Tech would have to travel the venue of the winner should they defeat South Carolina. The Gamecocks would play the winner at home.

Common opponents - Tech and South Carolina have both played Arkansas, Clemson, Georgia and Tennessee this season. The Yellow Jackets went 4-1 against those teams, while the Gamecocks went 3-4, losing to Georgia three times.

On the road - Tech is 4-7 in road games this season, winning at Tulane, NC State, Florida State and Boston College.

Senior citizens - Five Georgia Tech seniors - Marcus Georges-Hunt, Charles Mitchell, Nick Jacobs, Adam Smith and James White - have accounted for 135 of a possible 170 starts this season, 62.2 percent of the minutes played and 76.2 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ scoring.

Experienced - According to KenPom.com, Tech has the ninth most experienced roster in the nation, with an average number of years’ experience at 2.37. Tech has five seniors (one a fifth-year), three juniors (one in his fourth year in the program) and four sophomores (one in his third year).

Finishing strong - Georgia Tech won five of its last six regular-season games (the lone loss by three points at No. 11 Louisville) and won six of eight games entering the NIT. It was the Yellow Jackets’ best finish since they won seven of nine to close out the 2001-02 regular season.

Winning - Georgia Tech has achieved its highest win total, both overall and in the ACC, under Brian Gregory, and has its most wins overall since 2009-10 (23-13) and most in the ACC since 2006-07 (8-8).

Historical look - In Tech’s 37 years in the ACC, 15 Yellow Jacket teams have won eight or more ACC games in the regular season. Only four have won nine or more.

No cigar - ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) has Tech No. 48 with an overall schedule strength ranking of No. 3. The Yellow Jackets are the highest-rated team to not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Close calls - Tech’s 18 regular-season ACC games were decided by an average of 5.2 points, only one of those by double digits (66-52 loss at Clemson on Feb. 13). The Yellow Jackets won their eight ACC games this season by an average of 4.3 points, and their 10 losses came by an average of 6.3 points. Tech’s last seven games before the ACC Tournament quarterfinal loss to Virginia, which included six wins, were decided by a total of 24 points.

Close calls II - Tech lost by double digits only three times all year, two of those to top-2 seeds in the NCAA Tournament - Villanova (69-52) back in November and No. 4 Virginia (72-52) in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. Until defeating Houston Wednesday night, Tech had not won a game by more than seven points since Dec. 23.

Tough at home - Tech finished the season 14-5 at home, percentage-wise its best home record, and its most home wins, in five seasons under Brian Gregory. The Jackets, who closed out the home schedule with five straight wins, have not had a better home record since going 14-2 in 2009-10.

All-Conference - Marcus Georges-Hunt was named second-team All-ACC by the league’s coaches and third-team by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. He is the second all-conference honoree for Tech under Brian Gregory (Daniel Miller third-team in 2014).

Old school - All five of the schools that Tech’s four transfers attended previously (Adam Smith attended two schools before Tech) are in the postseason. Maryland (Charles Mitchell), UNC-Wilmington (Adam Smith) and Arkansas-Little Rock (James White) are in the NCAA tournament. Alabama (Nick Jacobs) and Virginia Tech (Smith) are in the NIT.

TECH’S NIT HISTORY

Georgia Tech has a 9-7 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 before this season occurred in 2003, 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. That team defeated Ohio State at home and Iowa on the road before falling a game short of going to New York in an 80-72 loss to a Bob Knight-coached Texas Tech team.

• 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.

INSIDE THE SERIES WITH SOUTH CAROLINA

On the list of Georgia Tech’s most frequently played opponents not in the Atlantic Coast Conference, South Carolina ranks ninth with 32 meetings in the series.

However, the Gamecocks are No. 2 on the list of foes played most who were not in the Southeastern Conference when the Yellow Jackets were also in the SEC. Mercer and Tech have played the most times (35).

The teams have not played since 1984, when the Yellow Jackets and the Gamecocks completed a two-game, home-and-away series with Tech taking a 68-50 win at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. South Carolina won the last meeting in Columbia, 61-53, the year before.

• The schools were both members of the Southern Intercollegiate Conference (SIC) in the 1920s and early 1930s before the Yellow Jackets joined the SEC in 1932. The Gamecocks were charter members of the ACC but left the conference in June of 1971, eight years before Tech joined the ACC. Tech left the SEC in 1964, and South Carolina joined that league in 1991.

Connections - Legendary Tech coach Bobby Cremins (1981-2000) starred on South Carolina teams for three seasons (1968-70), helping the Gamecocks to a 61-17 overall record and a 34-8 mark in the ACC, including a perfect 14-0 conference slate and a regular-season ACC title in 1970. He also was an assistant coach at South Carolina from 1973-75.

Connections II - Two former members of head coach Bobby Cremins staff have also coached at South Carolina. George Felton, a Tech assistant from 1981-86, served as the Gamecocks head coach from 1987-91. Perry Clark, a Cremins assistant at Tech from 1982-88, is in his third season on Frank Martin’s Gamecock staff.

Connections III - South Carolina director of golf Puggy Blackmon was Georgia Tech’s head men’s golf coach from 1982-1995, leading the Yellow Jackets to 11 NCAA Championship appearances and five Atlantic Coast Conference titles. Current Gamecock men’s golf coach Bill McDonald played at Tech from 1984-88, earning honorable mention All-America honors twice.

ABOUT GEORGIA TECH MEN’S BASKETBALL
Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team is in its fifth year under head coach Brian Gregory. The Yellow Jackets have 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).

For more information on Tech basketball, visit Ramblinwreck.com. Tickets for men’s basketball can be purchased here.