Georgia Tech Basketball Travels to Ole Miss for NIT Quarterfinal
Yellow Jackets and Rebels tip off at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday night at Oxford, Miss.
Oxford, Miss. - Having made it to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament for the second straight year, No. 6-seeded Georgia Tech goes on the road for the first time to face the No. 5 seed, Ole Miss, at 9 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday night in Oxford, Miss.
Tech (19-15, 8-10 ACC) defeated No. 6-seed Indiana, 75-63, Tuesday, and No. 7 Belmont, Sunday in its first two NIT games, both at home. The Yellow Jackets, 2-10 on the road this season, are playing in their ninth NIT and bidding to return to New York for the first time since 1971, when the entire NIT was played at Madison Square Garden.
Ole Miss (22-13, 10-8 ACC), playing in its 12th NIT, advanced to the quarterfinals by winning two games on the road, 91-83 over Monmouth Tuesday night, and 85-80 over Syracuse Sunday. The Rebels, 13-5 at home this season, tied for fifth place in the Southeastern Conference this season with Alabama and Vanderbilt.
Tuesday's game will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Live streaming is available on the WatchESPN app. Radio coverage is provided by Tech's flagship station, 680 the Fan (680 AM/93.7 FM).
THE STARTING LINEUP
Georgia Tech is playing in the NIT for the ninth time, and has made it to the quarterfinals for the fourth time in its last five appearances (1998, 2003, 2016, 2017). The Yellow Jackets have not been able to advance past that point, however. This is the 25th post-season appearance overall in program history.
Tech and Ole Miss are in the Syracuse quadrant, where the top-seeded Orange fell to the Rebels Saturday. The winner of Tuesday night's game will advance to the semifinals on March 28 at New York's Madison Square Garden against the winner of the California bracket, in which CSU-Bakersfeld, Colorado State, UT-Arlington and Akron are still alive.
In Ole Miss, Tech is facing a team 17 spots lower (No. 77) than its second-round foe, Belmont (No. 60), but higher than its first-round foe, Indiana (No. 79) in CBSSports.com's RPI rankings. The Yellow Jackets are ranked No. 106.
Tech is one win away from 20 victories in a season for the second straight year and for the 16th time in program history.
Tech is one of two teams to finish the regular season with a winning record (3-2) against the top four seeds in last week's ACC Tournament (Virginia is the other).
Tech has the sixth most efficient defense in the country according to KenPom.com, giving up 90.6 points per 100 possessions. The Yellow Jackets are the highest-ranked team in the nation in that category not playing in the NCAA Tournament. Tech ranks 13th nationally in field goal percentage defense and 48th in scoring defense against all opponents. Against ACC teams this season, the Jackets ranked No. 1 in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (40.7 pct.), and No. 3 in scoring defense (68.8 ppg).
Tech managed to win eight ACC games this year and reach the post-season despite ranking 14th in the ACC in scoring, 15th in field goal percentage and three-point percentage, and 14th in free throw percentage. The Jackets rank No. 270 in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com.
Tech has averaged 73 points and is shooting 47.4 percent from the floor, 38.2 percent from three-point range, in its two NIT games. The Jackets also have a 40-to-17 assist/turnover ratio and have held their two opponents to 35.5 percent shooting from the floor.
Quinton Stephens and Josh Okogie are pacing Georgia Tech in the NIT, averaging 19.5 points per game each. They have combined to hit 30-of-50 shots from the floor (60 percent) and post 16 assists to just three turnovers.
Ben Lammers' +10.6 per game scoring average increase over the 2015-16 season is the third-best in the ACC, behind John Collins of Wake Forest and Matt Farrell of Notre Dame. But Tadric Jackson (+7.4), Quinton Stephens (+5.5) and Josh Heath (+2.9) have more than doubled their scoring outputs over last season.
Three keys for Tech to win - The Jackets are 19-3 this season when they shoot a better percentage from the floor than their opponent, are 15-0 when scoring 70 points and 18-3 when attempting more free throws than the opponent.
Georgia Tech is 4-4 against teams in the top 25 of CBSSports.com's RPI rankings as of Monday, and has beaten nine top-100 teams this season.
Georgia Tech has defeated three AP top-25 teams this season (No. 9 North Carolina, No. 6 Florida State, No. 14 Notre Dame), the most in one season for the program since the Yellow Jackets went 4-3 vs. top-25 teams in 2003-04. Tech has beaten as many as three top-25 teams in one season six times prior to this season.
Tech has beaten two AP top-10 teams this season -- No. 9 North Carolina and No. 6 Florida State -- the first time the Yellow Jackets have beaten multiple top-10 teams in the same season since 2004-05 (No. 5 Wake Forest in the regular season and No. 2 North Carolina in the ACC Tournament). It is the first time since 2003-04 that the Jackets have beaten multiple top-10 teams in the regular season (No. 1 Connecticut, No. 10 Wake Forest, No. 3 Duke). It is the 18th time in program history that Tech has defeated multiple top-10 teams in the same season.
COACH PASTNER AUDIO FROM MONDAY
TECH'S NIT HISTORY
Georgia Tech has an 12-8 record all-time in nine appearances in the National Invitation Tournament, reaching the finals once (1971) and the quarterfinals four other times. The Yellow Jackets are 6-1 in post-season NIT games at home, 1-5 on the road.
Tech has reached the quarterfinals four times in its last five NIT appearances, coming up one win short of playing in New York the first three times. Last season, 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.
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.
SERIES NOTES VS. OLE MISS
Georgia Tech and Ole Miss played 18 times while the Yellow Jackets were members of the Southeastern Conference, winning 11 of those games.
In the only meeting between the two teams since Tech exited the SEC in 1964, the Rebels captured a 77-67 victory three years ago in a semifinal game of the Barclays Center Classic. In that game, center Demarco Cox scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. After that season, he transferred to Tech and played the 2014-15 season with the Yellow Jackets.
One of Tech's wins over Ole Miss as a member of the SEC was a 58-47 decision to win the 1938 SEC Championship in Baton Rouge, La. It was Tech's only SEC title in 32 years in the conference.
Tech coach Josh Pastner lost his only two meetings against Ole Miss in seven seasons as the head coach at Memphis, both against the Rebels' current head coach, Andy Kennedy.
Another connection between Ole Miss and Tech is the Rebels' junior guard Cullen Neal, whose father, Craig, played for the Yellow Jackets from 1983-88, red-shirting in the 1984-85 season. The elder Neal, currently the head coach at New Mexico, finished his career as Tech's career assist leader (659), a record which has since been surpassed by Travis Best (692( and then Drew Barry (724). Neal still holds the single-season record with 303 in his senior year.
Georgia: The Yellow Jackets and Rebels both lost to Georgia at home, Tech by a 60-43 count on Dec. 20, and Ole Miss by a 69-47 score on Jan. 11.
Syracuse: Ole Miss won at Syracuse, 85-80, Saturday to advance to Tuesday night's quarterfinals NIT game, while Tech split with the Orange, winning at home, 71-65, and losing on the road, 90-61.
Tennessee: Tech lost on the road to Tennessee, 81-58, on Dec. 3. The Rebels split with the Volunteers, winning at home, 80-69, on Jan. 17, and losing in Knoxville, 77-65, on Feb. 8.
Virginia Tech: Ole Miss and Georgia Tech both lost to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, the Rebels by an 80-75 score on Dec. 11, Tech by a 62-61 score on Jan. 18.
TRENDING FROM THE BELMONT GAME...
The Yellow Jackets improved to 17-4 at home this season with its victory over Belmont, establishing a new program record for home wins in a season. The 2006-07 team went 16-1 at home.
Tech's attendance of 7,176 Sunday against Belmont was higher than four of its ACC home games this season.
Tech led at the half (30-26) for the 17th time this year and improved to 15-2 when doing so.
Tech improved to 17-0 this season when leading at the 5-minute mark of the second half.
Tech led by as many as 23 points against Belmont (54-31 with 11:17 left in the second half), the Jackets' biggest lead against a Division I team since holding a 29-point lead against Florida State on Jan. 25 (Tech led Tusculum by 40 and won by 38).
Tech scored 70 or more points for the 15th time this season and remained undefeated when doing so. The Yellow Jackets have scored 70-plus for the second straight game after averaging just 60.3 points over its previous four games.
Tech shot 46.4 percent from the floor (55.2 percent in the second half) against Belmont. The Yellow Jackets have connected on 47.3 percent of their shots from the floor in their two NIT games, 53.4 percent in the second half of those games. Tech had connected on just 42.4 percent over its previous four games.
Tech outshot Belmont and improved to 19-3 this season when it has a higher field goal percentage than its opponent.
Tech held Belmont to 33.3 percent shooting from the floor, more than 14 percent beneath its season norm of 47.4 percent. Belmont was the 18th opponent Tech has held under 40 percent this season. The Yellow Jackets held Indiana 10 percentage points beneath its shooting percentage for the season. The Yellow Jackets led the ACC in field goal percentage defense in conference games, and have the third-lowest yield (39.5 percent) against all comers.
Tech held the Bruins 20 points under their season average of 77.4 points per game, and held Indiana 17 under its norm of 80.3 (63).
Belmont entered Sunday's game connecting on 34.2 percent of its threes and hit 33.3 percent (11-of-33) against the Jackets. The Bruins went 10-of-30 from inside the arc. Tech held Indiana to 5-for-19 (26.3 percent) after the Hoosiers had come in hitting 38.3 percent. The Yellow Jackets have held 13 opponents under 30 percent from beyond the arc this season.
Tech shot the three well for the second straight game, going 6-for-15 against Belmont after hitting 7-for-19 against Indiana. The Yellow Jackets are 13-for-34 (38.2 percent) in their two NIT games. The Jackets rank last in the ACC in three-point shooting, and had made only 22.4 percent over its four games before the NIT.
Tech turned the ball over just eight times, the third consecutive game the Jackets have stayed under 10. Tech committed a season-low seven against Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament, and nine against Indiana.
Tech has forced 33 turnovers and capitalized on them for 49 points in its two NIT games.
Tech has blocked 200 shots this season, nine shy of the school record of 209 set by the 1997-98 team. Alvin Jones, then a freshman, blocked a school-record 141 shots that year,
Tech started Josh Heath, Corey Heyward, Ben Lammers, Josh Okogie and Quinton Stephens for the 15th time this season, and for the 14th time in Tech's last 15 games. Tadric Jackson had started Tech's game against Pitt in the ACC Tournament in place of Heyward, who moved back into the lineup against Indiana. Three Yellow Jackets -- Lammers, Okogie and Stephens -- have started every game this season.
Tech has played its last 11 games without backup forward Abdoulaye Gueye (fractured wrist).
Pastner meter 1 (assists to made field goals): Tech assisted on its first 23 made field goals in the game and finished with 23 on 26 field goals (88.4 percent). The Jackets have 40 assists on 53 field goals in its two NIT games combined. It has improved Tech's season rate to 62.2 percent, (Tech has a 63.2 percent rate in ACC games).
Pastner meter 2 (free throws made to opponents' attempts): Tech made 13-of-21 free throws to Belmont's 4-of-5 (goal of making more than opponent tries accomplished). The Yellow Jackets maintain a 67.8-percent clip in all games this season, 69.8 percent in ACC games.
Pastner meter 3 (guard rebounding): Tech's guards combined for 14 of Tech's 30 defensive rebounds, 70 of 155 in Tech's last four games.
In his last game ever at McCamish Pavilion, Quinton Stephens scored a career high 23 points, and also established career highs by hitting 10 shots from the floor in 17 attempts. He also made 3-of-7 from behind the three-point arc. Stephens has averaged 18.3 points over his last three games, connecting on 21-of-41 shots from the floor, 10-of-24 on threes. The effort has returned him to double-figures for the season at 10.5 points per game. It was his 20th double-digit scoring game of the year. The senior forward added four assists and two steals with no turnovers in 36 minutes.
Stephens played in the 132nd game of his career, which is a Tech record. He broke the previous mark of 130 when he stepped on the floor for the Indiana game. The previous record was shared by Malcolm Mackey (1990-93), Marvin Lewis (2001-04), Anthony McHenry (2002-05) and Marcus Georges-Hunt (2013-16).
Ben Lammers notched his 15th double-double this season, scoring 14 points (6-9 FG) with 10 rebounds. He ranks third in the ACC in double-doubles. It was his 29th double-figure scoring game this season, and his 17th double-digit rebounding game. He ranks third in the ACC with 9.4 per game. Lammers added two assists and four steals in 36 minutes.
Lammers did not block a shot for the first time since Jan. 21 at Virginia and for just the third time this season. He has 109 blocks for the season, the second-highest season total ever for a Tech player. Alvin Jones holds the Tech season record with 141 in 1997-98. Lammers is averaging 3.30 blocks per game, which ranks No. 3 nationally and leads the ACC. He also holds sixth place at Tech in career blocks with 160.
Josh Okogie scored 15 points (5-of-9 FG, 2-of-3 3P, 3-4 FT), his 29th double-digit game this year. Okogie has reached double figures in 13 straight games, last failing to do so vs. Notre Dame on Jan. 28. He is averaging a team-high 15.8 points per game, and is Tech's highest-scoring freshman since Dion Glover (18.4 ppg) in 2002-03. Only six times in Tech history has a freshman led the Jackets in scoring.
Okogie surpassed 500 points for the season against Indiana, and now has 536. The only other freshmen in Tech history to score 500 or more points were Kenny Anderson (721 in 35 games), Stephon Marbury (679 in 36 games) and Mark Price (568 in 28 games).
Okogie added five assists and eight rebounds in 34 minutes, and has nine assists with just two turnovers and 15 rebounds in Tech's two NIT games.
Tadric Jackson scored 12 points (4-for-13 from the floor) for his 21st double-figure game this season and 11th in Tech's last 14 games. The junior guard is Tech's third leading scorer (12.1 ppg), and is bidding to finish the season as the fourth reserve in Tech history to average in double figures. Jackson added three assists and three rebounds in 30 minutes.
Stephens and Okogie are Tech's leading scorers in the NIT at 19.5 points per game, Stephens has hit 16-of-26 from the floor and 7,of-14 from three-point range. He also has averaged 8.5 rebounds and has accumulated seven assists with just one turnover. Okogie has hit 58.3 percent of his shots from the floor, 9-of-13 from the free throw line, and has nine assists with two turnovers. Lammers has averaged 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds, with five assists, five blocks and six steals.
Corey Heyward played 16 turnover-free minutes, and has committed just four turnovers in 247 minutes over his last 15 games. He has played 23 turnover-free games this season.
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.
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