Cal. State – Bakersfield vs Georgia Tech
When: 7:00 PM ET, Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
NEW YORK – (Special Preview by Sports Direct) – Georgia Tech has embraced the challenge of the NIT and played its way to Madison Square Garden in New York for a semifinal matchup with WAC regular-season champion Cal State Bakersfield on Tuesday night. The Yellow Jackets, who came up a few wins short of an NCAA Tournament bid, beat higher seeds Indiana and Ole Miss on the way to their first NIT semifinal since 1971 when they lost to North Carolina in the championship game.
“People didn’t expect a whole lot from this team going into the season, so this is a great statement saying that we’re a great team,” Georgia Tech center Ben Lammers told reporters. “Hopefully, we can continue out this season on a win streak and continue it on to next season.” Freshman guard Josh Okogie is averaging 21.7 points in the tournament on 53.7 percent shooting from the field for the Yellow Jackets, who have recorded 61 assists on 80 made field goals in the last three games. Bakersfield lost to New Mexico State in the WAC final before winning three straight on the road as an eighth seed en route to New York, including an impressive 73-66 triumph at top seed California, and stands one victory from a possible championship game appearance against either TCU or Central Florida on Thursday. “They told us we were the eight seed in the beginning, but I knew we had a good basketball team,” Roadrunners coach Rod Barnes told reporters. “We’re still in the stage where we have to earn people’s respect. … I think our team actually thrives off of that.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD (25-9): The Roadrunners, who reached the Division I NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2016, are 30-for-59 from 3-point range in their first NIT after shooting 33.5 percent from behind the arc during the opening 31 games. Junior guard Shon Briggs has stepped up in the tournament, averaging 17 points to push his season mark to 7.4, while senior guard Dedrick Basile has chipped in with 16.3 to go along with four assists. Senior guard Jaylin Airington (14.4) is the team’s leading scorer overall and sophomore backcourt mate Damiyne Durham (12.8) is next after averaging 14.3 in the NIT.
ABOUT GEORGIA TECH (20-15): The Yellow Jackets have put 20-win seasons back-to-back for the first time since 2003-04 and 2004-05 after allowing just 62 points per contest and shooting 48.8 percent from the field in the NIT. Okogie has led the way while Lammers contributed 15 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.3 blocks (eight against Ole Miss in the quarterfinals) in the last three games – making 15-of-20 shots the past two. Senior forward Quinton Stephens has raised his production in the NIT, averaging 16.3 points to go along with eight rebounds in the three games, to improve his overall numbers to 10.5 and 7.7, respectively.
1. Georgia Tech junior guard Tadric Jackson is averaging 13 points in the NIT, but is just 6-for-36 from beyond the arc in his last six contests.
2. Bakersfield allows 37 percent shooting from the field to rank third in the nation and 63.5 points per contest overall.
3. The Yellow Jackets are 16-0 when scoring at least 70 points and is 18-0 when leading with five minutes to go.