Georgia Tech advances to NIT semis in another big step for team, Pastner

Georgia Tech guard Tadric Jackson goes up for a dunk attempt as Mississippi forward Sebastian Saiz (11) defends in Tuesday’s NIT quarterfinals in Oxford, Miss. The Jackets won 74-66 to advance to the NIT’s semifinals next week in New York. (Bruce Newman/The Oxford Eagle)

I seldom pay attention to the NIT. You seldom pay attention to the NIT. Most players in the NIT seldom pay attention to the NIT because more often than not they’re thinking, “I’d rather be in the NCAA tournament or taking the day off.”

But that hasn’t been the case with Georgia Tech, which has done anything but the expected this season. After going 8-10 in the ACC in a year when many, including their new head coach, wondered if they would win a conference game, the Jackets have used the NIT as validation of their first-season turnaround under Josh Pastner.

Tech’s 74-66 win over Mississippi in Oxford Monday night enabled the Jackets to advance to the semifinals of the NIT next weekend in Madison Square Garden in New York. Yes, they’re still playing. The NIT is not the NCAA but it is a stage, and a stage Pastner and Tech deserve to be on. The Jackets improved to 20-15 overall and won a big road game in a season during which they had gone only 2-10 in opponents’ arenas.

The same team that struggled to defeat Shorter College in overtime in an exhibition opener looked like the more veteran and poised group down the stretch at Ole Miss. The Jackets worked their half-court offense for open shots, drew fouls and made a couple of key stops in final few minutes, including Corey Heyward taking a charge after the Rebels had cut the lead to four points.

There are only two ACC teams left in the postseason. North Carolina is in the Sweet Sixteen. Georgia Tech is in the “Little Final Four,” if you will. And the Jackets have elevated the NIT’s level of interest.

EARLIER: Newness of Kirby Smart has worn off at Georgia; now it’s about winning

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13 comments
DOROTHY5193
DOROTHY5193

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Zapp
Zapp

I noticed Mississippi's big man protected the basket by bodying most of the smaller players to stop them from dunking.  Look at the picture, and in the NCAA that is a foul.  I think the referees knew it would be a blow out if he fouled out, so they let him get away with it.

E983
E983

Let's see what happens next season. Let's also keep a close eye on UGA.

THWG0415
THWG0415

And that new PG is going to help a lot. I think with time he will be a upgrade, but we need some scores, we really do.

THWG0415
THWG0415

Suprisingly good article jeff, CJP has done more with less than any coach of recent knowledge. I cant wait to see what the future holds.

drew56
drew56

Tech has been a pleasure to watch this season, playing with an energy and passion that's been lacking for some time.  They appears to be in good hands with Pastner.  


With Lammers, Okogie, Jackson back next year, along with a promising new point guard (http://www.ramblinwreck.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/110916aaa.html), the future is looking up for GT basketball.

Sneed3201
Sneed3201

Heyward took the charge, not Okogie

TOJacket
TOJacket

NIT....New Improved Tech.

UncleMike
UncleMike

8-2-1 That is Schultz's DWAG to Tech score...talk about biased!

donnafrob
donnafrob

Was it Okogie who took that charge?

wreckbone
wreckbone

I love this coach and what he has done with the team.  Imagine a good 4 and a 3 to pick up with the pointguard coming, and next year can be special too!  I really liked this hire last year.  His energy and attention to detail is evident.  We keep outplaying veteran teams because EVERY team was a veteran team this year.  We had the least experienced team in the NATION.  We didn't have enough offensive firepower to keep up in the NCAA's most likely.  But we play great defense and in the NIT they keep lining them up and we keep knocking them down.  WE are headed to the Garden for a trip well deserved.  Didn't know much about the AD that left other than he really didn't seem engaged here.  But without him we probably would not have Pastner.  After the hire last season people squabbled over it.  I thought who could you get that was better.  The future looks bright.  He will compete with top 6 Defense in the NATION?  That is sick.  And he did that playing against about half the teams that had better talent than we did.  Stagnant offense?  Not here!  Go Jackets!! 

NorwegianBlue
NorwegianBlue

Pastner is legit. If I could buy stock in the program I would. If I could afford season tickets I would buy them. If I had a son who was a top basketball prospect in this state, I would send him to GT. Tech basketball is back, in a big way, and everyone needs to get on board the bandwagon while there's still room.