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Georgia Tech Basketball: Jackets top Arkansas, advance to NIT Season Tipoff finals

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The Jackets downed the Hogs on Thanksgiving Day by a final score of 83-73, notching win number four on the season.

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech basketball improved to 4-1 on the young season early Thursday afternoon with an impressive 83-73 Thanksgiving Day victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Jackets, who started the season 3-0 before falling to East Tennessee State on Sunday, were able to lean on strong performances by their strong core of veterans to get that important fourth victory of the year and second versus the SEC.

Brian Gregory shook up the lineup a bit following the upset loss to ETSU, electing to start Travis Jorgenson and bring former starter Adam Smith off the bench. The strategy proved effective, with Smith contributing 19 points and Jorgenson adding 4 assists to Tech's team total of 15. Senior Marcus Georges-Hunt, Tech's 28th leading scorer in school history, added 19 points and 6 rebounds in what was yet another impressive effort on his part. Brian Gregory referenced getting him more involved after the last loss and that really showed versus the Razorbacks - he led the Jackets with 13 shot attempts. Perhaps the biggest day of all was had by senior forward Charles Mitchell, whose phenomenal season continued with an 18-point, 17-rebound performance. That total of 17 rebounds was just one shy of his career high of 18, which he would have hit had Marcus Georges-Hunt not beaten him out for the final rebound of the game -- the two jawed playfully over it after the final buzzer.

This team looks more and more different from last season's with every passing game. The sole loss aside, Tech has been able to do exactly what it failed to all of last season with admirable consistency: close games. The Razorbacks had an opportunity to cut the lead to just 6 with a bit over two minutes left after a three pointer by Arkansas' Dusty Hannahs, who led the Razorbacks with 17 points, but Tech refused to fold. The late free-throw shooting was also much-improved over last season, with both Georges-Hunt and Mitchell nailing their free throws. That coupled with Tech's ability to resist merciless full-court pressure by the Hogs was impressive.

A few interesting notes:

-Georgia Tech out-rebounded Arkansas by a final margin of 44-24. The Jackets are now tied for 16th in the nation in terms of rebounding margin with Kentucky, out-rebounding opponents by an average of exactly 13 rebounds per game.

-The Jackets went 8 of 16 from three-point territory, good for 50% on the day. That marks the highest three-point percentage by the Jackets this season and is the highest mark since Tech hit 73% of its threes versus Duke on February 2 of last year.

--If the Jackets win tomorrow, they will have as many victories this season in the Barclays Center as the home-town Brooklyn Nets do (2) during the entire NBA season so far.

-Marcus Georges-Hunt is now just 60 points away from passing Drew Barry for 27th on the all-time Tech scoring list and 62 points away from passing Jarrett Jack -- a current Net, no less -- for 26th.

-The win was Georgia Tech's first ever in Brooklyn; the team went 0-2 at Barclays in 2013 with losses to Ole Miss and St. John's.

-Georgia Tech leads the all-time series with Arkansas 4-1. The two teams last met in 1978 prior to today's game.

What's to come?

The Jackets will wrap up their trip to Brooklyn tomorrow with a game versus the winner of the other NIT Tipoff semifinal game, Villanova vs. Stanford. Villanova, the No. 8 team in the nation, stands at 4-0 while Stanford stands at 2-2 while riding a two-game losing skid. The game will tip off at 3 o'clock at the Barclays Center on Friday as the Jackets look to improve to 5-1 on the season.

Do you feel that the Jackets are back on track or did the ETSU loss permanently hurt your expectations for the season?