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Georgia Tech Game Preview: NIT Round 3 - (5) Ole Miss Rebels

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It’s a battle of old SEC foes for a ticket to Madison Square Garden

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Georgia Tech Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

For the second consecutive season, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets find themselves one win away from ending their season in Madison Square Garden. Standing in their way is an old conference foe: the Ole Miss Rebels. Under long-time head coach Andy Kennedy, the Rebels are returning home to host the Jackets after picking up a pair of road wins in the first two rounds of the NIT. Ole Miss opened the tournament at Monmouth, where they picked up a 91-83 win. They then headed to upstate New York, where they took down top seeded Syracuse 85-80 in a tightly contested game.

Conversley, Georgia Tech will be taking to the road for the first time this postseason. The Yellow Jackets were gifted a home game against higher-seeded Indiana and took full advantage. They followed that up with one more game in front of their home fans - a route of Belmont on Sunday. Tech has not been a good road team this season, only winning two games away from McCamish Pavilion, but they’ve been playing some of their best ball of late and are looking to end the season on a high note.

Resume Comparison

Team Conference Record Conference Record RPI Rank KenPom Rank Record Against KenPom Top 50 Best Win Worst Loss
Team Conference Record Conference Record RPI Rank KenPom Rank Record Against KenPom Top 50 Best Win Worst Loss
Georgia Tech ACC 19-15 8-10 106 80 6-8 North Carolina (4) NC State (111)
Ole Miss SEC 22-13 10-8 75 70 2-9 South Carolina (28) Texas A&M (65)

Stat Comparison

Team PPG Opponent PPG FG% Opponent FG% 3FG% Opponent 3FG% FT% RPG Opponent RPG APG SPG BPG
Team PPG Opponent PPG FG% Opponent FG% 3FG% Opponent 3FG% FT% RPG Opponent RPG APG SPG BPG
Georgia Tech 67.4 66.4 43.8 39.5 33.3 33.4 67.8 36.1 36.0 15.3 6.6 5.9
Ole Miss 78.3 76.4 42.4 42.3 35.2 36.5 75.2 39.6 36.5 12.9 6.7 4.3

Projected Starters

(6) Georgia Tech (19-15, 8-10)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 30 Corey Heyward Sr. 16.4 1.9 17 TOs in 559 min
G 11 Josh Heath Sr. 30.8 5.6 7 assists vs Belmont
G 5 Josh Okogie Fr. 30.3 15.8 46/39/74% shooting (FG/3FG/FT)
F 12 Quinton Stephens Sr. 33.2 10.5 Career-High 23 points vs Belmont
C 44 Ben Lammers Jr. 35.3 14.2 15 double-doubles this season
6th Man 1 Tadric Jackson Jr. 23.6 12.1 12 pts on 13 shots vs Belmont

(5) Ole Miss (22-13, 10-8)

Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
Position Number Name Year MPG PPG Notable
G 1 Deandre Burnett Jr. 30.1 16.8 88.1% FT%
G 4 Breein Tyree Fr. 19.1 7.4 0 pts vs Syracuse, ended streak of 7 double-digit games
G 3 Terence Davis So. 25.1 14.9 30 pts on 14 shots vs Syracuse
F 50 Justas Furmanavicius Jr. 25.1 6.4 48.0% FG%
F 11 Sebastian Saiz Sr. 33.3 15.0 11.3 rpg
6th Man 2 Cullen Neal Jr. 23.6 9.3 41.2% 3FG

Player to Watch

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Arkansas vs Mississippi Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

F - Sebastian Saiz

Georgia Tech’s run through the NIT has brought them a barrage of talented big men. In the first round it was potential first round NBA draft pick Thomas Brynat. Against Belmont it was the two-time reigning NCAA field goal percentage champion, Evan Bradds. The Jackets will have yet another big to contend with tonight in Ole Miss’s Sebastian Saiz. The senior forward was named first-team All-SEC and was the only player in the conference to average a double-double. Saiz is a versatile scorer and an elite rebounder, ranking 5th nationally with 11.3 boards per game. He is particularly efficient on the defensive glass which, combined with Tech’s generally poor offensive rebounding, means the Jackets are unlikely to get many second chance opportunities. If there’s any good news for Tech it’s that Saiz struggled a bit against Syracuse’s zone. The Spaniard still recorded a double-double, but he needed 13 shots to get 10 points. Tech employs a lot of zone looks and, while the Jackets lack the length of Syracuse, it could still limit Saiz’s involvement.

What to Watch

Looking broadly at the Rebels’ statistical profile, they’re not really elite at anything, but they do just about everything well. They’re an all around solid team with no major notable weaknesses. On offense, the Rebels are at or slightly below average shooting the ball but they make up for it by being one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country. Saiz and fellow forwards Justas Furmanavicius and Marcanvius Hymon all rank in the top 20% of Division I players in offensive rebounding percentage. Tech’s only real weakness on defense has been keeping opponents off the offensive glass so this could pose a problem for the Jackets. Additionally, the Rebels are very good at drawing fouls and converting free throws into points. Their primary ball handler, Miami transfer Deandre Burnett, gets to the line about 7 times a game and hits 88% of his free throws. Tech’s defense doesn’t foul a lot due to their heavy use of zone concepts but it will be critical to keep Ole Miss off the foul line. The Jackets have a thin margin of error, especially on the road, and they can’t afford to give the Rebels second chances or free points.

Defensively, Ole Miss is at their best defending the rim led by the trio of big men mentioned in the preceding paragraph. While none of them are Ben Lammers, Saiz, Furmanavicius, and Hymon all average slightly over one block per game and do a good job defending the paint. The Rebels almost always have two of their three bigs on the floor so they may be able to adequately guard Lammers while also keeping a rim protector home to guard against the back door cuts the Jackets love to use. Tech will need to hope that Quinton Stephens can continue his hot streak shooting the ball to take advantage of the Rebels’ biggest defensive weakness. Opponents shoot 36.3% from deep against Ole Miss, which ranks in the bottom third nationally. Stephens is only a 32% shooter from three on the season, but he’s been on fire in the NIT, going 7-14 from distance against Indiana and Belmont, including some from NBA depth. Stephens, or anyone else, knocking down some timely threes could be just what the Jackets need to book a trip to New York.

Where to Watch

Georgia Tech - Ole Miss will tip off at 9:00 PM ET. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.