San Juan, Puerto Rico – After opening the season with an impressive 100-59 victory over Florida A&M at home, Georgia Tech (No. 21 AP, No. 19 ESPN/USA Today) hits the road for the first time this season to play in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.
The Yellow Jackets open against No. 18 Dayton at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, then meet either George Mason or No. 5 Villanova Friday at a time to be determined. After an off-day for all eight teams Saturday, games to decide seventh, fifth, third and first places will be played Sunday. The tournament is being played at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico in Hato Rey, P.R. Nine of the 12 games in the tournament will be televised on the ESPN family of networks.
Tech’s side of the bracket includes three top-25 teams. Dayton and Villanova each made the NCAA Tournament field last year, with the Wildcats advancing to the Final Four in Detroit.
The Yellow Jackets began the season ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll, and 20th in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Tech has four players back who started more than half its games last year (Gani Lawal, Iman Shumpert, Zachery Peacock, Moe Miller), and a fifth who started 22 games the year before (D’Andre Bell).
Third Time off the Mainland in Four Years
The Puerto Rico Tipoff will be Georgia Tech’s 10th regular-season tournament off the mainland of the United States, and the third in the last four years. Tech played in the Maui Invitational in 2006 (a second-place finish) and the Paradise Jam in 2007 (third place).
The Yellow Jackets have won 11 regular-season tournaments in its history, including the 2003 Pre-Season NIT, the 1997 Puerto Rico Shootout, the 1993 Holiday Festival and 1984 Rainbow Classic.
The Yellow Jackets have been to Puerto Rico once before, in 1997. With a team of Matt Harpring, Michael Maddox, Alvin Jones, Dion Glover and Travis Spivey, Tech won the tournament by defeating Alabama (62-60), St. John’s (77-65) and Louisville (73-69).
Series With Puerto Rico Tip-Off Field
> Dayton - The Yellow Jackets and the Flyers have met once before, on Dec. 17, 1977 in Dayton, a 65-63 victory for the Flyers against a Dwane Morrison-coached Tech team.
> George Mason - The Jackets and Patriots have never met.
> Villanova - Tech has won all thtee prior meetings, most recently an 80-59 win in the 1991 ACC-Big East Challenge in Atlanta. The teams also met in an NCAA Tournament game in Baton Rouge, La., in 1986.
> Boston University - Tech has won both prior meetings, the most recent occurring by one point at home in 1974. The first meeting too place in a tournament in Miami in 1965.
> Indiana - The teams have met twice, once in Bloomington in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge (2007) and once in Los Angeles. Hoosiers won both.
> Kansas State - The Jackets and Wildcats have never met.
> Mississippi - Because Tech was once a member of the Southeastern Conference, these two teams have the longest history of any of the seven opponents in Puerto Rico. The Yellow Jackets hold an 11-8 advantage in the series. The teams first played in 1926, and last played in 1964, the final SEC season for Tech in basketball.
Jackets Break Out of Gate Impressively
Georgia Tech led by as many at 47 points behind double-figure scoring efforts from four players, and the Yellow Jackets captured their season opener in impressive fashion, 100-59, over Florida A&M Saturday night.
Sophomore Iman Shumpert scored a game-high 18 points in just 19 minutes, and Gani Lawal recorded his 16th-career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Freshmen Make Solid Debuts
Four Tech freshmen, two of whom started, made impressive debuts in Georgia Tech’s vistory over Florida A&M. The four who played combined for 38 points and 19 rebounds, while hitting 14 of 32 shots from the floor.
Derrick Favors, a 6-10 forward from Atlanta, scored 10 points with eight rebounds in 24 minutes, while Mfon Udofia, a 6-2 guard from Stone Mountain, Ga., also started and played 22 minutes, scoring nine points with four assists. Brian Oliver, a 6-6 forward from Glassboro, N.J. came off the bench to hit four threes in the second half, and Glen Rice, Jr., a 6-5 guard from Marietta, Ga., notched seven points with seven rebounds in 13 minutes.
Neither of Tech’s other two freshmen will play this season. Kammeon Holsey, a 6-8 forward from Sparta, Ga., also will not play this season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Aug, 1. He underwent successful surgery on Aug. 11 and is undergoing rehabilitation on the knee. Daniel Miller, a 6-11 center from Loganville, Ga., will red-shirt this season. Miller and his family made that decision and informed head coach Paul Hewitt the week of the opener.
Quoting Coach Hewitt
On if Saturday’s win over Florida A&M was what the team was looking for going into the Puerto Rico Tip-Off: “We had the chance to play a lot of guys and build some confidence. But, after watching the tape, our execution wasn’t very good at all, especially offensively. Our pressure was good. Our athleticism allowed us to make some baskets. But, we also have a lot of video to show the guys to show that against a team like Dayton that can match-up with us, we have to be able to execute. ”
On Thursday’s game with Dayton: “This is a great opportunity for us. Dayton has a lot of experienced guys back from last year. It’s a great opportunity for our young guys especially. Dayton is good enough to win [The Puerto Rico Tip-Off]. They have the right to think like that.”
On if there are any advantages to playing in a preseason tournament on the road: “I don’t think there’s any great benefit to it. More than anything, it gives us a chance to play against some quality opponents in a short period of time. Regardless of what happens, it’s not that important in terms of the grand scheme of things. We still have a long season to go. But, when you have a chance to play a team like Dayton and then some very good competition after that, we should know as a team and a coaching staff what we need to work on when we get back.”
On Brian Oliver and Glen Rice Jr.’s performances against Florida A&M.: “With Brian, that’s the guy we saw when we were recruiting in terms of shooting the basketball. He’s capable of ripping off four or five in-a-row. Glenn is just a play-maker, offensively and defensively. They both have a good feel for the game as well.”
On Dayton’s Chris Wright: “He’s a good player. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being player of the year in the Atlantic 10. Watching him against Creighton was impressive.”