Georgia Tech’s NIT quarterfinal against San Diego State looked nothing like its first two tournament games against Houston and South Carolina. Different environment, different result for the Jackets, who ended their season with a 72-56 loss to the Aztecs.
Tech trailed all of 1:46 against Houston and South Carolina, but it trailed for almost the entire contest against SDSU. And the Aztecs had a sellout crowd of 12,414 cheering them on, unlike South Carolina, who had just 2,856.
SDSU (28-9) entered the game ranked third nationally in scoring defense (60.6 points per game), first in opponent field goal percentage (37 percent) and third in defensive efficiency.
Those numbers seemed empty in the first half, when the Jackets shot 57 percent and scored 22 paint points. SDSU proved its defensive prowess in the second, though, when it held Tech to 25 points on 33 percent shooting (9-for-27).
Adam Smith, who’d averaged 20.6 points on 52 percent shooting the previous five games, scored six points on 3-of-11 shooting, 0-of-4 from long range.
In his program record-tying 130th game, Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 18 points for Tech (21-15). He scored 11 of those in the first and shot 2-for-8 in the second.
Entering the game, Tech was the country’s No. 24 offensive rebounding team, snagging 40 percent of its misses. The Aztecs held Tech to seven offensive boards, or just 25 percent of its missed shots. It scored five second-chance points.
Charles Mitchell led the Jackets in rebounding all year. He grabbed 12 to go along with 12 points against SDSU, but only two of those boards came in the final 10 minutes.
Winston Shepard, who’d picked up a triple-double and a double-double in SDSU’s first two NIT games, scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Trey Kell led the Aztecs with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
The Jackets struggled against top defenses this season, going 2-8 against teams with top-50 efficient defenses. They went 1-6 against ACC teams in that category (Louisville, Virginia, North Carolina, Syracuse and Miami).