How it Happened
The game started at a breakneck pace with both teams racing up and down the court. After the first few possessions, Georgia Tech (18-15) switched to a matchup zone defense that frustrated the Hoosiers into missing 11 consecutive shots. On the other end of the floor, the Yellow Jackets were on fire, knocking down a trio of triples in a row as part of a 15-0 run. Quinton Stephens led the way with eight points early as GT took a 17-4 lead at the 15-minute mark of the opening half. The huge opening run got the raucous Georgia Tech crowd into the game immediately.
James Blackmon Jr. finally broke the over-five-minute Indiana scoring drought with a driving layup, but the Yellow Jackets immediately responded with a well-run pick and roll that led to a thunderous two-handed dunk for big man Ben Lammers off a pass from Justin Moore.
After a 2-for-13 start from the field, the Hoosiers (18-16) finally got going on offense as the first half neared its midway point. Sophomore Thomas Bryant kicked off a 9-0 run when he sliced into the middle of the zone and took a nice pass from Davis for a layup plus a foul. He hit the free throw, as well, giving him five of Indiana's nine points at that juncture. Bryant's fellow sophomore Juwan Morgan punctuated the run with a reverse layup along the baseline to cut the deficit to just four at 19-15. It was the fourth straight made shot for IU, while the Yellow Jackets had missed six in a row, a dramatic reversal of the game's initial stretch.
GT continued to hold a slim advantage as the half entered its later stages, in large part because the Hoosiers were cold from beyond the arc. Indiana missed its first six shots from 3-point range until freshman Curtis Jones finally knocked one down with just over five minutes to play. On the ensuing Georgia Tech possession, Morgan got a hand on a pass and the ball squirted to Jones, who ran the floor in transition and eventually found Morgan at the other end with a nice bounce pass for dunk to slice the GT lead to one at 23-22.
The Hoosiers tied the game at 24 when Blackmon Jr. drove to the hoop for a layup, but the Yellow Jackets immediately opened up some breathing room again, ripping off a 10-2 run over the next several minutes. Guard Tadric Jackson scored five points during the spurt, throwing down a dunk and hitting a 3 from the right wing after being left wide open. Blackmon Jr. was fouled while he shot in the half's final seconds and he split the free throws to send the Hoosiers to the break down 34-27.
Indiana went into the locker room at halftime trailing by just seven despite shooting only 31 percent in the half and 1-for-9 from beyond the 3-point line. IU missed its final six shots of the half. Stephens led the Yellow Jackets with 11 points and five rebounds, while Lammers dominated on defense, pulling down eight rebounds and blocking four shots. One of the blocks was particularly spectacular, as he met De'Ron Davis on a dunk attempt at the rim and swatted the ball back at the freshman.
Minutes into the second half, the Hoosiers finally started to heat up from beyond the arc. Point guard Josh Newkirk scored his first points with a triple from the top of the key and then followed with a nice touch pass to Blackmon Jr. for a second triple soon after, cutting the GT lead to just one. Indiana went ahead for the first time since the score was 4-2 when Morgan grabbed a long rebound and raced into the open court, eventually finding Bryant with a no-look pass for a huge dunk to make it 39-38 in IU's favor.
The teams began to seesaw as the half wore on. Georgia Tech built a three-point advantage when Jackson stole a pass and tossed an outlet ahead to Josh Okogie ahead of everyone for a monster dunk, drawing a roar from the Yellow Jacket faithful. Newkirk responded for Indiana, grabbing a rebound over taller players in traffic and laying the ball in off the glass to trim the GT lead to 47-46 at the under-12 timeout.
Out of the timeout, though, Georgia Tech began to open up its lead again. The Yellow Jackets embarked on a 7-0 run that took just 49 seconds of game time and ballooned their lead back to eight at 56-48. The run ended after Jackson again found Okogie in transition for a loud dunk. Bryant got Indiana back on the board at the other end with a strong drive to the hoop, shoving Okogie out of the way in the lane and dunking with authority.
Georgia Tech held the Hoosiers at an arm's length until the final minutes of the game, pushing its advantage back into double digits with less than four minutes to play. When Jackson hit a midrange jumper with 3:31 to go, the Yellow Jacket lead was 12 and Indiana's back was against the wall. The Hoosiers never got much closer and in the final minutes, Lammers emphatically slammed the door. The center blocked Bryant at the rim twice on the same possession, leading to a shot clock violation for Indiana and effectively ending any comeback hopes.
Player(s) of the Game-Ben Lammers and Josh Okogie
It would be difficult to choose between the two as Okogie led the Yellow Jackets on offense and Lammers did the same on defense.
Okogie shot 9-for-15 from the field, and 6-for-9 from the free throw line. He scored 18 of his points in the second half as Georgia Tech pulled away for the win. The freshman put up 20 points for the seventh time this season and also added seven rebounds and four assists to the box score.
The 2017 ACC Defensive Player of the Year dominated in the paint for most of the night. He pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked five shots to go along with his 11 points. He also altered several other shots as he terrorized Hoosier big man down low and was a major factor in Indiana shooting just 38 percent. He also added three assists and two steals to his total. It was his 14th double-double of the season.
This is Indiana's fifth NIT appearance and first since 2005...Fouls reset after each 10-minute "segment" during the two halves, as part of several experimental NIT rules...Georgia Tech Coach Josh Pastner bought tickets for all the students in attendance at the game...The Hoosiers finish the season 2-8 in true road games...Indiana turned the ball over 16 times, leading to a 22-10 advantage in points off TOs for Georgia Tech...The Hoosiers came in 10th in the country in average rebounding margin at plus-7.6 and outrebounded the Yellow Jackets 35-32; GT ranked 183rd in the country in the same statistic...Georgia Tech came in 15th in the nation in field goal percentage defense at 39.8 percent while Indiana was 24th in field goal percentage at 48.2 percent; the Hoosiers shot 38 percent, including 26 percent on 3s