Georgia Tech beat Ole Miss, 74-66, in Oxford on Tuesday to advance to the NIT Final Four, as junior center Ben Lammers finished with 20 points, eight blocks, four rebounds, four assists and four steals.
“To be able to win the game wire-to-wire was a special win, and to have an opportunity to now go to New York and be in the semifinals of the NIT (is great),” Georgia Tech basketball coach Josh Pastner said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Obviously the goal is to get in the NCAA Tournament, but we’re in year one of a major rebuild job.”
Georgia Tech (20-15), which has also defeated Indiana and Belmont, will face the winner of Cal State Bakersfield versus UT-Arlington at Madison Square Garden on March 28.
“Think about the exposure that we’re getting,” Pastner said. “All these nationally televised games and the continuation of playing – next Tuesday when we play, there’s only going to be eight teams remaining in all of college basketball: four in the NIT, four in the NCAA Tournament. So it was a great win tonight against a very good Ole Miss team on the road. You know how hard it is to win on the road in college basketball. The atmosphere here was just off the charts. We’re really proud of our young men.”
Pastner, 39, spent seven years at Memphis and loved his time there. But when the the opportunity arose to coach at Georgia Tech, he seized it.
“You had a chance to kind of put your own footprint on it,” he said. “When I was at Memphis, you’re following Coach Calipari, who had that run. It was the most wins in a four-year period. That’s what you’re following. So to be able to come here and kind of take something over and rebuild – they wanted to hit the reset button and rebuild it from ground zero. To have the opportunity to be able to do that is just phenomenal.”
Georgia Tech, which has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2010, finished with a losing record in five consecutive years from 2010-11 to 2014-15.
“If we can continue to have success here, to be able to say I’ve done it both ways – following a guy (who won) at the highest levels and then taking something over when you’re (doing) a major rebuild job – (would be great),” Pastner said. “We love it. Atlanta is great. Georgia Tech is great. We have a long way to go in this rebuild, but we’ll continue to move forward.”