Georgia Tech follows up big season with opener vs. Miami (Ohio)

NCAA Basketball

Georgia Tech will take the first step toward earning consecutive NCAA Tournament berths for the first time in 17 years when it hosts Miami (Ohio) on Tuesday in Atlanta.

However, the Yellow Jackets will have to do it after their two top scorers from last season turned professional.

Moses Wright (17.4 points per game) and Jose Alvarado (15.2 ppg) led the Yellow Jackets to their first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title since 1993. Their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 11 years was brief, though, as Georgia Tech lost to Loyola Chicago 71-60 in the first round.

“We’re not defending anything. We were the 2021 ACC champions, and now we’re moving into next season,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “We’ve got to do a great job of turning the page and knowing that that was last year and this is a new year.”

The Yellow Jackets will look to build upon last year’s 17-9 mark, which included an 11-6 record in ACC play, by leaning on eight returning players led by guards Michael Devoe (15 ppg), Jordan Usher (11.6 ppg) and Bubba Parham (6.7 ppg).

Georgia Tech welcomes five freshmen, headlined by guards Miles Kelly and Deebo Coleman and forward Jalon Moore, who were all highly ranked recruits. Guard Deivon Smith transferred from Mississippi State.

The Yellow Jackets are counting on Khalid Moore (4.8 ppg), Kyle Sturdivant (3.5 ppg) and Tristan Maxwell (3.0 ppg) to play larger roles this season.

The RedHawks finished 12-11 last year, their first winning season under coach Jack Owens, who is entering his fifth campaign. Miami, which went 9-8 in the Mid-American Conference, will turn to Dae Dae Grant, Dalonte Brown and Mekhi Lairy to lead them to their first NCAA Tournament since 2007.

The trio started every game last season, with Grant averaging 13.7 points per game, Brown adding 13.5 points and a team-high 7.4 rebounds and Lairy averaging 12.8 points per game. They also combined for 150 assists, led by Lairy’s 75.

The RedHawks also return forward James Beck (7.1 ppg), guard Myja White (5.9 ppg), forward Elijah McNamara (3.7 ppg) and forward Precious Ayah (3.2 ppg), who all started at some point last season.

Miami also will look to a pair of freshmen — guard Marr Avance and forward Curtis Harrison IV — to give the team some much-needed depth. Forward Kamari Williams transferred from Boston College, for whom he averaged 2.6 points and 1.2 rebounds per game last season.

“I’m not putting a ceiling on this team,” Owens said. “(The team is) more player-led than coach-led. That’s the beauty of what we have now, and hopefully that translates to more wins.”

–Field Level Media

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