Georgia Tech suffered a nightmare double-whammy scenario on Friday night: the Yellow Jackets lost to one-win Grambling, one of the worst teams in Division I—and they lost after the Tigers took a 64–63 lead on an accidental own basket tip-in by Tech as the teams battled for a rebound with 6.5 seconds remaining.
Grambling entered the night ranked 338th out of 351 teams on Kenpom; the site's prediction formula had given the school just a 2% chance of winning. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, was ranked 64th, playing at home and coming off a buzzer-beating win over Northwestern on Tuesday. Tech's only other loss so far this season had been a season-opening three-point loss to UCLA, for which starter Tadric Jackson was suspended.
Here's video of the play that gave the Tigers the monumental win, which occurred after Ivy Smith Jr. missed a go-ahead lay-up attempt.
The Jackets couldn't convert on the other end in the final seconds as Grambling, playing in its seventh straight road game to open the season, sealed the huge upset.
Entering Friday, Georgia Tech had been 18–1 against the SWAC conference all-time, its only loss coming in the 1993 NCAA tournament. Grambling's 16-win season last year was its highest number since 1997–98, but it had lost its last 63 games against teams from power-six conferences, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
The loss will be a tough one for the Yellow Jackets to swallow. They shot just 38.9% for the game, were out-rebounded by four, made only 11 of 22 free-throw attempts and got just four points from their leading scorer, Ben Lammers. And despite all that, Tech led by three with 43 seconds left after a pair of free throws by Jose Alvarado and had the chance to salvage a win.
All is not totally lost. This was a dismal performance—and an ACC team should never lose a game like this at home—but that last-second win over Northwestern now becomes all the more crucial. The Jackets are still playing without talented guard Josh Okogie, who was finishing out a six-game suspension but is still otherwise recovering from a dislocated finger and may not be back until the start of conference play. Georgia Tech needs to avoid allowing this loss to spark a downward spiral—and quickly, as Tennessee visits on Sunday. Otherwise, this could be a very long season in Atlanta.