Jackets Complete Important Road Swing at Georgia
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. in regionally-televised game (CSS)
Jan. 4, 2010
ATLANTA - Off to its best start in five years, Georgia Tech's 20th-ranked (AP) basketball team finishes an important two-game road trip Tuesday night with a 7 p.m. regionally-televised game (CSS) against state-rival Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (11-2, 0-1 ACC) vs.
Tech is 11-2 overall, having won three straight games since an overtime loss to Florida State in its ACC opener on Dec. 20. The Yellow Jackets have won both their road games this season, including a 76-67 decision Saturday night at Charlotte, and are 4-1 away from home, counting three neutral site games in Puerto Rico.
Georgia fell to 7-5 after an 89-61 loss at Missouri Saturday afternoon that snapped a three-game winning streak. The Bulldogs' best win was a 70-67 decision over Illinois Dec. 19 at Gwinnett Arena. Tech and Georgia have no common opponents to date, although the Dogs lost a 74-62 game at Virginia Tech, whom the Yellow Jackets will face in March.
Tech's last 11-2 start came in the 2004-05 season, when the Yellow Jackets also began 11-2 before dropping three straight games. The Jackets' 2004 Final Four unit began the season with 12 straight wins before losing at Georgia and North Carolina in succession.
Head coach Paul Hewitt guides Tech in search of its first win in Athens since 1976. The Yellow Jackets have lost 12 straight games at Stegeman Coliseum and are 3-24 all-time in the building.
Tech resumes Atlantic Coast Conference play Saturday when No. 5 Duke visits Alexander Memorial Coliseum for a nationally-televised game at 2 p.m. The Yellow Jackets have one non-conference game remaining after Tuesday - Kentucky State on Jan. 30.
The Jackets have been inconsistent on offense of late, averaging just over 71 points in their last five games and shooting just 41.3 percent from the floor, but have limited their last eight foes to an average of 57.8 points per game. Tech's last eight foes have shot just 34.2 percent from the floor and turned the ball over more than 17 times a game.
Iman Shumpert, the sophomore guard who has missed six games while recovering from surgery to repair a damaged meniscus in his right knee, had a successful return to action at Charlotte, scoring nine points with two assists in 27 minutes of action.
The Yellow Jackets have been in and out of the Associated Press poll of writers after beginning the season ranked 22nd, but have been in the ESPN/USA Today coaches top 25 each week of the season, currently holding the 20th position at which they began the year.
The win over Charlotte boosted Tech's Sagaring rating from No. 41 to No. 26. The Jackets were No. 63 in Sunday's CollegeRPI.com rankings, up from No. 92. The Yellow Jackets moved back into the Associated Press poll this week at No. 20, and rose to No. 17 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
Series with Georgia
> Georgia Tech won its 100th game in the series with Georgia, which began in 1906, with a 78-69 win over the Bulldogs on Dec. 22, 2006 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Tech leads 101-84 and has played the Bulldogs more than any other opponent in its basketball history.
> The series has been played alternately on the respective schools' campuses since the 1995-96 season, and the Bulldogs have won eight of those 14 games. Tech has won the last four meetings at home, and six of the last seven games played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the series moved back to campuses. The home team has won all but one of the 14 meetings, the exception being Georgia's 75-70 win at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 6, 2000.
> Tech last won in Athens on Nov. 26, 1976 (64-43), and has lost 12 straight games in Stegeman Coliseum, including a 79-72 loss in January of 2008.
> Before the December, 1995 meeting in Athens, the teams played 14 straight years at the Omni in downtown Atlanta, which was located on the site of the current Philips Arena. Tech went 8-6 against the Bulldogs in the facility, including eight of the last 10 before the neutral series ended. The teams have played on neutral sites other than the SEC or Southern Intercollegiate Championships only one other time, that coming at the 1960 Gator Bowl Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla.
> Tech is 4-5 against Georgia under head coach Paul Hewitt. Bulldogs head coach Mark Fox is facing the Yellow Jackets for the first time as a head coach, but was an assistant at Nevada in 2004 when the Jackets defeated the Wolf Pack in the St. Louis Regional semifinals.
> Twelve of the last 26 meetings have been decided by five points or fewer, or gone to overtime, 20 by 10 points or less. Three games have gone to overtime, one to three overtimes and one to two.
Defense Strong of Late
Georgia Tech has had difficulty finding the range since its 31-point win at Chattanooga, but the Yellow Jackets have played good defense of late, holding their last seven foes to an average of 57.8 points per game. Even Florida State managed just 57 points in regulation against Tech (66 total).
Tech's last eight opponents have shot just 34.2 percent from the floor, almost two percent below the Jackets' season yield. Those teams also have made just 28.7 percent from three-point range and 60.7 percent from the foul line.
Another positive for Tech has been an assist-turnover ratio on the plus side (124-to-123 for the last eight games, 74-to-87 in the first five games), and the Jackets have forced an average of 17.1 turnovers and taken 8.4 steals per game.
Peach State Flavor to Tech Roster
Eight players on Georgia Tech's 16-man roster hail from the state of Georgia, more than any Tech team since 1999-00 and more than all but three teams since 1950.
Former head coach Bobby Cremins' last three Yellow Jacket teams had - in order - 12, 10 and 8 players from the Peach State.
Five of the six players in Tech's current freshman class are from Georgia (Derrick Favors, Kammeon Holsey, Daniel Miller, Glen Rice, Jr., and Mfon Udofia), the most ever in any Yellow Jacket recruiting class.
Comments from Head Coach Paul Hewitt
On the win in Charlotte
"I think they learned that if they stick to the things we talk to them about, they can withstand runs. They took the lead, then we came down and got a big shot from D'Andre Bell. It rolled in, but nonetheless it was a very good shot. We executed our secondary break very well. They realized they just need to keep working on the things we do in practice. The practices leading up to the game were very intense and competitive, and that carried over into the game."
On having just two assists in the first half (eight in the game)
"Because of how the game was played and how they played defense, I didn't think it was a game where we would have a lot of assists. We were going to have to attack off the dribble, and I think D'Andre set the tone early in the game by getting into the lane and getting a basket. Zach Peacock got into the lane and got a basket. We didn't want to just stand out there and pass the ball around the perimeter."
On not winning in Athens since the series returned to the campuses
"It's a chance for us to do something no one has done (since 1976). That's something we'll make clear to them, that you can't go into the game with any fear. It's a great opportunity. We went to down to Dayton, that was a great opportunity for us. Going to Charlotte or Chattanooga, they were great opportunities for our young guys to learn things. Here's another tremendous opportunity for them."
On Georgia's Trey Thompkins
"He's a great player. He came to basketball camp here, and I've known him and his family for a long time. He's a tremendous offensive player and comes from a really good family. He committed to Georgia really early if I'm not mistaken. We already had Gani Lawal, Alade Amini, Zach Peacock in the frontcourt. We wanted him, but he made a good decision for himself."
On the number of players from Georgia on Tech's roster
"It just kind of broke that way. Daniel (Miller) we got late. It just kind of happened that way. There is great talent in the state of Georgia. I watched the Georgia-Illinois game, and Mark Gottfried made a remark that there were 40 players from the state of Georgia that played in last year's NCAA Tournament. Bobby (Cremins) used to get his share of Georgia guys, James Forrest was from here, Brian Oliver went to school here. There are great players in this state.
"I remember Jim Harrick telling me when I first got here, that there was no need for him and I to get into any battles, that there were plenty of players here to go around. There are plenty for both of us, and he was right. They've got a roster full of Georgia kids, and we've got a roster full of Georgia kids. There's no need for us to bump heads."
On how your rotation is forming
"There is still some of that going on. The practices over the last two weeks have become so competitive. A guy like Lance Storrs, who did not get in the game at Charlotte, has practiced very well, and I've got to give him a look at some point. Sunday in practice, he was tremendous, energetic, bouncing around, making plays."