Starting Five: Georgia Tech (13-10, 3-8 ACC) at Wake Forest (11-13, 4-8 ACC)
Preview of today's Georgia Tech's Tobacco Road match-up with Wake Forest
Feb. 15, 2013
By Jon Cooper
It's a short turnaround for Georgia Tech, which travels to Winston Salem to take on Wake Forest looking to bounce back from a hard-fought loss to Clemson Thursday night. Tip-off at Joel Coliseum is set for 2 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets nearly overcame a cold-shooting first half in which they shot 17 percent and scored 15 points, but came up just short in dropping a 53-50 decision to Clemson Thursday night at McCamish Pavilion. It was Tech's second heart-breaking three-point decision to the Tigers in 16 days. Tech shot 17 percent (5-for-29) in the first half, and trailed by 12 with 6:20 to play, before roaring back with a 16-6 run to pull within two in the final minute. But the Jackets could not convert on a pair of chances to tie the game, however as Chris Bolden missed a lay-up in traffic, then Mfon Udofia had his buzzer-beating three-attempt blocked by Tigers forward Milton Jennings.
The Demon Deacons dropped a heart-breaker of their own their last time out, losing 66-63 at Boston College on Wednesday night. C.J. Harris scored a game-high 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting, while handing out four assists, with a steal and a blocked shot, Travis McKie added 11 points and Devin Thomas grabbed nine rebounds with two blocks in a losing effort. Wake led by one at the half and used a 9-0 run to take a 63-56 lead with 2:13 left, but allowed B.C. to close out the game on a 10-0 run. They also ran into some bad luck, as a clock malfunction with 32 seconds remaining forced them to inbound a second time. Harris was called for a five-second violation, which led to the go-ahead free throws for the Eagles. The loss was the seventh straight on the road for Wake in ACC play.
Today's game will be the final meeting between the schools this season and is the 75th in a series that dates back to 1949. The series is deadlocked at 37 and Tech has won four of the last five meetings and eight of the last 11 but has had its difficulties at Joel, having lost 24 of 34 meetings all-time and three of the last four.
The game can be seen on Fox Sports South, with Bob Rathbun and Cory Alexander calling the action. It also can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM), with Wes Durham and Randy Waters calling the action and via Satellite Radio (Sirius Ch. 85, XM Ch. 85). Tech fans also can follow the game online on ESPN3 or Ramblinwreck.com.
And now, the starting five for today's game.
The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech came out flying and used a devastating three-point attack in crushing Wake Forest, 82-62, on Jan. 16th at McCamish Pavilion. Freshman Robert Carter, Jr., scored a career-high 20 on 9-for-10 shooting, and fellow frosh Marcus Georges-Hunt added 12. Tech scored the first 16 points of the game, seven of them by Carter, and never trailed. They hit 6-of-11 three-point attempts and shot 61.8 percent in the first half, in which they led by as much as 30 (37-7 at 8:51 mark). They took a 52-29 lead into the locker room. The ball-hawking Yellow Jackets forced 11 first-half turnovers and turned them into 22 points. The lead never got below 18 in the second half for the Jackets, who shot 50 percent from three for the game, nailing 10 of 20 tries, with Georges-Hunt, Carter, Mfon Udofia, Chris Bolden and Brandon Reed each canning two.
Short Rest for the Weary: Today's game marks the shortest turnaround of the season for the Jackets, as they'll have only 43 hours between the start of Thursday night's game with Clemson and today's tip. They had a 54-hour turnaround between games Feb. 3rd against Virginia and Feb. 5th against Florida State. The Jackets split those two, beating the Cavaliers, 66-60, before falling, 56-54, to the Seminoles, on a buzzer-beater by FSU's Michael Snaer. The Jackets hope for a better start to the second game this time around, as they came out slowly against FSU, spotting the Seminoles the first 13 points, starting 0-for-5 with four turnovers. An important difference this time is that Tech had to travel between games.
Tech Trivia: Georgia Tech has its longest series win streak over any ACC opponent against Wake Forest. How long is that win streak?
Getting Its ACC Legs: Georgia Tech's young team started the season 0-5 in ACC play but has played better over its last six games. The team, which is 3-3 in the stretch, has increased its scoring by a little over a bucket a game (63.2 from 60.8), while raising its shooting by 66 points (42.7 from 36.1), three-point shooting by 76 points (42.7 from 36.1), and assists per game by 3.4 per game (13.2 from 9.8). On the defensive end, Tech has allowed opponents 14.9 fewer points (58.5 from 73.4), while opponents' shooting is down below 40 percent (39.9 from 43.2), and three point shooting is down as well (35.1 from 37.1). On the boards, the Jackets rebounding margin has jumped 7.7 points (plus-3.7 from minus-4.0).
Taking Care of Business: A sign that a program is improving is its ability to take care of the teams it should beat -- teams at or below .500. In that regard, Georgia Tech is definitely moving in the right direction. The Yellow Jackets are a combined 10-0 against teams that are at or below .500 -- 3-0 vs. .500 clubs, 7-0 vs. sub-.500 teams. Last season Tech was 7-5 in such games, 4-3 vs. .500 teams, 3-2 vs. sub-.500s. Another sign of improvement is the ability to stay in games longer. Last season Tech played 19 games in which they trailed at the half (they were 3-16). This season, while they're still below .500 when down at intermission (4-6), they've only played 10 such games and already have one more win.
The Sixth Man: A win for the Jackets today would give them their first season sweep of an ACC opponent since the 2010-11 season. That year they swept Wake Forest, winning 74-39 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and 80-54 at Joel Coliseum ... Robert Carter's 5-for-10 night against Clemson snapped a two-game mini-slump, in which he made four field goals on 16 attempts (25.0 percent)... Thursday night was only the second game all season in which Tech never had the lead (they did forge one tie). They've had three wire-to-wire victories ... Of the Jackets' eight losses in ACC play, four have come by five-or-fewer points ... Tech Trivia: The Yellow Jackets had a 12-game winning streak against Wake, from 1985-91. The next longest streak is 10 against Maryland from 1984-88 ... Today's game matches the best and worst free throw shooting teams in the ACC, as Wake Forest leads the ACC, shooting 76.4 percent (227-for-297), while Georgia Tech is last, making 66.1 percent (152-for-230). Of course, the game might not come down to free throws, as the Jackets allow 65.5 points per game, five fewer than Wake ... Wake Forest will be wearing special pink trim on their uniforms and specially made pink and grey CP3 Nike shoes in support of cancer awareness and to raise money for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund.
GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 10.4 ppg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER (ACC): Robert Carter, Jr., 9.6 ppg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Robert Carter, Jr., 6.9 rpg
GEORGIA TECH PPG: 64.4/62.1 ppg.
WAKE FOREST PPG: 67.5/64.6 ppg.
WAKE FOREST Player To Watch: Devin Thomas: The 6-9, 240-pound freshman forward is an ACC Rookie of the Year candidate. Thomas is developing into a dominant force on both ends of the floor, averaging 9.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game in ACC play (he's at 8.0 ppg and 7.0 rpg overall). He's grabbed double-digit rebounds in six of the last 13 games and is the ACC's only first-year player ranked in the conference's top 10 in both rebounds (eighth) and blocks (1.5 bpg, sixth). In Conference games his 9.2 rebounds, 3.4 offensive rebounds rank third. Thomas also is starting to pick it up on the offensive end as he's scored in double-digits in six of the last nine games -- he had three such games in Wake's first 15 -- shooting better than 50 percent in all six double-digit-scoring games. He made his mark the first time against the Jackets, grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds, six on the offensive glass, and swatting away five shots.