Starting Five: Georgia Tech at No. 11 Louisville
Preview of Tuesday night’s matchup between the Yellow Jackets (17-12, 7-9) and No. 11 Cardinals (22-7, 11-5)
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Georgia Tech looks to make it five straight and six out of seven whie putting a damper on Senior Night when it plays its final road game of the season, visiting No. 11 Louisville. Tip-off at KFC Yum! Center is set for 8 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets made it four in a row, the longest such streak in conference play in the Brian Gregory Era, on Saturday afternoon, jumping out to an early double-digit lead then holding off Boston College, 76-71, at Conte Forum. Marcus Georges-Hunt led the Jackets with 23 points, going a perfect 7-for-7 (1-for-1 from three-point range) and making an ACC-career-high-tying three steals, and Adam Smith added 18, hitting four-of-eight three-point attempts. The Jackets hit nine of their first 10 shots in jumping out to a 25-12 lead eight minutes in. They pushed the lead to 15 and led by 13 at the break. B.C. cut the lead to 56-54 midway through the half, but a 7-0 run pushed the game to nine and the Jackets went 4-for-4 from the line down the stretch to seal the deal. The Jackets shot 72.7 percent (16-for-22) in the first half and 55 percent for the game.
The Cardinals saw their three-game winning streak snapped on Saturday, falling, 73-65, at No. 12 Miami. Quentin Snider scored a team-high 14 and center Chinanu Onuaku added ten points, eight rebounds and a career-high six assists. The Cardinals led by only two at the break despite shooting 58 percent, and led by four with five minutes to play before Miami went on a 12-0 run as part of a decisive game-closing 15-3 run. Louisville shot 36.7 percent in the second half, going 2-for-11 from three, missing nine straight shots and 11 of their final 12.
Tonight’s game will be the 31st game between the schools and second this season. Georgia Tech trails 17-13 and is 4-9 in Louisville, having lost four straight in the series. Tech is 0-2 as ACC rivals -- although by a total of five points. Tonight will be the first game between the teams at the KFC Yum! Center.
The game can be seen on WATL in Atlanta, with Justin Kutcher and Mike Gminski calling the action. The game also will be streamed on the ESPN3 app. It can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, WYAY (93.7 FM) and 680 The Fan (680 AM), with Brandon Gaudin and Randy Waters on the call. You also can hear the game via satellite radio, on Sirius (Channel 108) and XM (Channel 194). Fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on RamblinWreck.com and the GT Gameday App.
And now, the Starting Five for Tuesday night’s game.
The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech played an inspired first half but was unable to hold on and fell, 75-71, to No. 17 Louisville on Jan. 23, at McCamish Pavilion. Marcus Georges-Hunt had a game-high 23, going 12-for-12 from the line, and Nick Jacobs had a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double, his first of two on the season, but sophomore center Amas Mahmoud came off the bench to score a career-high 15, 13 in the second half on 5-of-6 shooting, and drew a key foul to foul out Georges-Hunt in the final minute. Georgia Tech outrebounded Louisville 41-33, with Jacobs and Charles Mitchell each grabbing 10 boards, and had a 15-10 edge in second-chance points but committed seven second-half turnovers and had more turnovers (11) than assists (nine).
Two-Man Gang: The tandem of Marcus Georges-Hunt and Adam Smith has carried Georgia Tech during its current four-game winning streak and run of five wins in six games. They have combined for 36.8 points per game over the last six, accounting for 52.2 percent of the Jackets’ 70.5 points per game in that span. Georges-Hunt is averaging 22.3 ppg, more than 5.0 ppg over his season average, has hit for at least 25 points three times and has scored at least 19 point in five of the games. The senior captain has scored in double-figures in 12 of the last 13 games and in eight straight, three shy of his career-high set last year -- a streak ended because of his injury early on against UNC. He’s doing all this scoring while also doing the majority of the ball-handling, where he has 25 assists vs. 14 turnovers. Smith has scored in double digits in 23 games this season, 13 times in ACC play and in nine of the last 11 games. He’s scoring 18.0 during the four-game winning streak, 14.5 over the last six and 15.6 ppg in conference play. From three, he’s had four straight multi-three-pointer games since being shutout from three for the only time this season Feb. 13 at Clemson, the team’s last defeat.
You Hit The Spot!: Hot shooting has been a key to Georgia Tech’s current hot streak. On Saturday, they sizzled, shooting 72.7 percent in the first half at Boston College and 55.0 percent for the game. It was the second straight game shooting over 50 percent, the third time in the last four, and the seventh time this season. The Jackets are 6-1 in such games. Tech had one 50 percent-shooting game all last season. Marcus Georges-Hunt and Adam Smith are leading the way. Georges-Hunt has shot at least 60 percent in four of the six games and is at 62.1 percent (41-for-66) and 78.9 percent from the line (45-for-57) in that span. Meanwhile, “Downtown” has become “Smithtown.” He is hitting 40.8 percent from three, 38.7 in conference play, 40.6 (13-for-32) during the winning streak, and 8-for-15 in the last two games. His next three-pointer will be the 250th of his career. Smith also has excelled from the line, having made 11 straight free throws and 23 of his last 26 (88.5 percent). The bigs haver done their part, as in the paint, Nick Jacobs and James White both had banner games against B.C. Jacobs went 5-for-7 (.714, his second such game of the year), while White hit three of his four shots. He is 7-for-9 over his last five games -- a pair of 3-for-4s and a 1-for-2 (he had two games when he didn’t take a shot).
Call In The SWAT Team: Georgia Tech has been on a shot-blocking binge over the last two games. They rejected seven shots against Boston College after knocking away six against Clemson. The seven blocks against the Eagles were the most in 12 games, since knocking away an ACC season-high 10 against Virginia Tech on Jan. 16. Tech has won shot-blocking in 14 of its 16 conference games this season and in each of the last seven. Against B.C., they had a season-high four players block a shot, with Ben Lammers leading the way with three, James White getting two, his third multi-block ACC game and fifth multi-block game of the season, and Quinton Stephens and Marcus Georges-Hunt getting into the act with one each. Georges-Hunt’s rejection of guard Eli Carter kept Tech’s lead at four and helped blunt the Eagles’ comeback. Lammers continues his superlative shot-blocking, as B.C. was his 11th multi-block game. A multi-block game today would match his career-long streak set earlier this season (three at Notre Dame on Jan. 13, four vs. Virginia Tech on Jan. 16 and two Jan. 23 vs. Louisville). “The Lamminator” has seven swats in his last two games, blocking more shots than the opposition in both (4-3 over Clemson, 3-2 over Boston College).
The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech is playing its first game at the KFC Yum! Center and may welcome the change of venue, as the Yellow Jackets were 3-8 against the Cardinals at Freedom Hall. They broke even in two games at the Louisville Convention Center…Marcus Georges-Hunt begins action with 1,623 career points. He’s only five away from tying the legendary Roger Kaiser (1958-61) for 12th place on the all-time school scoring list. Georges-Hunt passed B.J. Elder against Boston College, the 22nd player he has passed this season...Tech Trivia Answer: Iman Shumpert (18.2 ppg) and Glen Rice (12.4 ppg) combined for 46.5 percent of the Jackets’ ACC scoring during the 2010-11 season...Nick Jacobs begins tonight’s game with 990 career points. Should he reach 1,000 points, he would be the second Yellow Jacket to achieve the milestone this season, joining Charles Mitchell and the fourth 1,000-point scorer on the team (with Georges-Hunt and Smith). Jacobs also would join Mitchell in reaching the 1,000 points-500 rebounds club this season...The Jackets will miss February, as they finished with a 5-3 record. It was the first winning February under Brian Gregory (they also were 4-4 during the 2013-14 season) and the program’s first since a 5-2 during the 2006-07 season.
GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 19.2 ppg
LOUISVILLE SCORING LEADER (ACC): Damion Lee, 14.7 ppg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Charles Mitchell, 9.8 rpg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Charles Mitchell, 8.3 rpg
LOUISVILLE REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Chinanu Onuaku, 9.3 rpg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Josh Heath, 3.0 apg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 3.7 apg
LOUISVILLE ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Quentin Snider, 3.1 apg
GEORGIA TECH PPG/ACC: 74.5/71.5 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 71.9/73.8 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 61.2/64.2
LOUISVILLE Player To Watch, Damion Lee: Playing his final home game as a Cardinal via Drexel, the 6-6, 210-pound grad student from Baltimore, Md., ranks 10th in the ACC in scoring, shooting 44.2 percent. He’s led the Cardinals in scoring 16 times with 24 double-figure games, is dangerous from three, leading the team with 59 three-point field goals, while converting at 35.8 percent (10th in the conference) and is rock solid at the line (83.7, fourth in the ACC). Lee also is solid defensively, leading Louisville with 43 steals, his 1.5 spg rank fourth in the conference. A finalist for John Wooden Award and the Julius Erving Award for the nation’s top small forward, Lee is seven points shy of 2,000 for his career. He will be looking to rebound from back-to-back road off-nights, as he shot 3-for-8, 2-for-5 from three Wednesday at Pittsburgh followed by a 3-for-12, 0-for-5 day Saturday at Miami. He went for a team-high 17 on 6-for-11 shooting, 3-for-6 from three, with a key steal late in the earlier meeting with Georgia Tech this season at McCamish Pavilion.