Dec. 14, 2001
ATLANTA – After a week off for fall semester exams, Georgia Tech swings back into action Sunday at 6 p.m., looking to end a two-game losing streak against 13th-ranked Syracuse at Philips Arena. The game is the nightcap of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Holiday Classic for Kids, following Georgia State vs. Mississippi State.
The game will be nationally televised on Fox Sports Net, with Atlanta radio coverage on WTSH-FM (107.1), WLKQ-FM (102.3), WSNY-FM (100.1) and WMAX-FM (98.1).
Tech (3-5) has dropped its last two games, both on the road, to North Carolina (83-77) and Georgia (95-82). Syracuse is 9-1 following an 82-68 loss to NC State last Saturday at the Carrier Dome.
The backcourt tandem of 5-11 Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.) and 6-4 Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.) leads the Yellow Jackets. Akins, Tech’s point guard who has scored 57 points with 25 assists in the last three games, averages 16.5 points and 5.1 assists and is shooting 41.8 percent from three-point range. Lewis is Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures with 13.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He has hit 58.1 percent of his three-point attempts and is shooting 44.9 percent overall.
The rest of Tech’s starting five for Syracuse is expected to be 6-5 Clarence Moore (So., Norco, La.) and 6-7 Ed Nelson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at the forwards and 6-8 Robert Brooks (So., Saginaw, Mich.) at center.
Moore averages 6.4 points and 5.3 rebounds and is shooting 46.5 percent from the floor. Nelson leads Tech in field goal percentage (47.2) and rebounding (7.4 per game) while scoring 5.5 points. Brooks, coming off his first career double-double at Georgia (13 points, 10 rebounds) averages 3.4 points and 5.8 rebounds.
B.J. Elder (Fr., Madison, Ga.), a 6-3 guard, is Tech’s top scorer off the bench at 9.1 points per game, third on the team. Other key reserves include 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), averaging 7.1 points and 3.3 rebounds, and 6-5 swingman Halston Lane (So., Oak Ridge, Tenn.), averaging 8.0 points, 3.0 rebounds.
Tech has shot better from the floor in its last three games, hitting 44.5 percent overall and 43.1 from three-point range and continues to outrebound its opponents by more than nine per game.
Tech Series vs. Syracuse
Georgia Tech and Syracuse are meeting for just the second time, and oddly enough, they are playing on the same site as the first meeting but in a different building.
Tech defeated Syracuse in the teams’ first encounter, 70-53, on Mar. 17, 1985, in the second round of the NCAA East Regional at the Omni, which stood on the site of Philips Arena until it was demolished in 1997. The Yellow Jackets went on from that game to defeat Illinois in the Sweet 16 at Providence, R.I., before falling to Georgetown in the regional finals.
That Tech team was led by Mark Price, John Salley, Bruce Dalrymple, Yvon Joseph and Scott Petway, while Syracuse featured Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, Rafael Addison and Rony Seikaly.
Tech in Philips Arena
This is Georgia Tech’s fourth game in Philips Arena, which stands on the site of the former Omni. The Yellow Jackets are 1-2 in the building, having defeated Kentucky, 86-84, last December following losses to Stanford (64-61 in overtime) and Michigan (80-77) in December, 1999. The average margin of decision in the three games has been 2.7 points.
Tech had a 32-19 record in the Omni between 1981 and 1996.
Tech in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Holiday Classic
It has been played in three arenas (the Omni and the Georgia Dome before Philips Arena), survived several sponsors and a format change from a two-day, four-team tournament to a one-day double-header, but this Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Classic for Kids is the 16th holiday classic in which Georgia Tech has participated. The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl became the title sponsor of the event this year.
Beginning with its first appearance in what was then known as the Cotton States Classic at the Omni in 1983, Tech has posted a 15-4 record in this event, including an 8-0 mark in the two-day format. Since it became a one-day double-header in 1990, the Yellow Jackets are 7-4, including last year’s 86-84 victory over Kentucky at Philips Arena.
Since the inception of the one-day double-header, Tech is 2-2 vs. Kentucky, 3-1 vs. Louisville, 1-0 vs. Loyola Marymount, 0-1 vs. Stanford, and 1-0 vs. Vanderbilt.
Last Time Out
Five Georgia Tech players scored in double figures, but Georgia shot 50 percent from the floor and 10 of 24 from three-point range as the Bulldogs handed the Yellow Jackets a 95-82 defeat at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens.
Tech trailed for the entire game, but rallied to come within 85-81 at the 1:29 mark before the Bulldogs salted away the game at the free throw line. Steve Thomas led Georgia with 24 points, Ezra Williams with 22, and Jarvis Hayes with 21.
Marvin Lewis led the way for Tech with 17 points (5-of-7 on threes) and Tony Akins scored 15. Robert Brooks posted his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Ed Nelson and Halston Lane each added 10 points. Tech shot 48.3 percent from three-point range (14-of-29).
After using the same starting five in each of Tech’s first five games, head coach Paul Hewitt shuffled the lineup for Wisconsin, starting Robert Brooks at center in place of freshman Luke Schenscher and Anthony McHenry at forward in place of Clarence Moore.
They also started at North Carolina, but Moore (6.9 points, 5.9 rebounds) returned to the lineup against Georgia, while Brooks, Tech’s third-leading rebounder at 5.1 per game, remains at center.
Schenscher Out With Broken Foot
Luke Schenscher, who averaged 3.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in six games, is out of the lineup after X-rays revealed a broken third metatarsal bone in his left foot Nov. 29. His foot will be in a cast for two more weeks, and he is not expected to return before late December or early January.
The loss leaves Tech with just nine healthy scholarship players. Senior Michael Isenhour will miss the entire season while being treated for leukemia.
Bench Providing a Spark for Tech
Playing with a 10-man rotation (nine now with the absence of Schenscher) since the arrival of head coach Paul Hewitt, Georgia Tech has come to rely more heavily on its bench. They have provided the Jackets some real spark offensively through the early going this season.
Tech’s bench scored 46 of 77 points Dec. 1 at North Carolina, led by 17 points each from B.J. Elder and Halston Lane and 12 from Isma’il Muhammad. Previously, the high for the bench in 37 games under Hewitt was 40 against Florida A&M on Nov. 16.
This season, Tech has gotten 27.3 points per game from its bench, roughly 37 percent of its total scoring output of 72.8 points per game. Tech has had a double-figure scorer off the bench in four of seven games.
Last year, Tech received 20.4 points per game from its reserves, 25 percent of its total scoring output.
Akins At The Point
Tony Akins has been Georgia Tech’s most consistent offensive player through the early going, scoring in double digits each time out and leading the Jackets in scoring at 16.5 points per game (8th in the ACC) while averaging 5.1 assists (5th in the ACC).
In Tech’s last three games, the 5-11 senior has averaged 19 points and 8.3 assists while shooting 48.8 percent from the floor and an even 50 percent from three-point range.
Akins has scored in double figures and hit a three-pointer in 20 straight games since going scoreless against Clemson on Jan. 24 last season. He has hit 41.8 percent of his three-point attempts this season.
Akins went over the 1,000-point plateau for his career at Wake Forest last Feb. 14, the 32nd Tech player to do so all-time. He now has 1,250 career points, jumping to 23rd place in Tech history. He needs 4 points to move past Drew Barry (1,253 points, 1993-96) for 22nd place.
Akins also ranks eighth in career assists (425) and 9th in steals (127).
Lewis Hot From Long-Range
Marvin Lewis found his range from behind the three-point arc against Georgia, hitting 5 of 7 attempts following a cold four-game stretch where he was just 2 of 7.
The 6-4 sophomore began the season making 11 of 16 in the first three games, and is hitting 58.1 percent of his attempts from that range (18-of-31) for the season. Lewis continues to be outstanding from the line as well (83.3 percent) and gives Tech excellent rebounding from his position (5.3).
As a 6-3 small forward for the Jackets last year, Lewis averaged 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds, ranking third among ACC freshmen in both categories, and made the ACC all-Freshman team and the Academic all-ACC team.
Tech Holding Its Own On The Boards
Rebounding and size were pre-season concerns for head coach Paul Hewitt, but the Yellow Jackets have gotten off to a good start on the boards despite having no player taller than 6-8. Tech has outrebounded its opponents by an average of almost eight per game (42.5 to 34.8), and has beaten six of eight opponents on the boards.
Even with 6-11 Alvin Jones leading the ACC in rebounding a year ago, Tech struggled as a team, being outrebounded 40-to-37.5 for the season.
More impressive is the fact that Tech has averaged 17.3 offensive rebounds, which leads the ACC. Two Tech players – Clarence Moore (3.00) and Ed Nelson (2.62) rank among the ACC’s top seven in offensive rebounds.
Akins For Three
Tony Akins is making his mark as one of the top three-point shooters in Georgia Tech history. Only Dennis Scott (351-for-831), Travis Best (258-for-656) rank ahead of Akins on Tech’s career lists for three-point field goals made and attempted.
Akins, who is 231-for-636 in his career (36.3 percent), has hit a three-pointer in 20 straight games. His junior and seniors taken together, Akins has posted an accuracy rate of 41.9 percent.
Scott, who set his records in three seasons, shot 42.2 percent from three-point range in his career.
Isenhour to Graduate
Senior Michael Isenhour, who was expected to play a significant role for the young Yellow Jackets’ squad this season, was diagnosed with acute lymphomic leukemia in late October.
The 6-8 center from Lawrenceville, Ga., was admitted to Emory University Hospital on Oct. 24 and underwent aggressive chemotherapy treatments for a week. He was released from the hospital Nov. 21, and will continue weekly chemotherapy treatments on an outpatient basis over the next five to six months. Isenhour attended the Tech-Georgia game on Dec. 9 in Athens and sat on the bench.
A dean’s list student in mechanical engineering, Isenhour is graduating this semester and will participate in commencement on Dec. 15.
Isenhour has played in 39 games in two seasons since transferring from the Air Force Academy, including 27 games and an average of 10 minutes off the bench last season.
Dialing Long Distance
Georgia Tech owns the third-longest active streak in the nation for consecutive games with at least one three-point field goal. Tech’s streak has reached 449 games. The last team to hold the Jackets without a three-point field goal was Virginia in the 1987 ACC Tournament.
UNLV, Vanderbilt and Princeton are the only schools to have at least one three-pointer in every game since the rule was put in for the 1986-87 season.
Consecutive Games Scoring a Three-Point Field Goal 482-Vanderbilt, Nov. 28, 1986 to present 481-UNLV, Nov. 26, 1986 to present 449-Georgia Tech, March 13, 1987 to present 447-Kentucky, Nov. 28, 1988 to present 421-Princeton, Nov. 19, 1986 to present
Georgia Tech (3-5) vs. #13/12 Syracuse (9-1)December 16, 2001 o 6 p.m. o Philips Arena o Atlanta, Ga.
TV: Fox Sports Net, Thom Brennaman, pbp, Kenny Smith, color Radio: WTSH-FM (107.1), WMAX-FM (98.1), WSNY-FM (100.1), WLKQ-FM (102.3), Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 3-5, 0-1 ACC H: 2-1, A: 0-2, N: 1-2 Series vs. Syracuse: Tech leads, 1-0 Last meeting: Mar. 17, 1985, Tech d. Syracuse, 70-53, at the Omni (NCAA East Second Round) Tech in Philips Arena: 1-2 Hewitt Record: 86-45 (.656), 5th season Hewitt at Tech: 20-18 (.526), 2nd season Last game: Dec. 9, Georgia d. Tech, 95-82, in Athens Next game: Dec. 21, vs. Wofford, 3 p.m., Alexander Memorial Coliseum More info: Ramblinwreck.com
Probable Starters F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 6.4 ppg 5.3 rpg F 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 5.5 ppg 7.4 rpg C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 3.4 ppg 5.8 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 16.5 ppg 5.1 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 13.5 ppg 5.3 rpg