Jackets Visit Indiana for Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Nov. 26, 2007

ATLANTA – Coming off a third-place finish in the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Georgia Tech hits the road again for a visit to Indiana in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Yellow Jackets and Hoosiers tip off at 7 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday night in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

Game notes in PDF Format

Radio coverage is provided on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790), WREK-FM (91.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1).

Tech is 3-2 for the season, with its losses coming to UNC Greensboro at home on Nov. 9 and Winthrop on Nov. 18 in the Paradise Jam. The Jackets defeated Charlotte, 82-77, in the opening round of the Paradise Jam, and won the third-place game over Notre Dame, 70-69.

Indiana enters Tuesday night’s game with a 4-1 mark, winning its first four tilts before dropping an 80-65 decision to Xavier on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets and Hoosiers have met only once before, an 87-65 loss for Tech on Dec. 29, 1969 in the Bruin Classic at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.

Georgia Tech is in the midst of a 38-day stretch between home games at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, the longest such stretch since the 1986-87 season, when the Jackets played their home opener on Dec. 1 then did not play at home again until Jan. 14, a period of 43 days. After Indiana, Tech has road games Dec. 1 at Vanderbilt and Dec. 5 at Georgia State, then a break for exams before hosting Kansas on Dec. 18.

Tech is in its 92nd season of men’s basketball at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have an all-time record of 1,192-1,039, dating back to Feb. 17, 1906. Tech is beginning its eighth season under head coach Paul Hewitt (130-97).

TECH IN THE BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE

> The Yellow Jackets are 4-4 in their previous Big Ten/ACC Challenge meetings, including a 75-70 homecourt victory over Penn State last November. Tech has played four Big Ten/ACC Challenge games on Big Ten homecourts, including an 88-86 loss at Michigan State in 2005, a 73-53 win at Ohio State in 2003, a 64-63 loss at Minnesota in 2002 and an 85-67 loss at Iowa in 2000.

> Tech has won all three of its Big Ten/ACC games at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and dropped the only neutral court meeting, an 80-77 verdict against Michigan in 1999 at Philips Arena. The Jackets are 15-29 all-time against the Big Ten.

INJURED PLAYERS RETURN

> Georgia Tech gets back sophomore center Zack Peacock for Tuesday night’s game. The 6-8 Miami native has missed all five games, as well as a significant amount of pre-season practice, with a stress reaction (a precursor to a stress fracture) in his right foot. He has participated in every practice since the team returned from the Virgin Islands. Expected to start this season before his injury, Peacock will not start Tuesday night’s game, but will play.

> Moe Miller, Tech’s freshman point guard who started the first two games of the season, also will play, but not start, Tuesday night after missing all three games Paradise Jam with a back injury. Miller, a 6-1 native of Memphis, Tenn., took a spill into the base of a goal standard in practice the day before the first round of the tournament, sustaining a bone bruise in his lower back.

QUICK LOOK AT TECH

With the injury to Moe Miller in the Paradise Jam, head coach Paul Hewitt started senior transfer Matt Causey at point guard against Charlotte in the first round of the Paradise Jam, then went with junior D’Andre Bell at the position for the games against Winthrop and Notre Dame. The rest of the starting lineup has remained the same for all five games — senior Anthony Morrow and junior Lewis Clinch on the wings, senior Jeremis Smith at strong forward, and junior Alade Aminu at center.

Morrow, a 6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C., who is the Yellow Jackets’ top returning scorer from 2006-07, currently ranks fourth in the ACC with 19.0 points a game. He scored a career-high 31 points with a career-best 10 rebounds at Tennessee State, then averaged a team-leading 13.7 points in the Paradise Jam. One of Tech’s best all-time three-point shooters with 192 for his career, Morrow has hit 48.4 percent of his three-point attempts in five games.

Smith, the team captain and a 6-8 forward from Fort Worth, Texas, made the all-tournament team at the Paradise Jam. Tech’s third-leading scorer at 12.2 points per game and its leading rebounder at 7.6 per game, Smith has three double-figure rebound games this season, one more than all of last year.

Clinch, a 6-3 guard, picked it up in the Paradise Jam after a slow start, hitting 9-of-16 threes and averaging 13.3 points in three games while also giving out 11 assists. The Cordele, Ga., native is Tech’s fourth-leading scorer at 11.0 points per game, and has hit 46.2 percent of his three-point attempts.

Aminu, a 6-10 center from Stone Mountain, Ga., who enjoyed a solid final month to the 2006-07 campaign, established career-bests for points (25 on 12-of-14 FG) and rebounds (9) at Tennessee State, and currently stands second on the team in both scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.8 per game).

Bell, a 6-5 native of Los Angeles, scored 12 points with eight rebounds against Charlotte. He averages 5.4 points for the season with 11 assists and six steals and has hit 9-of-13 shots from the floor.

Backcourt reserves — Miller, a 6-1 native of Memphis, Tenn., averaged 9.0 points and 3.5 assists in Tech’s first two games. Causey, a 6-0 native of Gainesville, Ga., who hit the game-winning three-point shot against Notre Dame in the Paradise Jam, made 50 percent of his shots in the tournament, and leads the team in assists for the season with 21 against just nine turnovers. Six-foot-4 freshman Lance Storrs of Decatur, Ga., has excellent long-range shooting ability but has played limited minutes thus far.

Frontcourt reserves — Hewitt can go to 6-8 freshman Gani Lawal of Norcross, Ga., 6-11 red-shirt freshman Brad Sheehan of Latham, N.Y., and 6-10 sophomore Mouhammad Faye of Dakar, Senegal. Lawal scored 12 points with six rebounds against UNCG. Sheehan, who did not play against the Eagles, played 15 solid minutes at Tennessee State with five points, two assists and a blocked shot. Faye has played mostly in situations where Tech needs his length on defense.

The Jackets have played all five games without 6-8 center Zack Peacock, who had sustained a stress reaction in his right foot, and the sophomore is set to return to the court Tuesday night at Indiana.

QUOTING COACH HEWITT

What did you learn about this team in the Virgin Islands, and what’s different about it now than before you went there?

“We are growing up. I think this is a team that is learning its roles a little better and understanding what is required of them, especially the guys that have been playing more prominent roles and having the responsibility that comes with having one of those roles. The Virgin Islands trip was outstanding for us. We were very fortunate to win that Notre Dame game, and that’s a huge confidence boost for us. We’ve had some great practices since we returned and I’m really anxious tog et out there tomorrow night and see what we look like.”

How have Moe Miller and Zack Peacock practiced this week coming back from their injuries?

“They are fine. Moe seems to be 100 percent, and Zack still seems to have a little twinge in there. We are hoping that it is just soreness you get when coming off an injury. But he has added a real positive boost of energy to our practices.”

Even though you said you are not going to start him tomorrow night, what is he going to add when he gets out on the floor?

“He is a very smart basketball player on the defensive end of the floor. He runs really well, just all positives — energy level, defensive intelligence, offensive intelligence, ability to shoot the three. I’m not sure he is quite there yet in terms of his timing shooting the basketball. There are just a lot of positive IQ type things he adds to this basketball team.”

With Moe not playing in the Virgin Islands, did D’Andre Bell and Matt Causey gain some valuable experience soaking up his minutes?

“It was a good experience for D’Andre and Matt, and it was also good for Moe to sit there and watch things and see more how they run. I thought D’Andre’s confidence really soared. Matt Causey, that shot, is really a huge shot for us. He played really well, and I think the Notre Dame game could be a turning point for us. You don’t know until you get back on the court. We are playing in a very hostile environment in Assembly Hall.”

Defensively, what kind of progress are you seeing?

“Great progress, talking more, more communication, more active with our hands. We had 47 deflections against Notre Dame. That was a high for the year. We are moving into position to take charges and make steals and to be disruptive on defense. So again, I just want to see a step forward from the other night. I’m very encouraged by what I see. Our practices have been more like what I expect out of our team. Alade Aminu and Lewis Clinch, in particular, have shown some real strides of maturity.

TECH CARRIES ON OFFENSIVELY

Head coach Paul Hewitt has said repeatedly this season that his Yellow Jackets can score, but the team’s success will depend on defense and rebounding the basketball.

> Tech is averaging 79.6 points per game (5th in the ACC), is hitting 47.8 percent of its shots from the floor (4th in the ACC) and 42.7 percent of its three-point attempts (2nd in the ACC). Last season, the Jackets’ season scoring average of 78.6 points per game (3rd in the ACC) and its field goal percentage of 49.0 percent (also No. 3) were the best figures the Jackets have achieved in seven seasons under head coach Paul Hewitt.

> Tech ranks second in the ACC in assist-turnover ratio (1.11-to-1) and is second in assist average (18.2 per game). The Jackets have assisted on 63.6 percent of their made field goals.

> Four Yellow Jackets are averaging in double figures, led by Anthony Morrow (19.0 ppg). In the Paradise Jam, four Tech players averaged between 12.0 and 13.7 ppg over three games.

> Without Zack Peacock, Tech has not been as dominant on the boards as it was last year, but the Yellow Jackets still hold a rebounding edge of 3.4 per game this year.

> Defensively, Tech ranks at or near the bottom of the league in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense, three-point percentage defense and blocked shots.

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