No. 20 Tech Visits Wake Forest

Feb. 11, 2010

Complete Game Notes |  Raycom TV Affiliates |  ESPN360.com

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s 20th-ranked (AP) basketball team, tied for sixth place in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings, completes a two-game week on the road Saturday with an 8 p.m. regionally-televised game at Wake Forest.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (17-7, 5-5 ACC) vs.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (17-5, 7-3 ACC)
Date:
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Tipoff: 8 p.m. Eastern time
Site: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Television: Raycom – Steve Martin play-by-play, Dave Odom color
Radio: Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, live on flagship station WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY-FM (106.7). Wes Durham play-by-play, Randy Waters color.
Satellite Radio: XM 190, Sirius 211
On the web: Audio and live stats available at Ramblinwreck.com, live video streaming on ESPN360.com.
Series History: Wake Forest leads, 35-33
Tech at Joel Coliseum: Tech has a 5-15 record in Wake Forest’s home arena.
National Rankings: Tech is ranked No. 20 in both the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

Tech, 17-7 overall, 5-5 in the ACC, is tied with Florida State and Clemson in the middle of a conference where three games separate first and eighth place. The Yellow Jackets, who have beaten three top-25 teams since Jan. 1 (No. 5 Duke, No. 12 North Carolina and No. 17 Clemson), have no more ranked teams on their schedule in the regular season, but have four games against teams that are receiving votes, and three against teams ahead of them in the standings.

The Jackets, who dropped a 64-62 decision Wednesday night at Miami, have a 3-5 record on the road this year, 1-4 in conference play.

Wake Forest, 17-5 overall and 7-3 in the ACC, is alone in third place, one game behind first-place Duke. The Demon Deacons have won three straight games since losing to Tech in Atlanta on Jan. 28, and have won five of their last six.

A win Saturday would give the Yellow Jackets a regular-season sweep of Wake Forest for the second time in three years. A loss would mean a split for the fifth time in six seasons. Of the six remaining ACC games on Tech’s schedule, four are against teams the Jackets will meet just once.

The Jackets have been one of the better defensive teams in the ACC and the nation this season, LEADING the ACC and ranking SECOND IN THE NATION in field goal percentage defense (36.8 pct.) in all games, and second in the ACC in league games only (39.3 pct.). The Yellow Jackets have allowed 70 points in a game only five times in the last 19 games, and have not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 44.6 percent from the floor this year.

Tech is ranked No. 20 in this week’s Associated Press poll of writers, two above its pre-season rank and one below its highest position, and are also No. 20 in the ESPN/USA Today poll of coaches, same as its its pre-season spot and five below its apex.

Series History with Wake Forest

> The Yellow Jackets have won four of the last five meetings, including a 79-58 decision earlier this season in Atlanta. It was the highest margin of victory for Tech in the history of the series. Tech now trails the overall series, 35-33.

> The home team has won 27 of the last 35 regular-season games in the series, with Wake Forest winning four times in Atlanta during that span, and Tech winning four times in Winston-Salem.

> Tech has lost nine of the last 11 meetings at the Joel Coliseum, and is just 5-15 in the building. Tech is 9-22 against Wake Forest on the road, including a 2-3 mark in regular-season games played in Greensboro and a 2-4 mark in games played in Winston-Salem prior to the opening of Joel Coliseum.

> Tech is 30-24 against Wake Forest since 1985, including 12 straight victories from 1985-91.

> Tech is 10-11 against Wake Forest under head coach Paul Hewitt, and 12 of the 21 meetings have been decided by fewer than 10 points (four in overtime). The Jackets are 4-1 against Dino Gaudio-coached Wake Forest teams.

> Tech is 10-16 against Wake Forest when the Demon Deacons are ranked in the top 25, 12-8 when the Yellow Jackets are in the Top 25, and 3-5 when both teams are ranked.

Providing for the Common Defense

Georgia Tech has been one of the better defensive teams in the ACC and the nation this season, a consistent reason why the Yellow Jackets have won 17 games.

> Tech LEADS the ACC and ranks SECOND IN THE NATION in field goal percentage defense (36.8 pct.) in all games this season, and are second in the ACC in league games only (39.3 pct.). Against the three, the Jackets are sixth in the conference and 45th in the nation (30.7 pct.).

> Head coach Paul Hewitt’s team also ranks in the upper half of the ACC in rebound average (3rd) and rebound margin (5th, 33rd nationally), while also ranking in the top 50 nationally in blocked shots (34th) and steals (47th).

> In ACC games only, Tech leads the conference in blocked shots, is third in steals, second in rebound average and fifth in rebound margin.

> The Yellow Jackets have allowed 70 points in a game only five times in the last 19 games, and have not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 44.6 percent from the floor this year. Tech has a streak of 29 straight games without an opponent shooting 50 percent against it.

> Only seven opponents, including Tech’s seven losses, have shot as high as 40 percent from the floor against the Jackets this year.

Close Encounters of the Hoop Kind

Five of Georgia Tech’s ACC games this season have been decided by exactly two points. Another was decided by four, and two others by seven, one of those in overtime.

> Georgia Tech’s first five ACC games were decided by a total of 24 points, including three straight two-point decisions.

> Only Boston College (3-4 record) has played as many ACC games decided by five points or less, or that have gone to overtime, as has Georgia Tech (4-3 record in such games).

Tech’s only ACC games decided by more than seven points were its 79-58 homecourt win over Wake Forest and an 86-67 loss at Duke. The 21-point margin over Wake Forest was the largest in an ACC game since the Yellow Jackets defeated Clemson on the road, 74-50, on Feb. 6, 2003, and Tech’s third-largest winning margin in an ACC game under Paul Hewitt. Tech’s top winning margin in an ACC game under Hewitt is 31 points, a 77-46 win over Florida State on Jan. 30, 2003.

Head Coach Paul Hewitt – February 11, 2010

When you called the time out in the air and started to run in the second half, do you think you may have been rushing it a bit?

“In the first half, I thought we were rushing it a bit. I called a timeout when we got to 24-17 after we got a 3 at the corner. We just took some bad shots. Second half, during that stretch we took jump shots and came out at the other side. I know the stretch you’re talking about. When you’re on the road, the teams kind of stretch it out and open on the margin. You’ve got to play to get a little more high percentage shot.”

In looking at the way the game finished, do you ever look back and wonder “what if?”

“No, I think you look at it as “We did not finish off the game.” We didn’t step up to the challenge. You immediately think of the next thing. Ok, we have a challenge on our hands, let’s see how we response to it this time. You’ve got to use it as a positive energy and use it as a challenge. You can’t look at it and say “Oh wow, everything’s wrong.”

Do you think some negative thoughts have creeped into the guy’s heads over the past few games with the struggles on the road and the conference?

“Not in last night’s game. The kid made a tough shot. We had every reason to fold last night. The thing that was really positive about it was that the young guys led the comeback. Iman (Shumpert) was having a tough night, Derrick Favors) got in foul trouble. Zach (Peacock) was having a tough night. But those three young guys got us back in the game. We had every reason to fold. When you watch it on tape, Derrick and Glen (Rice) really defended well; he just put it up and it went in. I would’ve loved the chance to go to overtime.

Are you surprised at how the freshmen have stepped up to the plate …

Not surprised but happy. Those guys are really coming along. I’ve said that as those guys get better, our team’s going to get better. The way these guys are coming along, they can only get better. Again the kid made a tough shot at the end of the game, so now we’ve just got to get ready for Wake Forest.”

With that being said, are you concerned about the direction of the team?

“No, we’ve got a pretty solid year built up so far. We’ve just got to finish this strong.”

In all fairness, considering the way things have gone as of late, do you still consider this a definite lock for a tournament team?

“If the bids went out today, I’d say we’re in. But they don’t go out today.”

The last time you played Wake Forest was arguably your best performance of the year. Since then has the direction surprised you?

“We’ve lost our road games. We’ve won our home games. That’s life in this league. I think we’re certainly capable of doing better. But if you ask me if I’m surprised, you know, it’s life in this league.

At what point do you talk to your team about the NCAA Tournament?

“We talk about things like that at the beginning of the year. Now it’s about taking care of what’s right in front of you. If we take care of business, we’ll be fine. It’s all about February 13th and playing well against Wake Forest.

You’ve got three teams tied at .500 in the ACC. Do you think .500 in the ACC is enough to get you into the NCAA tournament?

“We are right now the second-best defensive team in the nation (in terms of field goal percentage defense). There are a lot of positive things going on. Unfortunately, the way things are looked at these days, it’s always to look at the negatives and go from there. We did a very poor job defending, but the kid did have the presence of mind to shot-fake and had to make a tough shot. But I can’t allow this team to look and think everything is bad. No, everything’s not bad. I can think of 300 teams that want to change positions with us right now. But at the same time, we have to keep getting better. We have to get more consistent plays every time. Maybe at the Wake Forest game we had everything hitting. I think it’s a matter of concentration and focus, no question about it. I don’t think it’s a matter of physical effort, because our conditioning level is pretty good. That’s why we’re a good defensive team, but our decisions at times aren’t the soundest. We have to keep getting better.”

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