Point Of Emphasis

Jan. 2, 2012

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

The first piece of good news is that Georgia Tech will play at Philips Arena tonight, and the Yellow Jackets won’t have to travel to Gwinnett County to play any more “home” games, not that the Arena doesn’t have perks. As for additional good news, the Jackets are going to have to make their own.

Everything Tech gets this season the Jackets will have to work for, and work hard, and when Alabama (10-2) visits tonight, Tech (7-6) is going to be up against as stiff a challenge as any to date.

There will not be a lot of fireworks tonight. These teams are not just tilted toward defense; it’s who they are.

The Crimson Tide are ranked No. 5 in the nation in field goal defense (36.1 percent) and No. 12 in points allowed per game (56.2). Tech has been among national leaders in several defensive categories this season as well while surrendering a field goal percentage rate of 36.6 and 58.8 points per game.

There is an “if” factor for the Jackets. They have struggled tremendously at point guard, where Mfon Udofia is speedy and energetic, but really geared more toward attacking the basket than running an offense.

Backup Pierre Jordan has had his share of issues this season as well, including a medical issue that required surgery about a month ago. Coach Brian Gregory is hoping that Jordan’s innards have worked themselves out.

“I still don’t think that we’ve seen all the contributions that Pierre can make,” Gregory said.

The Jackets have been challenged offensively pretty much all season, an issue multiplied by the point guard situation.

For Tech to get back in the mix to where it can compete with good teams, the Jackets’ most talented player, Glen Rice Jr., needs to solve whatever ails him.

He was scoreless in Tech’s loss at Fordham the other day, and Tech needs more Rice. “One thing we talk about is you’re either bringing energy or taking energy,” Gregory said, althouth he wasn’t asked specifically about

Rice before that answer.

For one last spell, forget about the pending ACC season and Saturday’s opener, in Philips, against the Blue Devils. Tech will first try to bear down tonight and win its final non-conference game.

“I’m not worried about Duke right now,” the coach said. “Our first focus is on getting better.”

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