Feb. 21, 2012
By Jon Cooper
Georgia Tech gets back at it tonight, following one of its toughest losses despite one of its most inspired efforts of the season, when it takes on Clemson. Tip-off at Philips Arena is set for 7:00 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets dropped an gut-wrenching 74-73 overtime decision Saturday to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Playing without leading scorer Glen Rice Jr., who was suspended, Tech got contributions from everyone, as it had five double-digit scorers.
Kammeon Holsey scored a game-high 18 and Mfon Udofia added 15, including a bucket with five seconds left in overtime that snapped a 72-72 tie and appeared to give Tech the victory. But Dorenzo Hudson’s desperation three at the buzzer stole the game for the Hokies. The game saw five ties and four lead changes in the second half and two more ties and three lead changes in overtime, including two lead-changes in the final five seconds.
The streaky Tigers saw their modest two-game winning streak rudely snapped by North Carolina, 74-52, on Saturday at the Smith Center. Andre Young scored a team-high 13, and Devin Booker added nine with a team-high nine boards, but Clemson shot only 37 percent and committed 15 turnovers in the loss. The Tar Heels used a 20-5 run to open a 15-point, first-half lead and Clemson got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Tonight will be the 120th in a series that dates back in 1913. The Jackets can even the series with a win tonight and snap a four-game series losing streak — three of those games were played at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Yellow Jackets have had great success against Clemson at home, as prior to last year’s home loss, they had gone 13-4 at AMC, and are 40-21 all-time in Atlanta. Tech’s last win over Clemson came on Jan. 19, 2010, when the Jackets won, 66-64, at the Thriller Dome, in a battle of ranked teams (Tech was No. 17/16, Clemson was 19/18).
Today’s game can be seen on Fox Sports South, with Mike Hogewood and Cory Alexander calling the action. Of course, fans can listen to Wes Durham and Randy Waters on Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network’s flagship stations WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM). The game also can be heard via satellite radio on Sirius (Channel 92). Tech fans can always follow the game and get live stats on Ramblinwreck.com.
And now, the starting five for tonight’s game.
The Last Time We Met: The Yellow Jackets nearly came all the way back from a late 16-point deficit, falling short, 64-62, on Jan. 21 at Littlejohn. Tech trailed 34-19 at halftime and by 16 with 3:30 to go, but kept fighting. They went on a 19-6 run to get within three with 27 seconds left but would not get a chance to tie as Andre Young hit two free throws to extend the lead to five. Udofia’s three with five seconds left pulled the Jackets within the final two-point margin. Rice led the Jackets with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Udofia added 10 and Julian Royal chipped in with nine.
Kam Alive: Power forward Kam Holsey has been filling it up of late. He’s led the team in scoring in two of the last three games, scoring a personal ACC-best 17 on Feb. 9 against NC State then topping that on Saturday with 18 at Virginia Tech. Holsey has shot 11-for-21 (52.4 percent) in the two games. His six field goals against the Hokies were an ACC season-best. His season high is 21 points against Delaware State back on Nov. 14, when he hit nine-of-10 FGAs. Holsey is shooting a team-best 54.2 percent at Philips.
Finding The Range: Guard Mfon Udofia snapped out of his shooting doldrums in a big way Saturday. Udofia, who had shot six-for-34 over his previous four games, had his best shooting day of the season, nailing six of eight field goal attempts. He also was a perfect 3-for-3 from behind the arc. The 15-point outburst was the most for Udofia since Jan. 28 at North Carolina. Coincidentally, that was his last double-digit scoring game and the last time he made as many as six field goals in a game, shooting 6-for-12.
After You: To call Georgia Tech unselfish against Va. Tech would be an understatement. The Jackets recorded 14 assists, with all five starters recording at least two, and seven of the eight players that saw the floor recording at least one. It was the first time the entire starting five recorded multiple assists and was the third straight game in which each starter had a helper. They had come close only two days earlier. On Feb. 15 at Wake Forest, the Jackets were one Glen Rice assist short of having all five starters with multiple assists, as Kammeon Holsey (2), Daniel Miller (2) and Mfon Udofia (3) and Brandon Reed (3) each had multiple assists.
February Heat Wave: Brandon Reed should be encouraged to shoot the way he’s been shooting in February. His 4-for-9 day in Blacksburg on Saturday was his fourth game in the five this month in which he’s shot at least 40 percent. Reed is 17-for-42 (40.5 percent) for the month. Take away his 1-for-7 against NC State on Feb. 9 and he’s shooting 45.7 percent. Reed’s best shooting day in January was a 2-for-5 on Jan. 11 at NC State.
The Sixth Man: Until the game-winning shot at the buzzer of OT turned Saturday into one of THOSE days, the Yellow Jackets had been having one of those DAYS. Tech shot 58.3 percent for the game, including a sizzling 66.7 percent in the second half, and they shot 53.8 percent from three, including 75.0 percent in the first half (they hit three of four attempts. They made their free throws, converting nine of 10. The Jackets even performed well on the boards, dominating the Hokies, 32-18. It was the fewest rebounds and offensive rebounds (four) for an opponent in a game all season. It was the first time Tech put all three of those facets together since the Jan. 11 win at NC State.
GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Glen Rice, 13.0 ppg LEADING SCORER (ACC): Glen Rice, 13.7 ppg
CLEMSON LEADING SCORER: Andre Young, 13.5 ppg LEADING SCORER (ACC): Andre Young, 14.3 ppg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Glen Rice, 6.7 rpg LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Glen Rice, 6.6 rpg
CLEMSON LEADING REBOUNDER: Devin Booker, 6.9 rpg. LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Devin Booker, 6.8 rpg.
GEORGIA TECH PPG/ACC: 61.9/59.7 ppg OPP. PPG/ACC: 63.5/67.8 ppg.
CLEMSON PPG/ACC: 64.6/65.7 ppg OPP. PPG/ACC: 60.4/63.8 ppg.
Clemson Player to Watch: Tanner Smith: The senior point is the Tigers’ second-leading scorer in ACC play (11.7 ppg), but can beat you best with his ball control. He’s third in the conference in assists (3.8), and second in steals (1.9), and assist-to-turnover ratio (plus-2.0). Smith didn’t shoot particularly well in the team’s first meeting (three points, 1-for-6, 1-for-4 from three, 0-for-3 from the line), but caused Tech fits by pulling down a team-high six rebounds, dishing out five assists and making four steals, both game highs.