Starting Five: Georgia Tech (4-4) at Georgia (4-4)

Dec. 6, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Georgia Tech will try to snap a two-game losing streak in its most important non-conference game of this, or any, season, when it heads to Athens to take on rival Georgia. Tip-off at Stegeman Coliseum is at 7:00 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 57-52 loss at Tulane Saturday afternoon. The Jackets played smothering second-half defense and used a 12-2 run to overcome a 10-point second-half deficit and tie the game at 46, but ran out of gas down the stretch. Jason Morris had 12 to lead Tech in scoring for the second straight game, and Glen Rice, Jr. added 11 points and 11 rebounds

The Bulldogs have dropped three straight and four of five, but have fallen against some rugged competition, including No. 20 California, No. 12 Xavier, Colorado of the Pac-12 and Cincinnati of the Big East. Their one win in that stretch came against Notre Dame of the Big East. Five of the games in this seven-game gauntlet, which includes tonight’s game against Georgia Tech, and concludes with Southern California, have been on the road. In their last game, the Bulldogs led by 12 in the first half but dropped a 57-51 decision to Cincinnati in the Big East/SEC Challenge. Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Jackets in scoring with 16.

Today’s game can be seen on Fox Sports South with Dave Neal calling the play-by-play and Larry Conley providing color analysis. As always, the game can be heard on the Georgia Tech/IMG Sports Network’s flagship stations WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM). Wes Durham and Randy Waters call the action as only they can. Fans also can hear the game on Sirius Radio, channel 220 and XM, channel 200 and follow the game and get live stats on Ramblinwreck.com.

Here now, the starting five for today’s game.

We Meet Again: Georgia Tech and Georgia will be meeting for the 188th time in this series that dates back to 1906. The Yellow Jackets hold a 101-86 lead in the series, but have dropped two straight and three of the last four, including last season’s 73-72 heartbreaker at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. In that game, the Jackets led by 10 in the first half and 70-65 with 2:14 to play.

Greek Tragedy: Athens, and especially Stegeman Coliseum, has not been kind to Georgia Tech. The Jackets dropped the building’s inaugural game, in 1964, have dropped 25 of the 28 games played there and 13 straight. The Jackets’ last win at Stegeman was a 64-43 win to open the 1976-77 season. In fact, Brian Gregory could become the first Tech coach since Dwane Morrison to earn a win in Athens. Bobby Cremins was 0-4 at Stegeman and Paul Hewitt was 0-5. Tech has come close, as five times in eight meetings since 1995, the Jackets’ margin of defeat has been by seven or fewer points.

500 and counting: Point guard Mfon Udofia’s jumper at the 15:23 mark of the first half in the game against Tulane was big at the time, as it started a 15-0 run that turned a 13-4 deficit into a 19-13 lead. The shot would be as momentous on a personal note for the junior point guard. The points were his 87th and 88th of the season and put him over 500 points for his career. Udofia would add seven more points and come up a point short of hitting double-figures for the seventh time in eight games this season, but his 11.9 ppg is nearly double his career average and he is well on pace to passing his season-best for double-digit scoring games. He did it nine times in each of his first two seasons.

Fadeaway Threes: Georgia Tech has cracked down on opponents’ three-point shooting this season. Opponents are hitting 36.4 percent from behind the arc, but in the three games since coming back from the Charleston Classic, opponents have shot only 28.3 percent (13-for-46). That percentage goes down even further in the second halves of those games, as Siena, Northwestern and Tulane combined to make just 7-for-26 attempts (26.9 percent).

Playing It Clean: The Yellow Jackets’ stress of team defense is paying off. They have allowed only one opponent to score as many as 70 points, and have held six of its eight opponents under 40 percent shooting. They’re also keeping opponents off the foul line, as they are 18th in the nation in fewest fouls committed (63).

The Sixth Man: Tech also has shot well on the whole this season. The Jackets have shot at least 50 percent from the floor in four of its eight games, including all three games at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Last season the Jackets never shot 50 percent in a game.

TECH LEADING SCORER: Glen Rice, Jr. , 13.7 ppg
GEORGIA LEADING SCORER: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 13.9 ppg

TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Glen Rice, Jr., 8.7 rpg
GEORGIA LEADING REBOUNDER: Marcus Thornton, 6.9 rpg.

TECH PPG: 57.0 ppg
OPP. PPG: 60.5 ppg

GEORGIA PPG: 59.9 ppg
OPP. PPG: 61.0 ppg

Georgia Player to Watch: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: The freshman sensation from Greenville High School, is the Bulldogs’ leading scorer and has led them in scoring in five straight games and six of their eight games this season. The first McDonald’s All-American to sign with Georgia in 20 years and the first true freshman to start since 2004, he has scored in double-figures in every game and is as dangerous in the paint as he is from the perimeter.

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