Starting Five: Georgia Tech (5-4) vs. Richmond (8-2)

Dec. 18, 2010

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Tech Leading Scorer: Iman Shumpert, 14.6 ppg
Opponent’s Leading Scorer: Kevin Anderson, 17.1 ppg

Tech Leading Rebounder: Brian Oliver, 5.6 rpg
Opponent’s Leading Rebounder: Justin Harper, 6.1 rpg.

Tech Scoring Average: 69.9 ppg
Opponent’s Scoring Average: 65.0 ppg.

Richmond Scoring Average: 73.7 ppg
Opponent’s Scoring Average: 59.1 ppg.

Richmond Player to Watch: Kevin Anderson: The Spiders’ leading scorer was last year’s Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and an Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American. Anderson is an Atlanta native, who played three years at Whitefield Academy then his senior year at Peachtree Ridge, which he led to a victory over Norcross High, its only loss on the way to a No. 2 national finish.

With final exams in the rear-view mirror, Georgia Tech is in the Bahamas for the weekend. But this is not R&R for the Yellow Jackets, as they’ve got a big game to play against Richmond in the inaugural Battle At Atlantis at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET.

The Jackets are looking to build off their 69-59 victory over Savannah State last Saturday, at the Thrillerdome. Iman Shumpert led the way with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Daniel Miller chipped in with a career-high 14. Tech had four players in double-figures in ending a three-game losing streak.

The Spiders of the Atlantic 10 are 8-2 on the season and boast a modest two-game winning streak since a loss at neighboring Old Dominion. Their résumé includes impressive wins against then-No. 8 Purdue and at Arizona State.

The game will not be televised but can be heard heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network’s flagship stations WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM) Randy Waters will fly solo, on the broadcast. Fans also can follow the game on Ramblinwreck.com.

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

Gimme Life On the Road: This weekend’s trip to the Bahamas continues a trend of Georgia Tech playing in exotic locations. Since the 2006-07 season, Tech has been to Hawaii for the EA Sports Maui Invitational, to St. Thomas for the 2007 Paradise Jam, and to San Juan for the 2009 O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off. It’s little wonder they want to go back, as in addition to racking up frequent-flyer miles and soaking up the sun, they’ve also chalked up the victories, having gone 6-3 overall (2-1 at each event). The Jackets also were big in Japan in their one trip to Asia. In 1986, as participants in the Suntory Ball, Tech brought home wins over Boston College and SMU.

Non-arachnophobia: Today’s game is the 10th all-time meeting in the series between the Georgia Tech and Richmond. Tech holds a 5-4 edge, and has won four of the last five meetings. However, there may not be any tangible momentum boost from the streak, as the teams haven’t met since Feb. 17, 1993, when the Jackets edged the Spiders, 65-60, at The Robins Center. The teams have met once in postseason play, and Richmond took that game, 59-55, in a 1988 East Regional Second Round game played in Hartford, Conn. The Spiders, a 13-seed, had knocked off Indiana before beating Tech and finally losing in the Sweet 16 to Temple. The Jackets also were briefly introduced to Richmond Head Coach Chris Mooney. The Jackets were rather rude, grounding Mooney’s Air Force squad, 64-42, on Dec. 11, 2004 at Philips Arena.

Just A Bump In The Road: Super-athletic freshman forward Jason Morris was held scoreless for the second time this season in Tech’s last game against Savannah State, playing a season-low eight minutes and going 0-for-4. But don’t let that game fool you. It’s atypical of how much he already has contributed and will contribute. More indicative was Morris’ three previous games, in which he shot 62.5 percent (10-for-16). That means that even with the 0-for-4 against Savannah, he’s still shooting 50.0 over his last four games.

Good News, Bad News: The win over Savannah State was filled with all kinds of mixed messages. Tech shot only 35.1 percent from the floor, its lowest total in seven games, and only 23.1 from three, its lowest since the season-opener. The good news was the Jackets got to the foul line a season-high 36 times and made a season-best 26 free throws. There was bad news in that they were out-rebounded, 43-34, the second time that’s happened in three games and allowed the Tigers to pull down the most rebounds of any opponent since opening night opponent Charleston Southern. The good news was that once lost possession of the ball they were very good at getting it back, making the most steals (14) that they had in six games. The Jackets also were very careful with the ball once they got it back, committing a season-low six turnovers, the first time all season they were in single-digits. Obviously, the best news of all was that they came away with the resounding win.

Turning Over a New Leaf: The six turnovers against Savannah State continued a trend for Georgia Tech when it comes to turnovers. The Jackets are giving the ball up 12.9 times a game. That’s 3.5 fewer times per game than last year and is fourth in the ACC. Last season, they finished 11th in the conference. That extra caution has earned them an ACC-leading plus-5.2 turnover margin. That, in turn, has paid off as they are 5-1 in games where they’ve won the turnover battle.

The Sixth Man: Another interesting note from the win over Savannah State was that despite leading by as much as 21 in the first half, opening the door for reserves to get some action, the bench was kept off the scoreboard. It’s the first time in 330 games under Head coach Paul Hewitt that has happened. While Hewitt undoubtedly will take the win, it’s probably something he can wait another 330 games — if not longer — to see again.

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