Starting Five: Georgia Tech (6-4) at Fordham (5-6)

Dec. 26, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Starting Five: Georgia Tech (6-4) at Fordham (5-6)

Georgia Tech comes back Thursday night following a week off for Christmas break, and travels to the Bronx to take on Fordham. Tip-off is at 8:00 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets will have a little bit of a chip on their shoulders and a bitter taste in their mouths as they dropped a 65-59 decision to Mercer in their last game, back on Dec. 22nd — the final scheduled game at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. Glen Rice had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Jason Morris added 10, but the Jackets let a seven-point lead slip away in the final 7:02, in falling to the Bears for the first time since Jan. 28, 1974.

The Rams, who also have been off a week, are coming off one of their best efforts of the season, an 81-70 win over Texas State. The win saw Fordham score its season-high, while holding the Bobcats almost 14 points below their season average (they came in scoring 83.6 ppg). Chris Gaston scored a career-high 36 and grabbed 15 rebounds to lead the Rams, who raised their home record to 4-1.

Thursday night’s game can be seen on CBS Sports Network.com and, of course, can be heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network’s flagship stations WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM). Wes Durham and Randy Waters call the action. Fans who have to rely on satellite radio can catch the game on Sirius Channel 138 — but will hear Fordham’s broadcast. Tech fans can always follow the game and get live stats on Ramblinwreck.com.

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

The Last Time We Met: It’s been decades since Georgia Tech and Fordham have met, as schools’ two meetings came in 1990, 10 months apart. The Jackets won both. In their first meeting, on Feb. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York, No. 13/11 Tech, took an 83-78 victory. That team was on its way to the Final Four led by ACC Rookie of the Year Kenny Anderson, Dennis Scott and Brian Oliver, aka “Lethal Weapon 3.” That Dec. 8, as part of the 1990-91 season, the Rams visited Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Jackets, led by Anderson, Malcolm Mackey, Jon Barry and Matt Geiger came away with a much more decisive 92-72 victory. This will be Tech’s first visit to Rose Hill Gym. It will be the third visit by an ACC school, since the formation of the league. The other two schools were North Carolina State and Maryland. Both won, but by a total of four points — Maryland won 61-58, N.C. State won 65-64. Of course the Terrapins played there in 1957, the Wolfpack visited the Bronx in 1964.

There, That Wasn’t So Bad…: Georgia Tech has completed the Arena at Gwinnett Center portion of its schedule. The Jackets not only survived, but did pretty well with it. They finished 4-1, with only the Mercer loss tarnishing their record. Tech won its four games by 22.5 points and outscored its opposition, 74.8 to 52.2. Including that Mercer game, Tech outscored its opposition 71.6 to 54.8 and although Mercer did score 65 points, the most of any visitor, they still only shot 41.5 percent, matching the highest total of any team. Overall, opponents shot 37.0 percent.

Inside Tech Shooting at Gwinnett: When it came to games at Gwinnett, it seems like the bigger they were, the harder for their shooting numbers to fall. The big men really seemed to enjoy Gwinnett, as Kammeon Holsey was almost unstoppable, hitting 76.7 percent of his shots (23-for-30). Daniel Miller also shot well, at 46.2 percent (18- for-39, and that includes a 2-for-9 vs. Mercer), and Julian Royal hit at 50 percent efficiency (10-for-20). Amongst those who ventured outside the paint, Glen Rice shot 65.7 percent at Gwinnett in his four games (23-for-35) and shot 37.5 percent from three (6-for-16) and that was with a 1-for-6 against Mercer. On the whole, the Jackets shot 48.5 percent.

Outside the Box: Georgia Tech’s three-point shooting didn’t really suffer from the new surroundings. Tech shot 32.1 percent from long range (27-for-84). That’s actually better than last year’s team in last year’s non-conference slate (which saw seven games at Alexander Memorial Coliseum). They shot 30.9 percent (47-for-152).

No Three-dom of Choice: Opponents haven’t really felt at home shooting the three against Tech, especially at Gwinnett. They made a total of 25 percent of their threes (25-for-100). In the five games none of them shot a better percentage from three than Tech and while Alabama A&M and Mercer hit more three-pointers, A&M made one more (5-4) and needed 10 more tries, while Mercer hit three more (7-4) in six more attempts. Last year, opponents shot a healthy 37.5 behind the arc and out-three’d the Jackets four times in seven games (one game was even), by a total of 51-47. That total includes Tech’s 13-6 over Charlotte in the final non-conference game.

The Sixth Man: Six was the magic number as far as Georgia Tech’s three- point shooting at Gwinnett, as Rice, Mfon Udofia and Brandon Reed each hit six threes to lead Tech in the five games played at Gwinnett.

TECH LEADING SCORER: Glen Rice, 14.7 ppg
FORDHAM LEADING SCORER: Chris Gaston, 16.1 ppg

TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Daniel Miller, 7.6 rpg
FORDHAM LEADING REBOUNDER: Chris Gaston, 10.7 rpg.

TECH PPG: 64.9 ppg
OPP. PPG: 57.8 ppg.

FORDHAM PPG: 61.5 ppg
OPP. PPG: 67.0 ppg.

FORDHAM Player to Watch: Chris Gaston: The 6-7 junior forward does it all on either end of the floor. Gaston, who ranked fourth in the nation in rebounding last season, has a nation-leading nine double- doubles in ’11-12 (45 for his career) and has grabbed double-digit rebounds in 10 of his 11 games. The last time out, the Union City, N.J. native and 2010 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year torched Texas State, scoring a career-high 35 on 13-of-17 shooting, while grabbing a season-high-tying 15 boards.

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