Starting Five: Georgia Tech (8-12, 1-5) at No. 7 North Carolina (17-3, 4-1)

Jan. 28, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Georgia Tech looks to right the ship in a very tough place, when they visit Chapel Hill to take on seventh-ranked North Carolina. Tip-off at the Smith Center is at 6:00 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets dropped their fourth straight and eighth in nine games Tuesday night, falling, 64-49, to Miami at Philips Arena. Mfon Udofia had 14 to lead three Jackets’ double-figure scorers. The Jackets trailed by 13 at the half and by as much as 17 but hung in and cut the lead to nine with 9:14 to go, but could get no closer. Tech shot only 33 percent for the game, 25 percent in the second half.

The Tar Heels made it 12-0 at home on the season Thursday night, bouncing N.C. State, 74-55. Tyler Zeller had 21 points and a career-best 17 rebounds and Reggie Bullock added 11 points in his first career start, replacing injured Dexter Strickland, who was lost for the year with a knee injury. UNC limited State to season-lows in points and shooting (36.8 percent) and led by as much as 31 in the second half.

Today’s game is the 85th in a series that dates back to 1925. Tech trails, 64-20, but has had the Tar Heels number in recent years, having won four straight in the series. They are 5-27 in road games, but four of those wins have come at the Smith Center, including their last visit there, on Jan. 16, 2010, a 73-71 victory.

Today’s game can be seen on the ESPNU, with Jon Sciambi and Hubert Davis 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 91, the Carolina broadcast). 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: Iman Shumpert and Glen Rice each had career-highs and Georgia Tech limited North Carolina to its fewest points in the Roy Williams era in a 78-58 victory on Jan. 16, 2011 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Jackets led wire-to-wire, limiting the Heels to 27.6 percent shooting, 20.0 percent in the second half, and turned 18 turnovers into 25 points. Tech led 33-32 at the half, then ran roughshod over UNC, playing without center Ed Davis, shooting 52.9 percent in the final 20. Rice had eight points and Shumpert six in a 16-5 run late in the second half that broke open a close game, giving Tech it’s biggest lead at 18.

Super-Mfonic: Junior Mfon Udofia is on his way to his best season as a Yellow Jacket. He’s scoring 10.8 points a game (12.2 in ACC play), four points better than his best, last season, with 11 double-figure-scoring games, he is shooting over 41 percent (his best had been 37.3 last year), has made 22 three-point field goals, leaving him only four away from setting a single-season best, his free throw shooting, over 65 percent (65.1) also is a season-best and he’s even pulling down more boards than ever, with 3.4 per game, nearly a full rebound better than his career high.

Slow Out of the Gate: Georgia Tech’s troubles over the last four can be traced to cold shooting over the first 20 minutes. In their losses at Maryland, against Virginia, at Clemson and against Miami, the Jackets have shot only 29.1 (30-for-103) in the first 20 minutes. They’ve been outscored 128-77, three times being held below 20 points. It’s also made a bigger hill to climb in the second half, where they have shot 41.9 percent and have been close in three of the four games, being outscored 131-122.

On The Rebound: Georgia Tech has made a solid commitment on the glass. The Jackets are fourth in the ACC in rebound differential (plus-1.2), grabbing 33.8 rebounds per game (UNC leads the conference at plus-12.8, pulling down 44.2 rpg). Glen Rice, Jr. is Tech’s leader in ACC play, grabbing 6.3 per game, good for 12th in the conference. He also is eighth in defensive rebounds, pulling in 4.7 per game.

Movin’ On Up: Rice. has been working his way up the ACC leader boards in a bunch of categories. Tech’s leading scorer and rebounder within the conference, the junior is seventh in scoring (15.8 ppg), 12th in rebounding (6.3), seventh in field goal percentage (45.1), fourth in three-point field goal percentage (40.0), seventh in three-pointers made (2.0), and eighth in defensive rebounds. He’s doing it in 30.8 minutes a game.

The Sixth Man: The Jackets’ plus-4 edge on the glass against Miami marked the fourth time in six ACC games that they won the battle on the glass. They also did it in their first two games against Duke (plus-12) and at N.C. State (plus-5). Since they were beaten 45-22 by Virginia, the Jackets have been plus-15 — 37-26 over Clemson and 36-32 over Miami.

TECH LEADING SCORER: Glen Rice, 13.6 ppg
LEADING SCORER (ACC): Glen Rice, 15.8 ppg

NORTH CAROLINA LEADING SCORER: Harrison Barnes, 17.3 ppg
LEADING SCORER (ACC): Harrison Barnes, 17.6 ppg

TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Glen Rice, 6.6 rpg
LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Glen Rice, 6.3 rpg

NORTH CAROLINA LEADING REBOUNDER: John Henson, 10.1 rpg
LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Tyler Zeller, 12.0 rpg.

TECH PPG/ACC: 62.4/59.2 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 62.5/68.5 ppg

NORTH CAROLINA PPG/ACC: 84.5/73.8 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 66.6/65.8 ppg

NORTH CAROLINA Player to Watch: Harrison Barnes: The hot-shooting sophomore is leading the Tar Heels in scoring and is second in the conference in scoring (17.3 ppg), fourth in scoring in conference play (17.6 ppg). He’s been the high scorer 11 times, and has been scorching of late, having hit 17 of his last 25 shots (68.0 percent). Barnes will certainly be looking to exact some revenge on Tech after being to 11 points in 23 minutes, on 3-for-13 shooting last season.

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