Starting Five: Georgia Tech (8-13, 1-6) at No. 21 Florida State (14-6, 5-1)

Jan. 31, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Georgia Tech looks to get February off to a good start when it visits Tallahassee to take on 21st-ranked Florida State. Tip-off at the Donald L. Tucker Center is at 7:00 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets fell, 93-81, to No. 7 North Carolina at the Dean Smith Center their last time out, on Sunday afternoon. The loss was their fifth in a row and ninth in 10 games. Mfon Udofia had 16 and Jason Morris added 15 for Tech. The Jackets got only four points from Glen Rice, who was slowed by a right leg injury, and could not overcome the Tar Heels’ 60 percent first-half shooting and 10 three-point field goals.

The Seminoles have been off a week, but come in riding a five-game winning streak, which includes wins over North Carolina and at Duke. Their last time out, FSU pounded Wake Forest, 75-52, at Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem. Michael Snaer had 18, including 4-for-4 from three, to lead the Seminoles, who shot 50.9 percent for the game and 50.0 percent from three. The ‘Noles used an 18-2 second-half run to pull away after Wake had cut a six-point halftime deficit to two.

Today’s game is the 63rd in a series that dates back to 1963. Tech has had its difficulties with the Seminoles, who lead the all-time series, 35-27, and have won six straight meetings. The Jackets last win in the series came on Feb. 13, 2007 at the Tucker Center, a 63-57 victory, which capped a Tech season sweep.

Tonight’s game can be seen on RSN with Rich Waltz and Mike Gminski 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 134, the Seminoles’ 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 had 25 points and Glen Rice added 24, but the Yellow Jackets shot only 30 percent from the floor and dropped a 72-63 decision last Feb. 10, at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Tech forced 17 turnovers, but was unable to recover from a near-seven-minute, first-half coring drought, during which Florida State went on a 14-0 run. The Jackets, who trailed 30-18 at the half, pulled to within seven with 5:49 to play, but got no closer.

Hold That Line: Contributing to Georgia Tech’s recent difficulties has been losing the battle behind the three-point line. After winning those battles with Duke and NC State — outshooting them, 53.5 to 26.8 (Tech outscored them, 15-11), the Jackets have been outshot from three in four of the last five games. Opponents have shot a combined 47.5 percent from behind the arc to the Jackets’ 30.5 percent and have made 12 more three-point field goals, 38-26. In Florida State, the Jackets face the ACC’s top three-point shooting team, as FSU shoots 41.2 percent from three in conference games and makes 7.0 threes per game. Tech shoots 36.3 percent, third in the ACC, and has made only one fewer three.

You Go, Mo: Sophomore Jason Morris will try and build on his strong second half against North Carolina on Sunday, when he put in all of his ACC-season-high 15 points. His 5-for-11 shooting also was the best he’s shot in a conference game and the best since he went 6-for-10 at Fordham on Dec. 29. The three three-point field goals was one fewer than he’d hit in his previous six conference games and his .600 night from behind the arc — he was 3-for-5 — was tops for him in ACC play and the best since the game at Fordham, where he was 4-for-7.

Nice Job, Pierre: Point guard Pierre Jordan produced a solid effort off the bench Sunday. In 18 minutes, the most he’s played since coming back from injury, he scored seven points on 3-for-3 shooting, including 1-for-1 from three, while handing out four assists against only one turnover. The seven points and three field goals are season-highs, while the 4:1 assist-to-turnover ratio is his best since Nov. 23 against Siena, when he had four helpers and no turnovers. He’d like to have a nice game tonight, in his return to Tallahassee, where he played from 2008 through 2011.

At Home Away From Home: Morris’ strong offensive performance on Sunday came right where it should have been expected to be, outside of Atlanta. He has been Tech’s leading scorer away from home, this season, averaging 11.1 points per game on 44.9 percent shooting (46.9 from three) in road games. Morris leads the team with 31 field goals made, 15 three-pointers made, and is third on the team in blocked shots (six, he has 12 on the season). Brandon Reed also has enjoyed playing away from home, as he’s second on the team, averaging 10.3 ppg. He’s second, behind Morris in field goals (29, tied with Daniel Miller), three-pointers made (10) and free throws (24).

The Sixth Man: Freshman Julian Royal has put together two of his better shooting nights of his freshman season in the last two games. Royal followed up his 5-for-7 effort against Miami with a 4-for-9 at North Carolina. That’s 56.3 percent shooting in those two games. He’s also hit two-of-three three-point attempts and has pulled in 11 rebounds. Royal’s four offensive rebounds against the Tar Heels are a career-best in ACC play, while his six rebounds match his ACC-high, set against Duke. Both are one off his career-best totals, set Dec. 19, 2011 vs. Alabama A&M.

TECH LEADING SCORER: Glen Rice, 13.1 ppg
LEADING SCORER (ACC): Glen Rice, 14.1 ppg

FLORIDA STATE LEADING SCORER: Michael Snaer, 13.8 ppg
LEADING SCORER (ACC): Michael Snaer, 14.0 ppg

TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Glen Rice, 6.5 rpg
LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Glen Rice, 6.0 rpg

FLORIDA STATE LEADING REBOUNDER: Bernard James, 8.9 rpg
LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Bernard James, 9.2 rpg

TECH PPG/ACC: 63.3/62.3 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 63.9/72.0 ppg

FLORIDA STATE PPG/ACC: 72.3/74.5 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 62.0/65.0 ppg

Florida State Player to Watch: Michael Snaer: The junior guard has been feeling it all season long. The ACC Player of the Week two weeks ago, Snaer is 10th in the ACC in scoring in conference play, He’s the biggest three-point threat on the ACC’s top three-point shooting team, hitting 38.2 percent of his attempts, with 34 three-pointers made, including the buzzer-beater that beat Duke at Cameron on Jan. 21. He’s coming off a sizzling game against Wake, where he was 4-for-4 from behind the arc. In FSU’s five-game winning streak, he’s hitting 52.9 from three (9-for-17), and is 6-for-7 over the last two games.

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