Starting Five: Georgia Tech (9-16, 2-9) at Virginia Tech (14-12, 3-8)

Feb. 17, 2012

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Georgia Tech looks to bounce back from a tough mid-week loss and snap its five-game ACC road losing streak with a visit to Blacksburg, Va., to take on Virginia Tech. Tip-off at Cassell Coliseum is set for 3 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets dropped a 59-50 decision at Wake Forest on Wednesday night at Joel Coliseum. Glen Rice had 12 points and nine rebounds, both team highs, and Daniel Miller added 11, with seven rebounds and five blocked shots. The Jackets overcame a seven-point halftime deficit by opening the second half on a 10-0 run, and led 41-38 with 7:00 to play, but Wake then went on an 11-0 run of its own, opening up a 49-41 lead and they were never headed.

The Hokies were denied their first winning streak in conference play on Thursday, dropping a heartbreaker, 48-47, at No. 20 Florida State. Erick Green had 18 points and four steals, both game highs. A Tech 16-5 run turned a seven-point half-time deficit into a four-point lead. The lead reached 15 before the Seminoles chipped away, cutting the lead to nine with 1:29 to play. FSU then closed on an 11-1 run, taking advantage of five missed free throws in the final minute and getting a game-winning three by Michael Snaer with four seconds left. The Hokies, who had won two of three heading into Tallahassee, will try and make it three straight conference wins at Cassell.

Today will be the 17th match-up in a series that began back in 1921, but really heated up once Virginia Tech joined the ACC in 2004. The Hokies lead the series 12-4 (8-3 since joining the conference) and have had the better of the series of late, having won two straight and five of six. The Jackets have especially struggled at Cassell Coliseum, where they have not won in six visits. Prior to last season, when the teams met three times (Va. Tech took two of three) with all three games decided by double-digits, five of the previous six meetings were decided by eight or fewer points.

Tech will be without the services Saturday of leading scorer and rebounder Glen Rice, Jr., who was suspended Friday and did not make the trip, and reserve center Nate Hicks, who will miss his third straight game because of mononucleosis.

Today’s game can be seen on Fox Sports South, with Mike Hogewood and Eddie Fogler 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 93) and XM (Channel 191) — Virginia. Tech’s broadcast). Tech fans can always follow the game and get live stats on Ramblinwreck.com.

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

The Last Time We Met: Glen Rice scored 14 and Iman Shumpert added 12, but the Yellow Jackets fell, 59-43, to Virginia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. The Jackets never led in the game and trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half, as they shot only 23.3 percent. Tech never got closer than 14 in the second half. The 43 points and four free throws attempted in the game were both season-lows.

Sul-Dan of Swat: Center Daniel Miller rose to the occasion Wednesday night in a game that featured two of the ACC’s top shot-blockers — Miller and ACC leader Ty Walker of Wake — by turning away a game-high five shots. The five blocks were a season-high for Miller and matched his career-high in an ACC game (last Jan. 30 against Maryland and Feb. 20, 2011 at Duke). His career-best is seven, set in his college debut, Nov. 12, 2010 against Charleston Southern. Miller sits in sixth place on Tech’s all-time list for career blocks, as his rejection of a Travis McKie layup with 1:57 left in the first half was the 128th of his career, moving him into past Gani Lawal (2008-10).

More Miller Time: Miller’s 11-point effort marked his fourth consecutive double-digit-scoring game, that’s a career-high. Miller has shot 64.3 percent in the stretch (18-for-28) and has been economical, as he’s made five field goals in the last two games and at least four in each of the four yet has not taken more than eight shots in any of them. Prior to this stretch, Miller had one double-figure scoring game in ACC play this season and hadn’t had a five-field goal game.

Second Thoughts: Georgia Tech followed what has become a familiar pattern against Wake Forest, as they used a strong second half to nearly overcome a slow start. Against the Demon Deacons, Tech nearly doubled its scoring (33 from 17) and its shooting percentage (48.1 percent from 25.0) in the final 20 minutes. Tech has used big second halves in each of its last eight games. Unfortunately, they’ve needed them to dig out of first-half holes, as they’ve managed 20-or-fewer points five times and only once have scored more than 30. They’d scored 40 points in the first half of each of their first two ACC games (vs. Duke and at NC State).

A Good Reed On the Road: Brandon Reed likes life on the road — or at least scoring on the road. Reed is leading the Yellow Jackets in scoring in road games, averaging 11.1 ppg. Glen Rice, Jr. is next at 10.2 ppg, then Jason Morris at 9.7 and Mfon Udofia at 9.1. Reed has also become the Jackets’ main three-point shooter away from home, as he’s made a team-high 17 threes and is shooting 38.6 percent. He’s heated up from three over the last two games, as he’s made seven threes — he’d made three in his first four ACC road games — and is shooting 43.8 percent (7-for-16).

The Sixth Man: When Georgia Tech defeated Georgia at Stegeman Coliseum on Dec. 7, for the first time since 1976, Head Coach Brian Gregory backed away from doing something legendary coach Bobby Cremins never did, saying he has a long way to go to be compared to Cremins. He’s not as far away as he thinks in one regard. With a win today, Gregory will be exactly where Cremins finished his first season on The Flats both in wins and in ACC wins. Cremins’ Jackets finished 10-16 his first season with Georgia Tech and was 3-11 in conference play. We all know how things went from there.

GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Glen Rice, Jr., 13.0 ppg
LEADING SCORER (ACC): Glen Rice, Jr., 13.7 ppg

VIRGINIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Erick Green, 15.6 ppg
LEADING SCORER (ACC): Erick Green, 16.2 ppg

GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Glen Rice, Jr., 6.7 rpg
LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Glen Rice, Jr., 6.6 rpg

VIRGINIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Dorian Finney-Smith, 7.0 rpg.
LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Dorian Finney-Smith, 5.6 rpg.

GEORGIA TECH PPG/ACC: 61.4/58.5 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 63.1/67.2 ppg.

VIRGINIA TECH PPG/ACC: 65.8/58.7 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 61.6/63.6 ppg.

Virginia Tech Player to Watch: Erick Green. The junior point guard can do it from either end of the floor, as he’s averaging 15.6 points (seventh in the ACC), 2.8 assists (10th) and 1.6 steals (sixth), the only player in the top 10 in all three categories. He’s also among conference leaders in field goal percentage (.458, seventh), free throw percentage (.816), and minutes (34.0, fifth). Green brings a 27-game double-figure scoring streak into tonight’s game, the longest such streak in the ACC and the school’s longest streak since Jackets killer Malcolm Delaney did it in 32 straight from March 2008 until Feb. 8, 2009. Green passed the 800-point plateau on Feb. 9 at Miami, which is remarkable, considering he only scored 88 points his freshman campaign.

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