Starting Five: Georgia Tech (9-4) Vs. Mercer (1-9) And Tennessee St. (4-8)

Dec. 27, 2010

By Jon Cooper

Sting Daily

TECH LEADING SCORER: Alex Montgomery, 15.2 ppg

MERCER. LEADING SCORER: Briana Williams, 15.7 ppg

TENNESSEE STATE LEADING SCORER: Meredith Stafford, 11.8 ppg

TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Alex Montgomery, 8.6 rpg

MERCER LEADING REBOUNDER: Sharmesia Smith, 6.6 rpg

TENNESSEE STATE LEADING REBOUNDER: Simone Hopes, 6.0 rpg

TECH SCORING: 62.6 ppg

MERCER PPG: 56.9 ppg

TENNESSEE STATE: 58.3 ppg

TECH OPPONENTS SCORING: 54.8 ppg

MERCER: 55.0 ppg

TENNESSEE STATE OPPONENTS: 64.3 ppg

It’s a busy week for the Yellow Jackets, who are back home and ready to open a four-game homestand that will conclude the non-conference portion of their schedule as well as open up their ACC slate.

First up are the Mercer Bears, who visit Alexander Memorial Coliseum tonight. Tonight’s game is Kids Day, with free admission for children under 12!

Coming in on Thursday are the Tennessee State Lady Tigers.

The Jackets are riding a season-high six-game winning streak, having finished a successful trip west, where they routed Portland State and Washington. The latter, was a homecoming for Alex Montgomery, who put on a show, scoring a game-high 20 points — only seven fewer than the entire Washington team — and grabbing eight rebounds. Tyaunna Marshall chipped in 14 and 7, in the 60-27 blowout.

The Bears are having a tough season, as they have lost four straight games and have won only once in their first ten tries. That one win came on the road, at Belmont, but their other four road games have all been double-digit defeats, including a 37-point thumping against Georgia, in Athens, on Dec. 7. Mercer is a very young team, with a roster that has five freshman, six sophomores and only one senior.

The Lady Tigers have fared better than Mercer overall but also have struggled as they have come up short in five of their last six games. They did win their last game, however, a 62-52 win at home against Eastern Kentucky. They bring a 2-5 road mark into the game, but have lost four of their last five on the road.

Tech has had good success with both schools, boasting a 13-6 record against Mercer and winning the only meeting against Tennessee State, back in 1989, a 93-61 rout at AMC. The Jackets are 6-1 at home, with the only loss coming to UConn, but have won two straight since.

Now, the Starting Five for today’s (and Thursday’s) game.

What Have You Done For Me Lately: Mercer boasts six wins all-time against Georgia Tech, but five of those victories came in the schools’ first six meetings, between 1980 and 1983. In fact, they won the first three meetings at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Times have changed, and so has Tech’s fate against Mercer. Since Mercer’s last win in the series, on Feb. 12, 1983, the Yellow Jackets have won 12 of the last 13 meetings and gone 8-0 at AMC. Coincidentally, tonight’s game, as has been the case with the three previous meetings, comes after a four-year hiatus in the series.

Not Too Close, Now: Not only has Tech dominated the series, the games haven’t really been all that suspenseful. In the last 13 games, only three have been decided by less than double-digits, with Tech winning two of the three, including a 70-65 overtime win at Porter Gym on Nov. 24, 1997. That was the last game played on the Mercer campus (Mercer has since moved its games to the University Center). The other games have been decided by an average of 27.5 points, including a 96-50 rout on Dec. 5, 2002 and an 87-48 blowout on Nov. 10, 2006, the last time the two teams played and the only time Coach Jo has coached Mercer.

No Hoops For You: Georgia Tech put the clamps on Washington’s offense, allowing 27 points, which tied the school record for fewest points allowed in a game. The record was originally set against Winthrop on Dec. 18, 2008. In the second half against Washington, Tech allowed nine points, and limited the Huskies to 18.8 percent shooting (3-for-16), while shutting them out from three (0-for 6). Tech held the Huskies without a field goal for 15:18 of the second half, during, which UW shot 0-for-13. For the game, UW shot 25 percent from the floor (10-for-40) and 11.1 percent from three (1-for-9).

Homecoming Queen: Montgomery, who was named ACC Co-Player of the Week, scored not only opened each half with a three-pointer, but scored Tech’s first eight points of the second half, getting all of them in the first 3:40. Her eight for the half was one fewer point than the Huskies entire team managed over the final 20 minutes. Montgomery not only nailed 8-of-11 from the floor, but was 4-for-4 from three. She and Ty Marshall combined for 34 points, on 14-for-24 shooting, outscoring Washington, which had 28 points on 10-for-40. Marshall did most of her damage in the first 20 minutes, as her jumper with 4:26 left in the half gave Tech the lead for good at 17-16 and started an 11-0 run to close the half. Marshall scored six points in the run.

Heeeeeeeeere’s Dani: The long-anticipated debut of Danielle Hamilton-Carter came out West and it was a success. Hamilton-Carter took the court for the first time against Portland State. In 15 minutes, she scored three points (all on free throws) and pulled down five rebounds (tied for third on the team with Marshall, behind Montgomery and Deja Foster). Against Washington, she played 24 minutes, scoring six points, including making her first two field goals, and chalked up her first assist and first steal.

The Sixth Man: LaQuananisha Adams didn’t need long to make her presence felt against Portland State. Adams entered the game at the 6:47 mark of the first half and within 2:11 recorded two blocked shots, a steal and a defensive rebound, fueling a 6-0 run to help Tech jump out to an 18-point lead.

MERCER PLAYER TO WATCH: Kendra Grant: A former three-sport star at Rutland High School in Macon, the 5-11 sophomore guard has been lighting it up of late. She’s led the team in scoring the last three games, averaging 18.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Grant is shooting a team-best 36.4 percent from three and is second on the team in scoring (9.3 ppg) and rebounds (4.9 rpg).

TENNESSEE STATE PLAYER TO WATCH: Meredith Stafford: The 5-6 senior guard is picking up where she left off in 2009-10, leading the Lady Tigers with 11.8 points in a team-high 30.7 minutes. Stafford is shooting 34.0 percent from three, with 16 three-point field goals (second on the team). She’s solid defensively, grabbing 3.3 rebounds per game and leads the team with 23 steals.

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