Starting Five: Georgia Tech vs. No. 17/15 Miami

Feb. 6, 2016

By Jon Cooper | The Good Word

Georgia Tech, which has lost three straight at home, will try to get back to its winning ways, when it takes on No. 17/15 Miami, losers of three of their last four road games, in a Sunday afternoon match-up. Tip-off at McCamish Pavilion is set for 1 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets lost for the sixth time in seven ACC games and the third straight time at home in conference play, dropping an 80-71 decision to Duke Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion. Adam Smith and Nick Jacobs each scored 17 points — Jacobs also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds — to lead four double-figure scorers for the Jackets. Tadric Jackson added a season-high 15. Tech shot 58.1 percent in the first half, outscored Duke, 28-10 in the paint, to took a 40-36 lead into the break. But they went cold in the second half, shooting only 31 percent, including going 0-for-11 from three, as Duke, which was coached by Jeff Capel, as Mike Krzyzewski was ill and did not travel with the team, rallied in the second half, shooting over 55 percent and hit five of 10 three-point tries. The Blue Devils took the lead with 14:40 to play, then went on an 18-2 run to open up a 17-point lead. The Jackets pulled to within seven in the final minute but would get no closer. GT finished with a 46-30 edge in points in the paint, an 11-4 edge off turnover and 23-10 off the bench.

The Hurricanes won for the fourth time in five games since snapping a season-high two-game losing streak, topping Notre Dame, 79-70, Wednesday night at BankUnited Center. Freshman guard Anthony “Amp” Lawrence Jr. lit up the Fighting Irish, coming off off the bench to score a career-high 18, requiring only six shots to do so. He led five double-figure scorers. Lawrence went 5-for-6, 4-for-4 from three for the Hurricanes, who shot a sizzling 63 percent in the first half and 56.4 percent for the game. Miami closed the half on a 21-9 run over the final six minutes to break open a close game and take a 45-30 lead into halftime. The lead reached 20 in the second half and never fell below double-digits. Tonye Jekiri pulled in a game-high 12 rebounds Miami, which actually was out-rebounded 35-30 and 17-8 on the offensive glass.

This game will be the 20th between the schools, with Miami holding an 11-8 edge and having won four of the last six. Georgia Tech has won two of the last three meetings, both on the road, will try to get to .500 in the 10th meeting in Atlanta and seeks its first win against the Canes in three tries at McCamish Pavilion.

The game can be seen on ESPNU with Anish Shroff and Cory Alexander calling the action. The game also will be streamed on the WatchESPN app. It can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, WYAY (93.7 FM) and 680 The Fan (680 AM), with Brandon Gaudin and Randy Waters on the call. You can also hear their call via satellite radio, on Sirius (Channel 83) and XM (Channel 193). Fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on RamblinWreck.com and the GT Gameday App.

And now, the Starting Five for Sunday’s game.

The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech snapped its seven-game losing streak and earned its first conference win of the season, stunning 23rd-ranked Miami, 70-50, at the BankUnited Center, last Jan. 28. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored his then-ACC career-high 24 points to lead the Yellow Jackets, who shot 56.8 percent from the game in leading wire-to-wire. Chris Bolden chipped in 13 points and Demarco Cox had 10 with seven rebounds. Tech jumped out to an 11-2 lead less than four minutes in, led by as much as 14 in the first half and took a 34-26 lead into halftime. An 11-5 burst coming out of the locker room pushed the lead back up to 14. Miami cut the lead to eight, 51-43, with eight minutes remaining, but the Jackets answered with an 8-0 run of their own — four points each by Cox then Georges-Hunt — and cruised home, leading by as much as 24. Tech not only shot well (57.1 percent in the first half, 56.5 in the second), they also defended, limiting Miami to 34.5 percent. The 20-point win is the largest margin of victory in an ACC road game for Georgia Tech under Brian Gregory.

Quarterback Safety: When Cam Newton and Peyton Manning take the field for Super Bowl 50 they’ll try to keep turnovers to a minimum. They might be inspired by watching Georgia Tech’s threesome of Marcus Georges-Hunt, Josh Heath and Travis Jorgenson. The trio has made protecting the ball a strength for Georgia Tech this season. That was obvious again on Tuesday night, when the trio combined for 13 assists vs. one turnover. Georges-Hunt, who has done the majority of the ball-handling in ACC play, set a career high, dishing out seven helpers — he’d hit six on five previous occasions — while committing just one turnover. In the four games since going minus-2 at Virginia Tech on January 16, Georges-Hunt has 16 assists vs. seven turnovers and has not had more than two miscues in a game. Heath and Jorgenson combined for six assists (three each) with no turnovers. Heath has an 8:1 ratio over his last four games, Jorgenson is 8:2 in that span, both have three clean games. Their play has rubbed off on the rest of the team. The Duke game saw the Jackets commit only six turnovers, the eighth time in 12 games they committed fewer than 10 turnovers. They had three such games all last season. Tech ranks fourth in the ACC and 13th in the country committing 10.1 turnovers per game, 9.3 in conference play. Last year they averaged 12.7 turnovers per game, 195th.

Tech Trivia: The biggest comeback win in the Brian Gregory era came at No. 6 Miami on March 6, 2013, when Georgia Tech overcame a 13-point, second-half deficit to win at the buzzer. Who scored the winning basket in that game?

Rank and Defiled: Being ranked has been anything but an advantage in this series. Sunday’s game will be the seventh time in which Georgia Tech or Miami has been ranked when the schools have met. The ranked team has lost four of the six games and has been on the short end in each of the last three. That includes back-to-back Yellow Jacket road wins on March 6, 2013, when they upended the Hurricanes, 71-69, and last year, when on Jan. 28, 2015, they routed the ‘Canes, 70-50. This will be only the second time Tech has hosted such a game. The other was actually the first such meeting on Jan. 6, 2005, an 80-69 rout of Miami by the No. 9/10 Jackets. Georgia Tech and Miami have never met with both teams in the top 25.

On the Three-bound: Look for a big game from Georgia Tech from behind the arc. The Jackets shot 2-for-19 (10.5 percent), 0-for-11 in the second half, against Duke. It matched their lowest percentage of the season (Nov. 16 against Tennessee), was the third time all season they made as few as two three-pointers in a game and the first time in 16 games. Each time, the Jackets bounced back in a big way in the ensuing game. The game after Tennessee, GT nailed a season-high 11 threes on 45.8 percent shooting against Green Bay. Then, after the 2-for-14 game against Villanova on Nov. 27, they shot 8-for-18 (44.4) from three against Wofford. Miami is third in the ACC in conference games in defending the three, with opponents shooting 29.4 percent. To bounce back, the Jackets will need Adam Smith to do so. Smith shot 1-for-6 from downtown against Duke, his third game with one 3PT FGM in the last five, and is hitting 25.9 percent in home ACC games (he’s at 47.2 away from McCamish). Adam still leads the ACC in three-point shooting (3.55 in conference games, 3.18 overall) and would already have surpassed Tech’s three-point leader in each of the last six seasons. With two three-point field goals on Sunday he’ll pass Lewis Clinch, who hit 71 in 2008-09. Smith is 12 away from setting his career-high set last season.

The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech will try to continue a trend today, as they’ve never gone 0-2 to start a February under Brian Gregory…Sure, the ACC is tough, but Georgia Tech’s road has been especially rugged. Miami will be the eighth team in the top nine in the conference the Jackets have played so far — the only one they have yet to play is Clemson. They combine for a .730 winning percentage (149-55). Their schedule is ranked 19th in nation according to CBSSports.com RPI rankings…Trivia Answer: Marcus Georges-Hunt, then a freshman, tapped in his own missed layup as time expired to give the Jackets a 71-69 win at the BankUnited Center. Tech had trailed 45-32 early in the second half and kept the Hurricanes from clinching the ACC regular season crown…Tadric Jackson not only scored a season-high 15 points against Duke but also had a season-best six FGMs. The latter matched his ACC-best set March 10, 2015, against Boston College in last year’s ACC Tournament. The outburst was welcome, as Jackson had three points over the previous two games, and hadn’t made a field goal (0-for-7). He’ll try to find his three-point stroke now, as he was 0-for-6 from downtown against the Blue Devils and is 0-for-9 over his last three games…The Jackets were out-rebounded 39-38 against Duke. It was only the second in ACC play that they’ve been out-rebounded in ACC play — the first time since the conference opener at North Carolina — and the fourth time all year (they’re 1-3 in those games, 0-2 in the ACC). The Jackets enter the game second in the ACC rebounding margin (plus-3.7). Miami is 13th in the ACC in rebounding margin (minus-2) and Tech holds nearly a five-rebound edge on the offensive glass (39.0-34.9). Miami has been out-rebounded seven times (they’re 4-3), five times in ACC play (3-2).

GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 15.6 ppg
GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 17.1 ppg
MIAMI SCORING LEADER: Sheldon McClellan, 16.1 ppg

MIAMI SCORING LEADER (ACC): Sheldon McClellan, 17.8 ppg

GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Charles Mitchell, 10.5 rpg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Charles Mitchell, 8.9 rpg
MIAMI REBOUNDING LEADER: Tonye Jekiri, 9.9 rpg

MIAMI REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Tonye Jekiri, 9.3 rpg

GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Josh Heath, 3.6 apg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 3.7 apg
MIAMI ASSISTS LEADER: Angel Rodriguez, 4.1 apg
MIAMI ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Angel Rodriguez, 4.4 apg

GEORGIA TECH PPG/ACC: 75.9/73.3 ppg
OPP. PPG/ACC: 71.8/76.3 ppg
MIAMI PPG/ACC: 78.6/70.1
OPP. PPG/ACC: 66.1/65.8

MIAMI Player To Watch, Sheldon McClellan: The explosive 6-5, 200-pound redshirt senior guard has been a force for the Hurricanes over the last nine games, averaging 17.1 ppg and scoring in double figures in each game. On the Jerry West Award, Naismith Trophy and Robertson Trophy watch lists, the former Texas Longhorn, has the top five scoring games for Miami this season and really comes on in the second half. In the final 20 minutes of ACC games McClellan has nearly doubled his scoring (11.8 points up from 6.0), shot almost eight points higher (51.0 from 43.9), been five points better from three (28.6 vs. 23.5) and shot nearly eight points higher from the line (87.8 percent, up from 80.0). McClellan will have redemption on his mind, as last year against Tech, he scored only six points, his ACC-low, on 2-for-7 shooting, 0-for-2 from three.

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