Dec. 19, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Georgia Tech looks to make it two straight wins and five out of six, when it hosts Vanderbilt in a Saturday afternoon tilt at McCamish Pavilion. Tip-off between the two former SEC rivals is set for 2 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets got back in the win column Monday night at McCamish, taking care of Appalachian State, 70-57. In their first game since completing Finals Week, the Jackets closed the first half on a 19-8 run over the final eight minutes to break the third tie of the game and gain some separation from the Mountaineers, taking a 36-25 lead into the locker room. Tech led by double-digits throughout the second half and used a 9-0 run to blow things open, leading by as much as 20 midway through the second half. Marcus Georges-Hunt led four double-digit scorers with 15 points, all in the first half. In the second half, with Georges-Hunt in foul trouble, Demarco Cox scored seven of his 13 points, while Tadric Jackson, who scored seven straight points in the second-half run, and Robert Sampson, 10 points, eight boards, keyed the charge off the bench, which outscored App. State’s, 32-10.
The Commodores also stayed hot, making it three out of four on Tuesday night, using a big second half to down Western Carolina, 99-79. The win was Coach Kevin Stallings’ 299th at the helm in Nashville. Guard Riley LaChance went for 26 off the bench, 17 in the second half, hitting 5-of-8 from three-point range. Forward James Siakam added 20 points (12 of 13 free throw attempts) and seven rebounds, while starting center Damian Jones had 16. Vanderbilt, trailed 44-41 at the break but shot a sizzling 69.6 percent in the final 20 minutes and used a 14-2 run over five minutes early in the second half to finally break away from the Catamounts, who shot 62.1 percent in the first half. Vandy’s lead hit 22 late in the game.
Saturday will be the 73rd meeting between the schools, which were rivals in the SEC from 1932 through 1964 (with Tech was 22-31 vs. the Commodores in that stretch), making this Tech’s third most-frequently played series among non-ACC schools. It also completes a home-and-home series. Georgia Tech trails 39-33 overall but is 22-13 in games played in Atlanta and has won the last six home games (going back to 1962). This is the first game between the two at McCamish Pavilion.
The game can be seen online on ESPN3 and can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, WYAY (106.7 FM), with Brandon Gaudin and Randy Waters on the call and via Satellite Radio on Sirius (Channel 93) and XM (Channel 193). Tech fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on Ramblinwreck.com.
And now, the Starting Five for Saturday afternoon’s game.
The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech saw its three-game winning streak snapped, suffering a 76-63 defeat at Vanderbilt last Dec. 21. The Jackets used a 19-4 run to jump out to a 29-15 lead with 6:00 remaining in the first half. But the home team closed the gap with a 12-0 run to end the half as part of an overall 21-2 run to take a five-point lead with 17 minutes to play. The Commodores never trailed thereafter. Tech shot 34.4 percent in the second half, and only made 16 percent from three all day (4-for-25), while Vandy shot 59.1 in the final 20 (50.0 for the game) to pull away. Daniel Miller had a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double and Solomon Poole added 11 points, with a team-leading three three-point field goals.
Double Your Pleasure: Redshirt senior forward Demarco Cox has stepped it up offensively in his first season with Georgia Tech. The Jackets’ leading percentage shooter (.574), Cox has scored in double figures six times in his nine games with the Yellow Jackets. That’s only three fewer times than he reached double digits in 102 games over four seasons (one redshirt) with Ole Miss. Cox matched his season-high with six field goals Monday against the Mountaineers, shooting 6-for-7.
Tech Trivia: Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt met one time with both teams ranked, in the 1993 Kuppenheimer Classic played at the Georgia Dome, as No. 14 Tech topped No. 24 Vanderbilt, 86-77 in overtime. Who recorded a double-double to lead the Yellow Jackets that night?
Close-Out Sale: On Monday night, Georgia Tech made 8-1 this season (.889) when leading with five minutes to play. A big reason for the Jackets’ ability to close out games is their improvement in getting to and converting at the free-throw line. Tech is taking more free throws (23.1 per game) and is making more (14.1) than any year in the Brian Gregory Era. Tech’s 23.1 FTAs are up four from last season and the 14.1 FTMs are up one while the 21.2 percent of the offense from the line is the largest in the four years under Gregory. The Jackets are getting plenty of practice in late-and-close situations, as all but one of their games has been decided by 10-or-fewer points. They are 5-2 in those games. and the 44-6 (.880) under Brian Gregory.
Charles In Charge: One of the biggest success stories at the foul line thus far this season is Charles Mitchell. The 6-8 junior forward, who transferred from Maryland, is converting at 69.0 percent. That’s more than double his success rate from last season, when he shot .329 from the stripe. In fact, through nine games, Mitchell has made 20 free throws in 29 attempts. That’s three fewer FTMs than he made in 32 games and 70 attempts last season.
The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech’s football team will be presented its Coastal Division trophy in a halftime ceremony… GT is winning nearly 60 percent of the time at home under Brian Gregory (32-22, .593), and better than 64 percent at McCamish Pavilion (25-14, .641)…Robert Sampson made a huge difference on both ends of the floor Monday night. He not only had his second double-digit effort in three games against Appalachian State but the Jackets were plus-26 with him on the floor…Tech Trivia Answer: James Forrest led Georgia Tech with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Travis Best added 22. Fred Vinson’s three point field goal with 11 seconds remaining forced overtime as Tech overcame a six-point deficit with 42 seconds remaining…Georgia Tech had four double-digit scorers against App. State for the second time this season. They are 2-0 and 21-7 all-time in such games under Gregory…Travis Jorgensen played a team-high 25 minutes against Appalachian State as all 15 Jackets saw the floor. Gregory’s ability to distribute time made Tuesday the fifth time in nine games that the Tech has not had a player go at least 30 minutes…Georgia Tech has a 212-224 all-time record against the SEC, with a conference championship in 1938.
GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 11.4 ppg
VANDERBILT SCORING LEADER: Damian Jones, 17.2 ppg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Charles Mitchell, 7.2 rpg
VANDERBILT REBOUNDING LEADER: Damian Jones, 7.2 rpg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Josh Heath, 4.3 apg
VANDERBILT ASSISTS LEADER: Wade Baldwin IV, 5.2 apg
GEORGIA TECH PPG: 67.7 ppg
OPP. PPG: 61.0 ppg
VANDERBILT PPG: 74.7 ppg
OPP. PPG: 61.8 ppg
VANDERBILT Player To Watch: Damian Jones: The 6-10, 250-pound sophomore center, from Baton Rouge, La., is a big reason why the Commodores are off to a 7-2 start. Jones ranks in the top five in the SEC in scoring (17.2 ppg, tied for second), rebounding (7.2, fourth), field goal percentage (.598, fifth) and blocks (1.7 bpg, fifth). A preseason All-SEC First Teamer, Jones has led the Commodores in scoring five times and rebounding seven times this season and has six career double-doubles. He has scored in double-figure in all but one game of the 40 he’s played in his collegiate career. Jones has shot at least 50 percent in all nine games this season and is near 70 percent from the line (44-for-63), averaging nearly seven FTAs per game.
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