Dec. 1, 2015
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
Georgia Tech heads into December looking to build on its successful November, taking on Wofford of the Southern Conference. Tip-off at McCamish Pavilion is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a mixed weekend in Brooklyn in the NIT Preseason Tip-Off. Tech beat Arkansas, 83-73, on Thursday afternoon, then dropped a 69-52 decision to No. 8/9 Villanova in the Championship Game on Friday. Forward Charles Mitchell went for 16 points and 11 rebounds against the Wildcats, converting 7 of 12 field goal attempts. It was his sixth straight double-double to start the season. But he was the only Jacket to score in double figures. Tech used an 11-0 run over 5:30, bridging the final 3:33 of the first half and opening 1:57 of the second to tie the game at 30, but they could not take the lead and eventually ran out of gas against the Wildcats. The Jackets struggled offensively all day, as their 52 points, 20 field goals, two three-point field goals, 10 free throws and seven assists all were season-lows.
The Terriers, the defending Southern Conference champion and two-time defending SoCon Tournament champ, won for the second time in three games and recorded their first road win of the season their last time out, earning a 68-58 win at Presbyterian. Senior guard Spencer Collins scored a season-high 21 with six rebounds, to lift the Terriers. Collins nailed a pair of three-pointers to help the Terriers finally shake the stubborn Blue Hose, who they beat for the sixth straight time. Senior forward Justin Gordon added 11 for Wofford, which won despite shooting 38.3 percent.
Tuesday’s game will be the 15th meeting between Georgia Tech and Wofford — all of them in Atlanta — with the Jackets holding a 12-2 all-time series edge and trying to extend their series winning streak to nine. The teams have not met since Dec. 21, 2001.
The game can be seen on ESPN2 with Nathan McCreary and Jon Babul calling the action. It also and 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 and on satellite radio on Sirius Channel 132 and XM Channel 201. Tech fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on RamblinWreck.com and the GT Gameday App.
And now, the Starting Five for Tuesday night’s game.
The Last Time We Met: B.J. Elder scored 15 points to lead five double-digit scorers and Georgia Tech used a pair of big second-half runs to overcome Wofford’s upset bid, 79-70, on Dec. 21, 2001 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Jackets trailed by as much as 12 in the first half, by 11 early in the second and by seven with 11:54 remaining, but went on a 16-1 run to take the lead then pulled away with a late 11-0 spurt. Marvin Lewis added 14 points, and Halston Lane and Robert Brooks each added 12. Brooks sparked the 16-1 run, scoring eight points. Tech survived Wofford’s 50 percent shooting in the first half and their own game-long cold shooting from three — 26.1 percent on 6-of-23, only 3-for-11 in the second half.
Let’s Go Three-king: Adam Smith continues to be the kind of three-point threat Georgia Tech counted on when the signed him. Heading into the game with Wofford, Smith has made at least one three-pointer in every game this season and has made a team-high 16 on the season — the rest of the team combined has hit 20. He’s shooting 40 percent (16-for-40) while the rest of the team is at 21.5 percent (20-for-93). Smith had an up-and-down trip to Brooklyn, torching Arkansas with a season-high five three-point field goals (going 5-for-7) but then making a season-low-tying one in six tries against Villanova. That one three-pointer did extend Smith’s streak of making at least one three this season to six games and his personal streak to eight. He made at least one in 30 of 33 last year for Virginia Tech, including his career-long streak of 12 games (beginning Jan. 25 vs. Virginia through March 2 vs. Boston College, ending March 7 against Miami) and has made at least one in 75 of 84 career games.
Tech Trivia: Who had the longest streak of games with at least one three-point field goal for Georgia Tech last season?
Free and Clear: Charles Mitchell has been a double-double machine for the Jackets this season, and while much has rightfully been made about his work ethic on the boards, little has been made about his success at the free throw line. Mitchell is hitting 78.3 percent at the line (18-for-23). In only one game has Mitchell missed as many as two FTAs. That came on Thursday against Arkansas, when he matched his career-high by attempting 10 free throws and set a career-best my making eight of them. Mitchell began his senior season as a 45.1 career free throw shooter, but has improved dramatically since coming to Georgia Tech. He shot a career-best 66.3 percent last season (55-for-83) and is currently hitting at 68.9 percent efficiency overall (73-for-106) as a Jacket. In his two seasons at Maryland, Mitchell shot 41.6 percent (50-for-120), including a disastrous sophomore season when he made only 32.9 percent (23-for-70).
We’re Linin’ Up!: Mitchell’s not alone in success at the charity stripe. Georgia Tech has done a great job getting to and, more important, converting from the foul line in its first six games. The Jackets have outshot their opponents 123-101 in their first six games while outscoring them 85-65, and they’ve won the battle at the line, both in attempts and points in five of the six games — the one game they didn’t, Green Bay outscored them by one (13-12), and outshot them by three (21-18). The key is Tech’s 69.1 percent shooting from the line vs. their opponents’ 64.4. It’s a 180 from last season, when the Jackets took five more free throws than their opponents (560-555), yet were outscored by 21 (384-363). Tech’s free throw shooting didn’t allow them to take better advantage of their edge at the line, as they made only 64.8 percent vs. opponents’ 69.2
The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech holds a 107-33 all-time edge against current members of the Southern Conference, a .764 winning percentage. They are 0-1 against the SoCon this season, however, as East Tennessee State edged the Yellow Jackets, 69-68, on Nov. 22 at McCamish Pavilion…Tonight’s game will be the third time Brian Gregory has coached against Wofford but the first time with Georgia Tech. He was 2-0 against the Terriers while at Dayton… Trivia Answer: Marcus Georges-Hunt and Chris Bolden each connected for at least one three-pointer in seven consecutive games last season. Georges-Hunt’s streak began Jan. 31 against NC State and continued through Feb. 21 at North Carolina, ending Feb. 23 against Louisville. Bolden began his run two games earlier, Jan. 25 against Boston College and went through Feb. 14 against Florida State…The Jackets finished November 4-2. That’s typical in the Brian Gregory Era, as the Jackets are now 22-11 in Novembers. They’d like to continue the trend of good Decembers as well, as they are 16-6 under Gregory…Marcus Georges-Hunt will make his 100th career start. He played game No. 100 Friday against Villanova.
GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, Charles Mitchell 15.3 ppg
WOFFORD SCORING LEADER: Spencer Collins, 15.2 ppg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Charles Mitchell, 12.5 rpg
WOFFORD REBOUNDING LEADER: Cameron Jackson, 7.0 rpg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Josh Heath, 4.7 apg
WOFFORD ASSISTS LEADER: Eric Garcia, 2.8 apg
GEORGIA TECH PPG: 82.5 ppg
OPP. 2014-15 PPG: 72.7 ppg
WOFFORD PPG: 66.4 ppg
OPP. PPG: 70.4 ppg
WOFFORD Player To Watch: Spencer Collins: The 6-4, 205-pound senior guard is the big dog for Wofford. The Terriers’ lone representative on the preseason All-Southern Conference Team, Collins is the team’s leading scorer, reaching double figures in nine straight games dating back to last season and is rapidly moving up the school’s all-time chart, beginning the night five points away from cracking the top 20. He’s also durable, having never missed a game since arrivin at Spartanburg, S.C. He’ll make his 106th start, fifth all-time in school history. He’s also a first-class human being, as he’s wearing the number 12 this season in tribute to his late teammate, Jeremiah Tate, who died tragically last June 22, in a drowning accident while serving as a camp counselor.