Starting Five: Tech (7-2) at Georgia (4-3)

Dec. 19, 2015

By Jon Cooper | The Good Word

Georgia Tech rides a season-high-tying three-game winning streak and 7-2 record into Athens Saturday to take on arch-rival Georgia in this year’s renewal of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. Tip-off at Stegeman Coliseum is scheduled for 12 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets are coming off an impressive 77-64 win over VCU on Tuesday night at McCamish Pavilion. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored a game- and season-high-tying 20, going 11 of 12 from the free throw line, Charles Mitchell added a 12-point-11-rebound double-double and the Jackets held Rams’ hot-shooting guard Melvin Johnson to 17 points and 2-for-8 shooting in the second half. The game was tied at 27 at the break but Tech got a lift from its bench, especially Quinton Stephens, who hit a pair of big threes, James White, who grabbed a season-high five offensive rebounds, and Tadric Jackson, who recorded a season-best four assists, to pull away from the Rams. The win moved Tech to 7-2 for the third time in four years under Brian Gregory.

The Bulldogs are back on the court after 11 days off for finals. They pulled themselves back over .500 their last time out, taking care of Winthrop, 77-64, at Stegeman Coliseum. Sophomore forward Yante Maten recorded his second career double-double, going for a career-high 24 points and 12 rebounds. Guard J.J. Frazier recorded his first career double-double, going for 15 points and 10 rebounds (he also had five assists) and guard Charles Mann had 14 for the Bulldogs, who led by eight at the break, led by Maten, who needed a little more than 11 minutes to hit double-figure scoring. The lead reached 16 and stayed a three-possession game the rest of the way.

Saturday’s game will be the 192nd meeting between the intra-state rivals. Georgia Tech holds a 105-86 edge but is 31-51 all-time in Athens and only 6-25 at Stegeman Coliseum. The Jackets have won four straight in the series — they’re perfect in the Brian Gregory Era — and have won back-to-back games at Stegeman for the first time since the building opened in 1964.

The game can be seen on SEC Network with Richard Cross and Andrew DeClercq 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 83 and XM Channel 190 — the Georgia broadcast. Tech fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on RamblinWreck.com and the GT Gameday App.

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

The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech opened the 2014-15 season on a high note, topping Georgia, 80-73, at McCamish Pavilion on Nov. 14, 2014. Quinton Stephens led the Jackets with 22 points, hitting six three-pointers, both game- and career-highs, and forward Charles Mitchell made a memorable Georgia Tech debut, scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds. A 10-0 run early in the first half put the Jackets up nine and a 16-3 run last in the first half pushed the lead to 16 as Tech led 42-32 at intermission. Georgia fought back, getting to within three with 34 seconds remaining, but the Jackets hit six of eight free throws to keep the Bulldogs at bay and put the game away.

Q43: Quinton Stephens has found his stroke from three-point range. The junior forward and a captain this season has shot at 60 percent from downtown over his last four games (6-for-10), making at least one three-pointer in each game. The four-game streak with a three-point FGM ties for the second-longest of his career — he started last season making one in each of the first six games, starting with the six-threes in the opener against Georgia. Stephens, who has made at least one three-pointer in seven of Tech’s nine games, hit back-to-back threes in the second half Tuesday night, to turn a 39-36 lead into 45-36. It was the fourth multi-three-point field goal game for Stephens this season, three fewer than he had last season. He’ll look to have back-to-back games with multi-3-point-field goals for the first time this season and the second time in his career. The first one was Feb. 16 against Clemson, then five days later at North Carolina.

Tech Trivia: Quinton Stephens’ six three-pointers against Georgia last season were his career-high and the team’s single-game high last season. What is the Georgia Tech record for most three pointers in a game?

Second Verse, Same As The First: Charles Mitchell hopes his second game against Georgia is as efficient as his first. The Atlanta native poured in 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting in his debut to the rivalry. The eight field goals matched his career-high — he’s twice surpassed it since. Mitchell also grabbed nine rebounds. The 20-point game was his first and is one of two for his college career. Coincidentally, the other also came in this year’s season-opener, when he scored 21 against Cornell, also, setting a career-high with 10 field goals.

Second To Won: It’s no accident that Georgia Tech is 6-1 this season when leading at halftime. Over their last four games, especially, the Jackets have clamped down over the final 20 minutes. Against Arkansas, Wofford, Tulane and VCU, the Jackets led by a total of six points — they were up three on Arkansas, up two on Wofford, up one on Tulane and tied against VCU. They went on to win those games by a total of 47 points, beating Arkansas by 10, Wofford by 16, Tulane by eight and VCU by 13. The defense was key, as the Jackets limited the four teams to 33.3 percent shooting (42-for-126). The Jackets have been superb in closing games under Gregory, as they are 49-21 when leading at the half.

The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech is 4-0 under Brian Gregory against Georgia. A win today would give Tech its first five-game series win streak since ”Whack” Hyder led the Jackets to a series-high 10 straight from Dec. 11, 1958 through Feb. 25, 1961…James White was especially active on the offensive glass in the win over VCU, grabbing a game-high five offensive rebounds, part of his eight rebounds total. He also scored six points on 3-for-7 shooting. The rebounds, points and field goals were the most for White since the season-opener against Cornell, while the five ORBs matched his season high, also set against Cornell…Trivia Answer: Dennis Scott hit 11 three-point field goals against Houston on Dec. 28, 1988, leading the No. 17/17 Yellow Jackets to an 87-78 win over Houston in the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii…Tadric Jackson’s four assists against VCU were a season-high and one off his career-best set last Feb. 16 against Clemson. It was his third multi-assist game of the season — he had five such games as a freshman. Jackson has six helpers over his last three games, with a 6:3 assist-to-turnover ratio. Over his first six games, Jackson had four assists vs. five turnovers…Josh Heath matched his career high by getting to the foul line six times against VCU Tuesday night (he did it four times last season). Heath set a season-high by sinking five of his free throws — one off his best performance, when he went 6-for-6 Feb. 16 against Clemson. Heath also played a season-high 29 minutes, one off his Tech-best set last Jan. 14 against Notre Dame.

GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 15.2 ppg
GEORGIA SCORING LEADER: Yante Maten, 16.9 ppg

GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Charles Mitchell, 12.8 rpg
GEORGIA REBOUNDING LEADER: Yante Maten, 8.6 rpg

GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Josh Heath, 3.8 apg
GEORGIA ASSISTS LEADER: J.J. Frazier, 4.0 apg
GEORGIA TECH PPG: 80.6 ppg
OPPONENT PPG: 69.9 ppg
GEORGIA PPG: 70.0 ppg
OPPONENT PPG: 67.6 ppg
GEORGIA Player To Watch, Yante Maten:
While there are many fired-up native Georgians with something to prove — i.e., starting point Charles Mann — the Pontiac, Michigan, native may be the center of attention. The 6-8, 240-pound sophomore has been almost unstoppable, increasing his career high four times in the season’s first seven games and going for at least 20 points in all four games. He leads the Bulldogs with a pair of double-doubles, including a 24-point, 12-rebound effort in Georgia’s last game against Winthrop. He’s set career-highs for points (24), rebounds (13), blocks (6), steals (2) and minutes (40) in games this season, and is averaging 16.9 points and 8.6 rebounds in 31.3 minutes. That’s up from 5.0 ppg, 4.3 and 18.2 last season. Against Georgia Tech last season, Maten had two points on 1-for-3 shooting, with three rebounds, one assist and one block in 15 minutes.