Starting Five: Tech Battles Northwestern in ACC-Big Ten Challenge Tuesday

Nov. 29, 2010

Georgia Tech (4-2, 0-0 ACC) @ Northwestern (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Tipoff: 7:00 p.m. ET
Television: ESPN2
Radio: Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, live on flagship station WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY-FM (106.7) – Wes Durham, play-by-play; Randy Waters, color.
Live Stats: www.Ramblinwreck.com; www.twitter/com/gtathletics; www.facebook.com/gtathletics

After a year off from the hostilities, Georgia Tech gets a chance to defend ACC honor in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, when it invades Welsh-Ryan Arena to battle Northwestern on Tuesday. Tech is 4-6 all-time in the challenge.

The Jackets are 4-2 and are coming off a solid showing in the Legends Challenge in Atlantic City, N.J., where they topped UTEP, 71-61, before losing the final, 80-76, to ninth-ranked Syracuse, despite a career-high 32 points from sophomore forward Brian Oliver. The loss to the Orangemen snapped the Jackets’ three-game winning streak.

The homestanding Wildcats are 4-0 for the first time in 17 years and knocked off Creighton, 65-62, in their last game.

And now, the starting five for tonight’s game.

Two For Tuesday?: A win by Georgia Tech tonight would turn around an unpleasant trend in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Tech has but one win in five games in Big Ten gyms. That win came at Ohio State in 2003, a 73-53 thrashing of the Buckeyes. Adding to the Jackets’ frustration is how close they’ve come, as their last three losses in the Challenge have been by a total of seven points — 83-79 at Indiana in 2007, 88-86 at Michigan State in 2005 and 64-63 at Minnesota in 2002. Tonight’s game is not only the first in Evanston, but the first ever against Northwestern. The Wildcats were the only Big 10 team Tech had never faced.

The Big 4-0: November has been good to Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Hewitt over the years. Under his tutelage, the Yellow Jackets have won 39 of the 52 games played. That’s a sweet .667 winning percentage.

Be Careful Out There: One reason for Tech’s successful start thus far has been taking care of the basketball. The Yellow Jackets are plus-6.2 in turnover margin and are giving the ball away 13.2 times a game. Last season they were minus-1.2 and coughed it up 16.4 times a game. Among the most careful are Iman Shumpert, who has as 2.5:1 assists-to-turnover ratio (25 assists, 10 turnovers) and has only had two multiple-turnover games (four on Nov. 15 at Kennesaw State and two on Saturday against Syracuse). Moe Miller is at 2:1 (16-8). The tenacious Jackets are creating 19.8 turnovers a game, up from 15.2 in ’09-10. Tech is looking to finish on the positive side of turnover margin for the first time in seven years.

Sweet Home, Chicago: It shouldn’t be surprising if Shumpert gets some love from the crowd of 8,117 fans at Welsh-Ryan Arena. He is an Illinois native, who grew up about 20 miles from Evanston, in Oak Hill. He’d like nothing better than to add on to what has already been a season of career-bests. Shumpert, has already set career highs for free throws made in a game (13), free throws attempted (14), and field goals in a game (10). His first assist Tuesday night will give him 300 for his career. He ranks 13th on the all-time assists list and is in hot pursuit of Jon Barry, who is 12th at 317.

It’s A Small(ball) World After All: Paul Hewitt’s message about hitting the boards with urgency appears to have gotten through, as the Yellow Jackets have held the rebounding edge in their last five games and are plus-3.8 in rebounds per game, pulling down 38.7 rebounds per game. Georgia Tech has dominated on the offensive glass, grabbing 15.7 offensive caroms per game, while opponents have managed 10.0. Freshman Kammeon Holsey leads the team with 15 offensive rebounds. Brian Oliver is next with 14. Oliver leads the team pulling down 6.7 boards per game.

The Sixth Man: Considering his pedigree, it shouldn’t be surprising that Glen Rice, Jr. is leading the Yellow Jackets in field goal percentage. He’s shooting a team-best .489 (23-for-47). What might be surprising is that he’s only made two of 15 three-point attempts, a .133 percentage. More Glen-Rice-like has been his .737 shooting from the foul line (second on the team to Iman Shumpert’s .838). Since being shut out against Albany on Nov. 17, the sophomore has come alive, averaging 12.0 points and 4.8 assist, including a 19-point, 12-rebound performance against UTEP on Friday in Atlantic City.

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