Starting Five: Virginia Tech (9-6, 0-2 ACC) at Georgia Tech (10-4, 0-2ACC)

Jan. 11, 2013

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Something has to give today, as Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech try to earn their first ACC win of 2013 in an afternoon foray at McCamish Pavilion. Tip-off is at 2:30 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets look to recapture their McCamish Pavilion magic after losing their ACC opener to Miami. Tech nearly evened its ACC record on Wednesday night, but dropped an 83-70 decision to No. 20 NC State in Raleigh. Daniel Miller had 15 points, 10 rebounds and a team-high three assists to lead the Jackets, who led for a large portion of the game but could not convert down the stretch. Tech led at the half, 38-37, and by four, 51-47, midway through the second half. But they went cold, shooting just 3-for-12 over the final seven-plus minutes, as the Wolfpack, the conference’s top scoring and shooting team, pulled even then pulled away. Mfon Udofia added 13 and Robert Carter, Jr. chipped in with 12 points and seven boards.

The Hokies also are looking to turn things around, having lost four straight and six of eight. They fell to 0-2 in ACC play their last time out, on Wednesday, they dropped their home opener, 86-75, to Boston College at Cassell Coliseum. Erick Green led the way with 24 points and came up one assist shy of a points-assists double-double, while Jarell Eddie added 21 points. The Hokies, who were playing without starting guard Robert Brown (fever), outshot the Eagles (51.8 percent to 48.3), and won the the boards (34-33), but lost the turnover battle (17-5) and saw B.C. turn those giveaways into 29 points. Tech led most of the half but a 25-7 run over eight minutes bridging the end of the first half and start of the second, proved decisive. The Hokies, who trailed by 12, pulled within three and shot for the tie, but Green’s three did not fall.

Tonight’s game will be the 18th meeting in the series. The Hokies hold a 13-4 edge and have won the last three meetings, eight of the last 10, and nine of 12 since joining the ACC in 2005. Va. Tech leads 4-2 all-time in Atlanta.

The game can be seen on WATL locally and on the ACC Network, with Tim Brant and Dan Bonner calling the action. It also can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM), with Wes Durham and Randy Waters calling the action and via Satellite Radio (Sirius Ch. 117, XM Ch. 197). Tech fans also can follow the game online on ESPN3 or Ramblinwreck.com.

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

The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech lost in heartbreaking fashion the last time these teams met, on Feb. 18, 2012 at Cassel Coliseum, falling in overtime, 73-71. The Jackets did just about everything right, shooting a season-best 58.3, 7-of-13 from three and even dominated rebounding, 32-18. They even looked like they had the game won, when Mfon Udofia hit a jumper with five seconds left in the extra session. Buty the Hokies had the last say. With 3.5 seconds to shoot, Jarell Eddie took the inbounds pass. He nearly lost control of the ball but got it to Dorenzo Hudson, who fired up, and made, a desperation, game-winning three. All five Yellow Jackets starters scored in double-figures, led by Kam Holsey’s 18.

Just Shoot, Baby: While Georgia Tech has had some shooting difficulties in its first two ACC games, converting just 35.2 percent and 25.0 from three, part of that can be attributed to playing two of the conference’s top three teams. What might help Tech today is that Virginia Tech ranks 10th in the ACC in field goal percentage defense. Regardless, the Jackets’ offensive production and ability to get off shots has improved greatly over last season. Tech has scored at least 70 points in six of its last seven games, something done seven times TOTAL last season. They’re also getting more opportunities, as they’ve taken at least 70 shots in two of their last five games, something they didn’t do at all last season. The Jackets are getting up 57.5 shots per game, almost five more than they did last season, when they managed 52.9.

Miller Time: Very quietly, Daniel Miller is taking his place as one of the best big men in the ACC. His double-double against NC State was the fourth of his career, and his 15 points in the game were a career-high. He’s currently fifth on the team in scoring (7.4 ppg), while shooting 48.8 percent, second only to Kam Holsey, and is second on the team in ASSISTS, with 28. Only Mfon Udofia, the team’s starting point guard, has more (45). Miller also has a near 2:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Of course, defense has always been his forte. He’s second on the team in rebounding (18th in the ACC), leads the ACC in blocked shots, with 2.4 per game and is in fourth place all-time in school history with 175 career blocked shots. He starts play today only 24 away from tying legendary Malcolm Mackey. One last taken-for-granted number. Miller has played in 76 games over his career and has never missed a game.

Chairmen of the Boards: A great way to measure effort is by offensive rebounding. That said, today’s game features two of the hardest working teams in the ACC, as Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are two of the top four teams on the offensive glass. Georgia Tech comes into the game ranked third, having grabbed 170 ORBs in its first 14 games (12.1 per game). Virginia Tech is right behind them in fourth, with 176 in 15 games (11.7 per game). Keep an eye on Miller for the Jackets, as he has 2.4 per game, tied for ninth in the ACC, while the Hokies’ Cadarian Raines pulls in 3.0, fifth in the conference. Of course, the rebounding battle in general will be big, as Tech is 15-6 under Brian Gregory when grabbing more rebounds than its opponent, 4-14 when it does not.

Foul Is Fair: Georgia Tech is not only playing superb defense — they are eighth in the nation in scoring defense and sixth in field goal percentage defense — they are are doing it without committing fouls. Their 15.8 per game rank No. 44 in the country. The Jackets have committed more fouls than their opponents only five times this season, have committed 15 or fewer fouls eight times, including five times in the last seven games. The 20 whistles vs. NC State were something of an aberration, as it was only the second time all year they fouled 20 times in a game and the first time in 10 games.

The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech’s 1.16 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 64th in the nation. Last season they were 300th!…Miller is seven points away from 500 for his career. He already passed the 400 rebounds mark on Dec. 17th, vs. Alabama State…Tech is 10-1 under Brian Gregory when shooting at least 50 percent from the floor…Kam Holsey is three rebounds shy of 300 for his career…Georgia Tech’s 2-4 home record in the series looks a little better when you consider Virginia Tech won the first three meetings in the series played in Atlanta…Including the NC State loss, the winning percentage of teams that have beaten the Jackets this season is 76.7 (46-14).

GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 10.9 ppg
VIRGINIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Erick Green, 24.6 ppg
Mfon Udofia, 11.5 ppg
VIRGINIA TECH LEADING SCORER (ACC): Erick Green, 26.0 ppg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Robert Carter, Jr., 6.6 rpg
VIRGINIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Jarell Eddie, Cadarian Raines, 6.5 rpg

GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Daniel Miller, 8.5 rpg
VIRGINIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Cadarian Raines, 8.0 rpg
GEORGIA TECH PPG: 65.6/59.5 pp.
OPP. PPG: 56.2/72.5 ppg.

VIRGINIA TECH PPG: 76.5/73.0 ppg.
OPP. PPG: 75.3/90.0 ppg.

VIRGINIA TECH Player to Watch: Erick Green: The ACC’s leading scorer in overall and conference play, the 6-4 senior point guard has been unstoppable all season long. A preseason Bob Cousy Award Watch List finalist and one of the John Wooden Award Midseason Top 25, Green is one of three active ACC players with 1,300 career points, and has hit for at least 20 points in 14 of the team’s 15 games this season and 12 straight to start the season, tying the school record. He does more than shoot, as he’s also fourth in the conference in assists (4.7 apg) and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (plus-1.9). Green is a career 80.9 percent free throw shooter, who is second in the conference this year (to Eddie), at 84.7. He went 16-for-16 on Nov. 19 vs. UNC Greensboro.

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