#STINGDAILY: Starting Five: Chattanooga (5-8, 0-1 Southern Conference) at Georgia Tech (9-2, 0-0 ACC)

Jan. 1, 2013

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Georgia Tech kicks off 2013 tonight at McCamish Pavilion with a match-up against the Chattanooga Mocs of the Southern Conference. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets begin the new year riding a five-game winning streak after blowing out Fordham, 73-48, at McCamish Pavilion on Saturday night. Center Daniel Miller and forward Robert Carter, Jr., led the Jackets with 14 points, while Miller, who had a career-high in points, pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Tech, which never trailed by more than three, closed the half on a 13-5 run to open up a double-digit lead at intermission, then blew the game open with a 17-0 spurt early in a six-minute span of the second half.

The Mocs finished 2012 on a three-game winning streak and are coming off a hard-fought 76-69 victory over Utah Valley in the title game of the Dr Pepper Classic. The game was close throughout, as the Mocs never led by more than seven while Utah Valley’s biggest lead was four. Tournament MVP Z. Mason had a career-high 26 points and career-high-tying 13 rebounds in the victory. Guard Ronrico White added 11 points with three assists and a team-high three three-point field goals.

Tonight’s game will be the 18th meeting in the series that dates back to 1914. The Yellow Jackets hold a 15-2 edge in the series, have won 13 straight, and are unbeaten in eight meetings in Atlanta. Tonight’s game will be the first in McCamish Pavilion.

The game can be seen on line on ESPN3 with Nolan Alexander and Kurt Hoyt 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. Tech fans also can follow the game online on Ramblinwreck.com.

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

The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech was on a different kind of a five-game streak the last time they met Chattanooga. Tech had lost five straight before topping the Mocs, 62-53, on Feb. 16, 2011 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Glen Rice, Jr. had a game-high 27, and Iman Shumpert chipped in 19. The Jackets never trailed but got a second-half scare when UTC cut an 11-point first-half lead to four with 6:28 to play. But Shumpert scored the game’s next three points and the Jackets never led by less than seven the rest of the way.

Turn Back the Clock: Georgia Tech’s defense is bringing back memories of the pre-shot clock days, as ech of the Yellow Jackets’ last three opponents have scored fewer than 50 points — Alabama State and The Citadel each scored 41, while Fordham had 48. You have to go back to the 1959-60 season to find the last time Tech held three straight opponents under 50, doing it to Kentucky, Alabama and Auburn from Jan. 25 through Feb. 2.

Fat Profit Margin: It would be unfair to say the Yellow Jackets don’t know how to win a close game. That’s because they have yet to play one. Tech has won its nine games by 19.4 points, with the closest game being a seven-point victory over UNC Wilmington (73-66 on Dec. 8). Their closest loss also is by seven at No. 22 Illinois (72-65 on Nov. 28). Their other loss, to Cal, also was by nine. The Jackets have won three straight games by 25-or-more points, the first time 2006-07 that they’ve done that. That season, they beat Elon, 83-49 on Nov. 10, Jackson State, 100-70, Nov. 13, and Georgia State, 103-74 on Nov. 16. The schedule has been rather friendly lately, though, as the Jackets’ RPI rank, according to CBSSports.com stands at 115 and its strength of schedule is at No. 292. That’s down from #50 with a 60 strength of schedule after its first six games.

Coming On: It looks like Stacey Poole, Jr. is starting to shake off the rust and find the bottom of the net with his shots. In two games, he has 12 points on 3-for-11 shooting (27.3 percent). But those numbers are misleading, considering he hadn’t played for the better part of two years after transferring from Kentucky and wasn’t eligible to get on the floor for Tech until Dec. 22. Even more important, he missed his first six shots from the field as a Yellow Jacket. So he has made three of his last five attempts. He’s also been impressive in getting to the line, having taken 10 attempts in a little over 31 minutes of play, and he has been very consistent on the glass, pulling down five rebounds in each game — one offensive and four defensive.

Reserve Power: Junior forward Kammeon Holsey has given the Jackets a big shot in the arm off the bench. In 11 games, he’s scored in double-figures five times and had back-to-back double-digit games against Alabama State and The Citadel (the streak ended against Fordham). He’s hitting on a team-high 59.1 percent of his shots and is third on the team in rebounds 5.3 rpg, yet is playing only 19.4 minutes a game (tied for fifth). Holsey is leading the team with 39 free throw attempts and is shooting a solid 66.7 percent from the line. That’s third behind only Brandon Reed (78.6) and Marcus Georges-Hunt (69.7).

The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech’s defense at the three-point line is second in the ACC, as opponents are shooting 28.7 percent. That could improve tonight, as the Mocs are the poorest three-point shooting team in the Southern Conference, hitting at 26.2 percent (61-for-233)…The Yellow Jackets bring a total of four points from players who were in the last game with UTC. Holsey has two, Miller and Mfon Udofia have one point each. That’s still four more points than the Mocs bring in, as none of their current players were in the game…Tonight’s game is the second in 11 days against a Southern Conference team. The Jackets thumped The Citadel, 73-41, on Dec. 22nd. Tech is 92-18 all-time vs. the SoCon…Freshmen Robert Carter, Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt have led Tech in scoring in all five games of the current win streak…The Jackets are getting things done as a team, as no Yellow Jacket appears in the top 25 in the ACC in scoring or in the top 13 in rebounding.

GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 11.1 ppg
CHATTANOOGA LEADING SCORER: Z. Mason, 13.3 ppg

GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Robert Carter, Jr., 6.4 rpg
CHATTANOOGA LEADING REBOUNDER: Z. Mason, 7.7 rpg

GEORGIA TECH PPG: 65.9 ppg
OPP. PPG: 53.1 ppg.

CHATTANOOGA PPG: 67.4 ppg
OPP. PPG: 68.0 ppg.

CHATTANOOGA Player to Watch: Z. Mason: The 6-5, 238-pound redshirt junior forward brings the power from the four. The transfer from Ole Miss, where he actually played tight end on the football team for a year (he also redshirted a year), is trouble on both ends of the floor. Mason, whose given name is Zaccheus, is scoring almost eight points a game more than last season, is shooting almost 100 points higher than last season (.492 from .383) and is pulling down more than two rebounds a game. Over his last five games, he is averaging 17.0 points and 8.6 rebounds, and is coming off the monster game against Utah Valley.

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