Tech Begins ACC Slate with Florida State

Dec. 29, 2007

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech plays its fourth consecutive home game Sunday and opens its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule by hosting Florida State in a nationally-televised game (Fox Sports Net) at 5:30 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

Radio coverage of the game is provided on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790), WREK-FM (91.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1). The game is sold out save for a limited number of “single” tickets which will go on sale at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday night at the gates of the Coliseum. These tickets may be purchased with cash only.

Tech is 6-5 for the season after consecutive wins over Centenary and Tennessee Tech. Three of the the Yellow Jackets’ five losses have come to teams in the current top 25 (No. 3 Kansas, No. 15 Vanderbilt and No. 13 Indiana). Tech’s wins include Charlotte and Notre Dame in the Paradise Jam

Sunday’s game also is the ACC opener for Florida State (10-4), which has not played since a 101-95 loss to Providence on Dec. 22.

A win over the Seminoles Sunday would be the 200th career victory for Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt, who has a 199-127 record in his 11th season as a head coach.

The FSU game marks the third straight year Tech had played a conference game prior to Jan. 1 and the fourth time overall under Hewitt. Tech is 1-3 in December ACC games under Hewitt.

Series Information – Tech vs. Florida State

> Florida State leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech, 29-27, but Tech has won eight of the last 11 meetings and 17 of the last 26, including a season sweep of the Seminoles in 2006-07.

> Since FSU joined the ACC, Tech is 17-15 against the Seminoles. Florida State won the first six in a row, Tech followed by winning five straight, and is 12-9 against the Seminoles since then.

> In those 32 games, 14 have been decided by four points or less, 22 by 10 points or less. One of those games went to double-overtime, which the Yellow Jackets won 111-108 on Feb. 11, 1999 in Tallahassee.

> The teams have split the regular-season series six of the last 10 years except the 2001-02, 2004-05 and 2006-07 seasons, when Tech won both games. In that span, FSU also won the schools’ only ACC Tournament meeting in 2000.

> Tech is 9-4 against FSU with Paul Hewitt as its head coach, and is 6-3 against Seminoles teams led by head coach Leonard Hamilton. Tech is 7-3 against Hamilton overall, with a victory over his Miami team in December of 1997.

> The Yellow Jackets have won the last seven homecourt meetings with FSU, whose last win in Atlanta occurred on Jan. 9, 1999 (75-56). Overall, Tech is 17-11 against the Seminoles in Atlanta, all of those games at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

> Tech and Florida State were both members of the old Metro Conference from 1976-78, and the Seminoles won three of those four meetings.

Quick Look at Tech

Head coach Paul Hewitt’s starting lineup for the last four games has include senior Matt Causey at point guard, senior Anthony Morrow and junior Lewis Clinch on the wings, senior Jeremis Smith at strong forward and freshman Gani Lawal at center.

Tech has used three different starting point guards this season, beginning with freshman Moe Miller in the first two games, then Causey for one game and D’Andre Bell for four after Miller was injured in a practice just before the Paradise Jam. Causey returned to the starting lineup for Tech’s Dec. 5 at Georgia State and has started each game since.

Morrow, Clinch and Smith have started all 11 games.

Causey, a 6-0 senior from Gainesville, Ga., has averaged 7.3 points and 4.3 assists in his four starts. He ranks seventh in the ACC in assist average (4.09) and fifth assist-turnover ratio (2.14-1) while averaging 5.9 points for the season.

Clinch, a 6-3 guard from Cordele, Ga., has reached double-digits in scoring in 10 straight games, including an average of 16.8 in his last six and a season-high 22 against both GSU and Kansas. He is Tech’s second-leading scorer at 14.2 points per game (12th in the ACC), and has hit 40 percent of his three-point attempts.

Morrow, a 6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C., who is the Yellow Jackets’ top returning scorer from 2006-07, currently ranks 10th in the ACC with 14.6 points a game. One of Tech’s best all-time three-point shooters with 201 for his career, Morrow has hit 41.4 percent of his three-point attempts this season.

Smith, the team captain and a 6-8 forward from Fort Worth, Texas, made the all-tournament team at the Paradise Jam. Tech’s third-leading scorer at 9.6 points per game and its leading rebounder at 6.6 per game, Smith has four double-figure rebound games this season, including a pair of double-doubles.

Lawal, a 6-8 rookie from Riverdale, Ga., has started the last four games, averaging 8.0 points and 4.0 rebounds while hitting 13-of-16 shots from the floor in those games. He has averaged 7.2 points and 3.5 rebounds this year while hitting a team-high 65.3 percent of his shots from the floor.

Backcourt reserves — Moe Miller, a 6-1 native of Memphis, Tenn., has not turned the ball over in the last two games, and averages 5.1 points and 3.1 assists for the season. Bell, a 6-5 native of Los Angeles, averages 5.0 points for the season with 22 assists and gives Tech solid perimeter defense. Six-foot-4 freshman Lance Storrs of Decatur, Ga., averaging 2.3 points per game, also had his best game of the season against Centenary (8 pts.).

Frontcourt reserves — Hewitt can go to 6-10 junior Alade Aminu of Stone Mountain, Ga., 6-8 sophomore Zack Peacock of Miami, Fla., and 6-11 red-shirt freshman Brad Sheehan of Latham, N.Y. Aminu is Tech’s fourth-leading scorer (9.1 ppg) and third-leading rebounder (4.9 rpg), and Peacock is averaging 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds. Sheehan has seen limited action, but played 21 minutes in a reserve role at Vanderbilt.

Last Time Out — Georgia Tech 83, Tennessee Tech 63

Taking a 40-19 lead and leading by as many as 28 points in the second half, Georgia Tech cruised to its second straight win with a 83-63 decision over Tennessee Tech on Dec. 27. The Yellow Jackets shot 45.3 percent for the game and placed four players in double figures in scoring, led by Jeremis Smith’s 16. Gani Lawal, making his fourth start, scored 13 points in just 15 minutes, while Lewis Clinch added 11 and Zack Peacock 10 (in 13 minutes).

The Jackets held the Golden Eagles to 27.3 percent shooting from the floor in the first half.

Tech made just 2-of-16 three-point attempts, but balanced that with a season-high 15 steals, 23-of-27 shooting from the foul line, 17 second-chance points and 46 points in the paint.

Post-Exam Pickup

As typically happens following fall semester finals, Georgia Tech has picked up its play since exam week ended. Even in the 71-66 loss to Kansas on Dec. 18, the Yellow Jackets exhibited signs of progress.

Tech has allowed just 58.3 points per game in the last three games (Kansas, Centenary and Tennessee Tech), limiting those three teams to 40.3 percent shooting from the floor and 29.4 percent from three-point range. The Jackets also have outrebounded those three teams by 7.7 per game and forced an average of 22.7 turnovers (plus-6.3 turnover margin).

Also, Tech has averaged 12.3 steals (compared to less than 8 per game for the season) and recorded 12 of its 28 blocked shots in the last three games.

On the offensive side, Tech has averaged 78.3 points, nearly matching its season average, shot 46.1 percent from the floor and 79.0 percent from the free throw line.

Win or Lose, Last Five Minutes Kind to Tech

Georgia Tech, statistically at least, has had the upper hand over its opponents in the final five minutes of the first 11 games, outscoring them 14.0 to 10.3 points a game over the period. Tech also has shot 49.5 percent from the floor to 42.6 percent for its opponents in the final five minutes, and has hit 40.5 percent of its threes to 26.1 percent for the opponents.

The same pattern exists in other categories, including rebounds (5.5 to 3.9), free throw percentage (74.6 to 65.5 percent) and assist-turnover ratio (22/17 for Tech, 13/28 for its opponents).

Interestingly, Tech’s advantage holds even in the five games lost (16.2 to 11.6 points per game, 44.1 to 41.7 percent on field goals, 29.6 to 25.0 percent on threes, 72.4 to 66.7 percent on free throws, 7.4 to 4.0 rebounds per game, 9/6 to 3/12 on assist-turnover ratio.

Quoting Coach Hewitt

On Tech playing with more confidence — “I think the double sessions are helping us. We practice defense in the morning and go hard for a couple hours. And come back in the afternoon and spend an hour running through our stuff. The guys are getting more confident with knowing where to go and what to do with the offensive sets. We have to cut down on some of those live ball turnovers in the half court. We had five in the first half. If you look at our press offense, that is what we work on in the second session (Friday).”

Tech Carries on Offensively

Head coach Paul Hewitt has said repeatedly this season that his Yellow Jackets can score, but the team’s success will depend on defense and rebounding the basketball. Against Kansas, Tech failed to score 70 points for the first time all season, but its 66 points were almost eight points higher then Kansas’ season yield. Tech followed that with a pair of 80-plus games against Centenary and Tennessee Tech.

> Tech is averaging 78.5 points per game (5th in the ACC), is hitting 47.2 percent of its shots from the floor (3rd in the ACC) and 36.7 percent of its three-point attempts (8th in the ACC). Last season, the Jackets’ season scoring average of 78.6 points per game (3rd in the ACC) and its field goal percentage of 49.0 percent (also No. 3) were the best figures the Jackets have achieved in seven seasons under head coach Paul Hewitt.

> Tech has shot 45 percent or higher from the floor in eight of 11 games.

> Without Zack Peacock for the first five games of the season, Tech has not been as dominant on the boards as it was last year, but the Yellow Jackets still hold a rebounding edge of 3.2 per game this year. Tech has outrebounded or matched nine of 11 opponents.

Quick Personnel Notes

> After scoring just 21 points and 13 rebounds in five games, Alade Aminu came through with nine points and seven rebounds in just 12 minutes against Tennessee Tech.

> Walk-on players Ty Anderson and Gary Cage finally saw their first action of the season Dec. 22 against Centenary. Tech had not won or lost a game by more than 14 points in the first nine games of the season.

> D’Andre Bell went 7-for-9 from the floor in the Virgin Islands, and has shot 47.4 percent for the season.

> After hitting just 3-of-14 shots in his first three games, Matt Causey has gone 20-for-36 (11-for-21 on threes) in his last eight games.

> Tech’s point guards Matt Causey and Moe Miller have combined for 24 assists and 10 turnovers in the last three games.

> Barring injury, Causey will play in his 100th career game at Georgia on Jan. 9.

> Lewis Clinch has hit double figures in 10 straight games and has averaged 16.8 points in his last six games.

> Clinch’s 22 points against Kansas equalled his career high first set against Clemson his freshman year, matched at Miami last year and against Georgia State this year.

> Clinch surpassed the 500-point plateau for his career against Kansas, and now has 545.

> Tech’s win over Centenary left head coach Paul Hewitt (199-127 career record) one win shy of 200 for his career, and left Tech five wins shy of 1,200 all-time.

> Hewitt stands 19th for career victories by an ACC coach with 133.

> Gani Lawal is shooting a team-high 65.3 percent from the floor, including 23-of-31 in his last six games.

> Lawal has a team-high nine blocked shots this season, five of them in the last two games (Centenary and Tennessee Tech), and three against Indiana.

> Moe Miller has nine assists and no turnovers while hitting 7-of-11 field goals in his last two games.

> Anthony Morrow made the 200th three-point field goal of his career against Centenary (now has 201). A comparable year to his last two, when he averaged 70 three-pointers, would vault him into fourth place, ahead of B.J. Elder, Marvin Lewis and Matt Harpring.

> Morrow became the 37th Tech player to score 1,000 career points on Nov. 16 against Charlotte. He now stands in a tie for 32nd place all-time with 1,105 points and needs 32 to move into 31st place.

> Morrow has made at least one three-point basket in 20 straight games dating back to last season, but he has made only six total in Tech’s last five games.

> Morrow has played the second-most minutes (313) for Tech this season, and committed the fewest turnovers (9).

> Morrow is hitting 93.1 percent of his free throws (27-of-29), which would lead the ACC if he had enough free throws made to qualify. A player must have made 2.5 FT per game to make the list.

> Morrow played in his 100th career game Dec. 18 vs. Kansas.

> Jeremis Smith has four double-figure rebound games this season, twice as many as he had all of last year when he led the team with 5.9 boards per game. He currently paces Tech with 6.6 rebounds per game, and ranks 12th in the ACC.

> Smith has 16 double-figure rebound games in his career, and has led the team in rebounds 37 times.

> Smith, a strong forward, has 31 assists, second on the team behind Matt Causey, and the team’s best assist-turnover ratio (just 13 turnovers). Smith and Causey rank 3rd and 5th, respectively, in the ACC in assist-turnover ratio.

> Smith surpassed 500 rebounds for his career against Charlotte, and now has 554. He ranks fourth in that category among the ACC’s active players.

Tech Stock Tips

> Tech has practiced twice a day since the Kansas game (except for Christmas break), conducting a hard, physical practice early in the day, then a lighter practice devoted to walking through plays later in the day. Head coach Paul Hewitt also gave the team a written exam on offensive sets.

> Tech has shot fewer free throws in all but three games this season, but the Yellow Jackets are shooting 72.0 percent from the foul line, far better than they typically do early in the season. In the last five games, Tech has made 79.4 percent from the stripe as a team.

> Only three times had Tech allowed fewer points in a game under Paul Hewitt than the 41 it srrendered to Centenary on Dec. 22. Only twice had Tech beaten a team by more than the 45-point margin under Hewitt.

> Its 11-for-27 performance from three-point range against Centenary notwithstanding, Tech has shot threes at only a 30.9-percent pace in the last five games. Tech had made 41.9 percent of its threes in the first six games.

> Tech’s bench players have logged 37.1 percent of available minutes, compared to 30.2 percent for its opponents. Tech’s reserves have shot 44.0 percent from the floor and averaged 23.5 points a game.

> In its Final Four season of 2004 and the 2004-05 season that followed, Georgia Tech was 24-16 away from Alexander Memorial Coliseum and 11-11 on opponents’ home floors. In the two-plus seasons since, Tech is 9-26 away from home and 3-20 on opponents’ home floors. Tech is 2-2 on opponents’ home floors this season.

> Tech’s seniors and juniors have made 48 of a possible 55 starts this season. Seniors Morrow, Smith and Causey have started 27 between them, while juniors Aminu, Bell and Clinch have 21 starts combined.

> Tech is 79-26 in the last four-plus seasons when it has held its opponent under 80 points. Giving up 80 points in a game has resulted in a loss for Tech almost every time in that stretch — Tech is 5-29 in such games. The Jackets are 11-48 in the Paul Hewitt era when they give up 80 points.

> When Tech has allowed less than 70 points, it is 100-16. Tech was 24-0 during its Final Four season in 2003-04 when holding opponents under 70, and 14-1 in 2006-07.

> Tech is 49-9 under Paul Hewitt in games that it has shot 50 percent or better.

> Under Hewitt, Tech is 120-27 when outshooting its foe from the floor and 11-72 when it does not.

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