Tech Faces First Ranked Team in No. 3 Duke

Jan. 13, 2009

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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech faces its first top-25 team this year when its hosts No. 3 (AP) Duke in a nationally-televised (ESPN) Atlantic Coast Conference game at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

Radio coverage of the game is provided by the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and available in Atlanta on flagship station WQXI-AM (790), Tech student station WREK-FM (91.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1). The Tech broadcast can be heard nationally on XM Radio Channel 191.

Single-game tickets, which are $30 apiece, are available for Wednesday night’s game at Gate 1, and are available for all remaining home games this season. Patrons can purchased tickets and select seats online at www.ramblinwreck.com/tickets.

Tech (9-6 overall, 0-2 ACC) has lost two of its last three games and has dropped its first two conference games, including a 68-61 defeat at Maryland Saturday. The Jackets also lost to Virginia at home, 88-84, on Dec. 28 and are 7-3 overall at home this year.

Duke (14-1 overall, 2-0 ACC) has won six in a row since an 81-73 loss at Michigan on Dec. 6. The Blue Devils, who are playing just their third game on an opponent’s home court, have defeated Virginia Tech and Florida State (66-58 on Saturday) in conference play.

Barring any late injuries or illnesses, Georgia Tech will, with the exception of D’Andre Bell (out for the season with a spinal condition), field a “full” roster Wednesday night for the first time this season. Sophomore point guard Moe Miller returned to the court Saturday at Maryland, and Zachery Peacock, who missed that game with a stomach ailment, also returns.

Tech head coach Paul Hewitt captured his 150th win in his ninth season with the Yellow Jackets on Dec. 30 against Tennessee State. Standing 19th all-time in victories among ACC coaches, Hewitt has a 151-118 in his ninth season at Tech, and is 217-145 in his 12th season as a head coach.

Georgia Tech was picked to finish eighth in the ACC by the media at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Operation Basketball media gathering. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 15-17 season (7-9, tie for seventh in the ACC) from which only six players with starting experience return, one of whom is not available to play due to injury.

Tech Continues Season Shorthanded

With the spinal injury to D’Andre Bell before the beginning of pre-season practice, Georgia Tech has played this entire season with just nine scholarship players. But even without considering Bell’s absence, the Yellow Jackets have played every game this season with less than the full roster that began the regular season.

Senior guard Lewis Clinch did not make his 2008-09 debut for the Yellow Jackets until Dec. 17 against Georgia State after being academically ineligible for fall semester and missing the first seven games. Sophomore point guard Moe Miller missed the next seven games due to a mild concussion and a nasal fracture suffered in Tech’s Dec. 14 loss to UIC.

With Miller cleared to play Saturday against Maryland, Zachery Peacock woke up ill with a stomach ailment and did not dress for the game (he was checked out at a local hospital and was fine by Sunday).

Miller had successful surgery to repair his fracture Wednesday, Dec. 17, returned to practice last Thursday, and is wearing a specially-fitted mask. The Memphis, Tenn., native was third in the ACC in assists this season (5.7 pg) while averaging 7.8 points at the time of his injury.

Clinch has averaged 14.1 points while hitting 25.9 of his three-point attempts. The Cordele, Ga., native also has averaged 3.0 assists, having to play several minutes a game at point guard in the absence of Miller.

Georgia Tech current starting lineup (Clinch, Shumpert, Peacock, Aminu, Lawal) has an aggregate 143 career starts. That’s fewer than 29 per player. Alade Aminu is Tech’s active leader in games played with 89, followed by Lewis Clinch with 77 and Zachery Peacock with 72.

Not even Tech’s walk-on group has been immune this season – Derek Craig missed time in the pre-season with two concussions, Sam Shew has missed practice time recently with a concussion, and Ty Anderson has not been able to practice or play since fall semester ended due to a viral infeciton and a back injury.

Series With Duke

> Duke has won 23 of the last 25 games in the series, including a 71-58 victory in Durham in the team’s only regular-season meeting and an 82-70 win in the ACC Tournament last season.

> The Yellow Jackets snapped a 10-game losing streak on their home floor in the teams’ last meeting at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, a 74-63 win on Jan. 10, 2007. The Blue Devils earned a split of the season series with a 71-62 win in Durham on Feb. 18. But Duke has a 20-12 lead over Tech in games played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and a 24-15 mark in games played in Atlanta.

> Duke leads the overall series 60-22, and is 47-18 against Tech since the Jackets joined the ACC.

> Tech’s best stretch of the series occurred between 1982 and 1989, with 10 wins in 17 meetings. Tech has never won more than two in a row.

> Tech is 18-46 against Duke teams coached by Mike Krzyzewski, 11-16 in games played in Atlanta. Paul Hewitt is 2-15 vs. Duke.

Quick Look at Tech

Head coach Paul Hewitt’s regular starting lineup for the last eight games has included senior Lewis Clinch and freshman Iman Shumpert at guard, with junior Zachery Peacock, senior Alade Aminu and sophomore Gani Lawal along the front line.

Moe Miller, Tech’s sophomore point guard, missed seven games due to a nasal fracture sustained in Tech’s game with UIC, and returned to the court last week, but his return to the starting lineup is undetermined.

Tech has been led this season by post players Lawal and Aminu, who rank 1-3 on the team in scoring (16.8 and 13.5 ppg, respectively) and 1-2 in rebounding (10.0 and 9.4 pg). The two players ranks 1-2 in the ACC in rebounding as well, and both rank in the ACC’s top five in field goal percentage, combining to make 56.2 percent of their shots from the floor.

Clinch has started the last eight games after missing the first seven games due to academic ineligibility. He has scored in double digits in seven of the eight, averaging 14.1 points a game, while also logging minutes at point guard (3.0 apg). Shumpert, the primary point guard in Miller’s absence, averages 11.1 points and is second in the ACC in assist average (6.2 pg).

With senior D’Andre Bell (spinal stenosis) out for the season, Clinch out for the first seven games and now Miller out, Peacock has been asked to utilize his outside shooting and defensive abilities at the small forward spot. He averages 10.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Sophomore Lance Storrs (4.9 ppg, 41.9 pct. from three-point range) and freshman walk-on Nick Foreman (2.1 ppg) have been key reserves in the backcourt, Storrs for his shooting ability and Foreman for his defense. Brad Sheehan, a 7-foot sophomore averaging 4.1 points and 2.6 rebounds, is averaging more than 12 minutes a game off the bench in the post, and Bassirou Dieng (1.4 ppg in eight games) provides additional depth and has played in each of the last three games.

Quoting Coach Hewitt

On the Maryland game – “We had a very difficult day on Saturday. I thought our guys tried really hard. Our effort level is very acceptable. We had too many turnovers and too many missed opportunities just like our first ACC game against Virginia and they have cost us two ballgames. But, the effort level is outstanding, and I think our players remain optimistic that we can clean up some of the things that have been ailing us, and we will have a very good season here in the ACC.

On Duke’s defense – “They have always been a very aggressive, overplaying defense. They switch a lot of ball screens, which kind of builds a fence around the lane, and they are going to force you to take some tough shots from outside. Overall, it’s still the same brand of overplaying, aggressive style.”

On Zachery Peacock and Moe Miller – “Miller is pretty much back. Zack Peacock woke up at 5 a.m. Saturday with severe stomach pains, tried to give it a go in warm-ups and couldn’t do it, and was actually taken to the hospital. He returned to Atlanta Sunday morning after being held most of the evening there for observation. He did spend the night in the hotel before he came back. It was an unfortunate break for us, but I don’t think it cost us the game, because we had plenty of opportunities and just turned the ball over too much. He is fine, and we expect he will be 100 percent for Wednesday night’s game.

“Other than having to adjust to the mask, I think Moe is okay. He had surgery because they thought he could have had a blockage that would have affected his breathing, but he seems to be doing fine.”

On Lewis Clinch’s shooting problems – “I really do not have an explanation for it, because he actually started out really well. He practiced great throughout the fall and certainly missed those games in the first semester, but he came back those first three games scoring the ball well, shooting well. He just seems to have hit a rut here. Looking on the bright side, on Saturday he shot 6 out of 17. It was not a great number, but he had several rattle in and out on him in the first half. It looked like they were down and came out. He was really frustrated, but at the same time he was like “coach, it’s right there; it’s going to start falling.” We believe in him, I believe in him, and when he is open I expect him to shoot the basketball.”

On Clinch being Tech’s best outside threat – “He is the most proven and most veteran, and I do have the confidence in him that he will work his way through this. Again, looking at the game on Saturday night, watching the tape, he did have a bunch that were kind of down and out on him. He is struggling right now, no question about it. I expect that he will come out Wednesday night and be aggressive as he normally is and take open shots, and when he’s not open, keep moving the basketball.”

On walk-on Nick Foreman’s contributions – “He has just played really well. He is an outstanding defender and a very intelligent player. He very rarely makes a mistake. The only shot he took was a wide open three against Maryland from the corner, and he made it. He really knows how to play within his capabilities, and his number one thing is that he is an outstanding defender and a great loose ball getter. He has played very well for us. It has been a very pleasant surprise to get a guy like that.”

“He and his family contacted us. He is here majoring in biomedical engineering, and he contacted us about the possibility of walking on. We got some tapes and talked to some people down there, and they said he would be somebody you would love to have around our program. We never ever thought that he would be a guy that could contribute on the level he has contributed, but he has earned it. I went into the season thinking he would not be a contributor, but obviously the injury to D’Andre Bell and the issues with Lewis early opened up the door for him, and he has earned it. I have confidence in him late in games – situations with his free throws, open shots, what have you. I just have a lot of confidence in him because he is a very intelligent, bright basketball player.”

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