Jan. 2, 2007
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech goes for its fifth consecutive win Wednesday night when it meets Winston-Salem State at 7 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. It is the last of five straight home games the Yellow Jackets play in preparation for the resumption of conference play. The Yellow Jackets visit Clemson on Saturday.
Wednesday’s game is not being televised, but can be heard on radio over the Georgia Tech-ISP Sports Network. In Atlanta, the broadcasts are available on WQXI-AM (790), WREK-FM (91.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1).
The Tech broadcast can also be heard nationally on XM Satellite Radio Ch. 192 (Saint Francis). Live video streaming can be seen on the Internet at http://gatech.playonsports.tv.
The Jackets bring an 10-3 overall record into Wednesday’s game, having won five of seven games since returning from a runner-up finish in the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. Tech has won four in a row over Centenary (92-52 on Dec. 18), Georgia (78-69 on Dec. 22), Troy (85-55 on Dec. 28) and Saint Francis of Pa. (87-43 on Saturday).
Tech is undefeated at home this season (8-0), and are 74-23 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum under head coach Paul Hewitt, including a 45-5 mark in non-conference games. Tech has won 32 of its last 33 non-ACC games at home.
A win for the Jackets Wednesday night will give them 11 for the season, matching their win total for all of 2005-06. It will also lift head coach Paul Hewitt into a tie for 22nd place (with Pete Gillen) on the all-time victory list for ACC coaches. Hewitt, with 117 wins, is currently 23rd on the list.
Winston-Salem State (1-16), an independent playing its first season of Division I basketball, earned its only win over a non-Division I team, a 67-44 win over Anderson (S.C.) on Nov. 14.
Red-shirt freshman Mouhammad Faye became the eighth Georgia Tech player, and fourth freshman, to start a game when he took the floor for the opening tip against Saint Francis. Faye, a 6-10 forward, replaced Lewis Clinch in the starting five and joins point guard Javaris Crittenton, wingman Thaddeus Young, strong forward Jeremis Smith and center Ra’Sean Dickey.
Faye’s biggest contributions come on defense, where his 7-foot-3 wingspan has caused havoc in Tech’s press and in halfcourt defensive situations, and also can handle, pass and shoot the ball. The Dakar, Senegal, native scored eight points with six rebounds against the Red Flash and averages 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game for the season.
Young, a 6-8 small forward, has assumed the team lead in scoring at 14.5 points per game (15th in the ACC) with four double-figure games in the last five. The Memphis, Tenn., native established a career high with 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against Georgia, his third double-double of the season. Young, who went 9-for-11 from the foul line to help seal the win over the Bulldogs, is shooting 48.9 percent from the floor and 40.5 percent from three-point range this season.
The insertion of Faye means Smith, a 6-8 junior from Fort Worth, Texas, is the only Tech player to start every game. Smith has improved offensively and is just as tough on the boards and on defense as he was a year ago, averaging 9.8 points and 5.9 rebounds. He leads Tech in field goal percentage (65.3 percent) and has seven double-digit scoring efforts.
Crittenton, a 6-5 point guard from Atlanta, has averaged 13.3 points (47 pct. FG) as well as 5.8 assists, second-best in the ACC. Crittenton has made 47.1 percent of his three-point tries during Tech’s winning streak, and has averaged 6.5 assists, including 18 assists and just one turnover in the last two games.
Put back in the starting lineup for the Centenary game, Dickey has posted three double-figure efforts in the last three games and has averaged 9.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in the last four games. The 6-10 junior from Clio, S.C., averages 8.1 points and 6.2 rebounds this season, hitting 57.4 percent of his shots from the floor while adding a team-high 17 blocked shots.
Hewitt has built plenty of depth between the returning players and the four freshmen who are playing, playing 11 players more than 10 minutes a game during the current winning streak.
Clinch, a 6-3 sophomore from Cordele, Ga., ranks 19th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring at 14.2 points a game, ranks seventh in the ACC in field goal percentage (53.7) and second in three-point percentage (48.4). Mario West, a 6-5 senior guard (4.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.1 apg, 54.3 pct. FG), has been the Jackets’ catalyst on defense and logged important backup minutes at point guard.
Also averaging double-digit minutes are Peacock, a 6-8 all-state performer from Miami who started the first nine games (7.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 56.5 pct. FG), 6-5 junior guard Anthony Morrow (6.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg), and 6-5 sophomore D’Andre Bell (0.6 ppg, 0.7 rpg), has moved back into Tech’s perimeter rotation in the last three games and provided a big lift on defense.
Peacock Out With Fractured Cheekbone
Freshman center Zach Peacock suffered a fractured right cheekbone late in Saturday night’s game with Saint Francis and will miss Wednesday’s game with Winston-Salem State, and perhaps longer.
After further examination Tuesday, no surgery was recommended for Peacock, and he will be fitted with a protective mask. He may return to practice before the end of the week. The 6-8 Miami, Fla., native suffered the fracture when he and teammate Paco Diaw both dove on the floor for a loose ball with 2:23 remaining, and Diaw’s knee struck Peacock’s cheekbone.
Peacock has played in all 13 Tech games this season, starting the first nine, and has averaged 7.0 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. He scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in 20 minutes in Saturday’s game with Saint Francis, which the Yellow Jackets (10-3) won 87-43.
Defensive Focus Returns
Georgia Tech’s defensive intensity and execution has picked up since the team’s back-to-back losses to Miami and Vanderbilt in early December. The Yellow Jackets have allowed an average of 54.8 points in the last four games, holding Georgia nearly 20 points below its average in a 78-69 win and Troy more than 20 points under its norm in an 85-55 win.
After allowing four straight opponents to shoot better than 50 percent from the floor (through Vanderbilt on Dec. 9), Tech has allowed the last four foes just 33.3 percent from the floor, and only 25.0 percent from three-point range.
Tech has forced 89 turnovers in the last four games (22.3 average), and taken 55 steals (13.8 average).
The starting guards of Tech’s last three opponents have shot 12-for-65 (18.5 percent) from the floor overall and 7-for-34 (20.6 percent) from three-point range. They have collected 21 assists to 41 turnovers combined.
While senior guard Mario West has been Tech’s defensive catalyst all along, Tech’s improvement on defense can, in part, be traced to the emergence of D’Andre Bell and Mouhammad Faye in the Yellow Jackets’ playing rotation. Bell, who started 11 games last year, has averaged 13.5 minutes in Tech’s last four games and Faye more than 16, and they have combined for 10 steals and five blocked shots and numerous deflections.