Tech Finishes Regular Season at Boston College

March 7, 2008

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech plays its final regular-season game Saturday afternoon in a regionally-televised contest against Boston College at the Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass. This is Tech’s second visit to Boston College since the Eagles joined the ACC, and the only time the teams play during the regular season.

ABC is televising Saturday’s game, which can be seen in the Atlanta area on WSB-TV (Ch. 2). 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), and nationally on XM Satellite Radio Channel 190.

Tech, 13-16 overall this season, enter the final weekend of the regular season tied at 6-9 in ACC play with Wake Forest and Florida State. The Yellow Jackets will be either the No. 7, 8 or 9 seed in next week’s ACC Tournament in Charlotte, N.C., depending on how the three teams fare Saturday. A three-way tie also exists with the bottom three teams – Virginia, NC state amd Boston College, all at 4-11.

If the three-way tie holds between Tech, Wake and FSU, the Yellow Jackets would win a tiebreaker over the other two by virtue of their 2-1 head-to-head record against them (Wake is 2-2, FSU 1-2 in that pool). If Tech and Wake finish in a two-way tie, the Jackets win that tiebreaker; the Seminoles would win out over Tech in the event of a two-way tie between those teams.

In the first round of the ACC Tournament next Thursday, Tech will play either at 12 noon (8-seed vs. 9-seed) or at 7 p.m. (7 vs. 10).

Boston College (13-15 overall, 4-11 ACC) has lost five straight games and 11 of 12 entering Saturday’s contest. The Eagles’ lone win since Jan. 15 was an 82-65 homecourt victory over NC State on Feb. 14.

Tech has played a strong schedule, posting a schedule strength rank of No. 5 according to this week’s RPI rankings. The teams Tech lost to have a combined record of 313-127 (non-conference teams are 140-57), including losses to six top-25 teams who have a combined mark of 173-34. Tech is 6-12 vs. teams in the top 100 of the RPI.

Senior Impact

Three Georgia Tech players and two managers will be particpated in the final home game of their careers Thursday night. They have helped the Yellow Jackets to 64 wins and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances over the past three-plus seasons.

Matt Causey, a transfer from North Georgia College who sat out last season, has made an important impact on this year’s Yellow Jacket team with his all-out hustle and aggressive play. The Gainesville, Ga., native is Tech’s third-leading scorer in ACC games (10.3 ppg) and has ranked in the ACC’s top 10 in assists and assist-turnover ratio all season.

Anthony Morrow, who will play his final ACC Tournament in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C., next week, has developed into more than just the catch-and-shoot player he was as a freshman. He has climbed to 21st on Georgia Tech’s all-time scoring chart and No. 4 in three-point field goals made, and is on the verge of setting a Tech record for career free throw percentage.

Jeremis Smith, a heralded prep star from Fort Worth, Texas, found his niche on the Tech team by becoming a tenacious defender and rebounder. He has led the Jackets in rebounds three straight years and is Tech’s second-leading scorer this season while climbing to No. 14 in career rebounds and No. 12 in career steals for the Jackets.

“I told Jeremis [Smith] how much I appreciated what he has done for this basketball team, because I know how hard it is for seniors to go through what we have gone through this season and all of the close games that we have had,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. No matter how tough I am on them or if I am patting them on the back, they come out and play hard. They want to leave here and make sure they show people what they can do. (ESPN’s) Jimmy Dykes told me before they went on the air that we are probably the team that nobody wants to play in the tournament, because we do give a good effort and we have some pretty good pieces. We’ve been hanging around all year. Now hopefully we can hang around on Saturday and make another good attempt at a win.”

Series vs. Boston College

> Georgia Tech won the only regular-season meeting between the two teams last year, 74-60 in Atlanta, giving the Yellow Jackets a 6-2 all-time lead in the series, and a 2-1 mark since the Eagles became members of the ACC.

> The teams split two meetings in 2005-06, each team winning at home. Tech won the first meeting on Jan. 8, 60-58. Jeremis Smith led the way for Tech with 16 points, while Anthony Morrow scored 15. Craig Smith paced the Eagles with 26 points. The Eagles avenged the defeat by outlasting Tech, 66-64, on Jan. 29 in Chestnut Hill. Craig Smith again paced BC with 25 points, while Ra’Sean Dickey led Tech with 18.

> The three meetings in Boston have been played at different venues. The Jan. 29, 2005 game is Tech’s only previous visit to the Conte Forum, BC’s current home court. The first game in the series on Dec. 31, 1946, was played at Boston Arena, and the teams also played in the Boston Garden on Jan. 19, 1980.

> Prior to the 2005-06 season, the teams met four times on neutral floors, including one outside the United States, a 65-62 overtime win for the Yellow Jackets in the 1986 Suntory Ball in Tokyo, Japan.

> The teams have met twice in NCAA Tournament competition, both of them won by Tech. The Yellow Jackets downed the Eagles, 103-89, in the 1996 Southeast Regional second round in Orlando, and eliminated the Eagles two seasons ago, 57-54 in the second round in Milwaukee.

Quick Look at Tech

Georgia Tech’s starting lineup for 14 of the last 15 games (beginning Jan. 12 at Miami) has included freshman Moe Miller at point guard and junior D’Andre Bell at one wing. Seniors Anthony Morrow (wing) and Jeremis Smith (big forward) have started all 29 games for the Yellow Jackets, while freshman Gani Lawal has started the last 22 games at center.

Miller replaced Matt Causey in the lineup on Jan. 12 and has started every game since except for Senior Night on Thursday. Both players see significant minutes at the point, combining to average 18.4 points and 7.1 assists in ACC games.

Despite playing less than 20 minutes a game, the 6-0 Causey ranks eighth in the ACC in assists and ninth in assist-turnover ratio. Tech’s top scorer for six of the last 15 games, Causey has averaged 10.5 points and 3.8 assists since Jan. 12. Miller, a 6-1 rookie from Memphis, Tenn., has averaged 10.1 points over his last 11 games, including 29 points and five assists Feb. 23 at Virginia Tech.

Morrow, a 6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C., who is the Yellow Jackets’ top returning scorer from 2006-07, currently ranks 14th in the ACC with 14.4 points a game, 13.8 vs. the ACC. One of Tech’s best all-time three-point shooters with 248 for his career, Morrow has hit 43.3 percent from that distance this season.

Bell, a 6-5 junior, provides good physical defense on the perimeter and can score when needed (three double-figure games in ACC play). He averages 6.5 points for the season, 7.7 vs. the ACC, and has shot 46.8 percent from the floor. Bell started four games at point guard in Miller’s absence early in the year and moved primarily to the wing as Miller and Causey developed into a solid tandem.

Smith, the team captain and a 6-8 forward from Fort Worth, Texas, is Tech’s second-leading scorer at 10.0 points per game and its leading rebounder at 7.0 per game (10th in the ACC). Smith has averaged 10.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in ACC games, and has reached double figures in points in six of the last eight games.

Lawal, a 6-8 rookie from Riverdale, Ga., averages 7.3 points and 3.7 rebounds while leading the Jackets in field goal percentage at 58.2.

Backcourt reserves — Clinch, a 6-3 guard from Cordele, Ga., has reached double-digits in scoring in 14 games this year, and is Tech’s fourth-leading scorer with 9.2 points per game, but has struggled in ACC games (5.7 ppg, 34 pct. FG). Six-foot-4 freshman Lance Storrs of Decatur, Ga., averaging 1.1 points per game, has seen more significant playing time off the bench since late January as an additional perimeter defender.

Frontcourt reserves — Hewitt can go to 6-8 sophomore Zack Peacock of Miami, Fla., and 6-10 junior Alade Aminu of Stone Mountain, Ga. Peacock is Tech’s third-leading scorer (9.3) and rebounder (4.1) and has averaged 17.5 points in Tech’s last two games. Aminu, who started Tech’s first seven games of the season, has averaged 6.1 points and 4.2 rebounds while hitting 53.6 percent of his shots from the floor. Tech also has 6-11 red-shirt freshman Brad Sheehan of Latham, N.Y., who has played sparingly in ACC games.

Jackets Finish Home Slate on High Note

Georgia Tech exorcised a couple of demons Thursday night by rallying from a 13-point deficit to defeat 24th-ranked Clemson, 80-75, at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Yellow Jackets, who have been unable to hold late leads at home on several occasions this season, held off the Tigers by hitting 16-of-21 free throws in the second half, including 6-of-6 in the final 1:21, to complete its home slate at 6-7.

Tech also secured its first victory of the season over a top-25 team despite being outrebounded, 38-26, and giving up 16 offensive rebounds for 16 second-chance points.

The Jackets shot 52 percent in the game, were 23-of-32 from the free throw line overall, and grabbed a season-high 15 steals while turning the ball over just four times in the second half. Five Tech players reached double figures, led by Anthony Morrow’s 16 points.

Scoring Comes and Goes

Following a rough five-game stretch in which the Georgia Tech averaged just 68 points a game (all losses), the Yellow Jackets have rallied to average 80.3 points in the last three, winning two of those games.

Tech has not shot the ball particularly well (45.4 pct. overall, 31.1 pct. from three-point range), but the Jackets have scored 69 points on free throws (in 99 attempts) and have assisted in 51 of 79 field goals (64.6 pct.). The Jackets also have averaged 94.7 offensive possessions (using a formula of FG attempts plus FT attempts plus turnovers minus offensive rebounds), and have a plus-1.7 per game turnover margin.

During its five-game losing streak, Tech made 41.9 percent of its field goal tries and 29.2 percent of its threes. The Jackets also had a minus-3.6 turnover margin during this streak and averaged just 79.6 offensive possessions.

Over the six games before Tech’s losing streak (Jan. 16 through Feb. 6), Tech averaged 84.5 points per game, shot 50 percent from the floor overall and 38.9 percent from three-point range. The Jackets averaged 88.5 offensive possessions and had a plus-3.8 turnover margin.

Tech remains among the ACC leaders in scoring average (fourth at 77.0) and field goal percentage (third at 46.6 pct.) for the season, and rank fourth (76.8) and third (46.5 pct.) in ACC games only.

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