Tech Hoops Hosts Tulane

Dec. 22, 2001

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech continues its five-game homestand on Sunday night at 8 p.m. when the Yellow Jackets play their third game in five days in a nationally televised matchup with Tulane.

Tech (6-5) follows Sunday’s game with home contests against IUPUI, Cornell and Clemson. The Yellow Jackets enter the game against the Green Wave on a three-game winning streak following victories over 13th-ranked Syracuse (96-80), Davidson (83-69) and Wofford (79-70). Tulane is 7-1 following a 77-64 homecourt victory over Lipscomb on Friday night.

The Yellow Jackets have been balanced offensively in the last five games, but are led primarily by the backcourt tandem of 5-11 Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.) and 6-4 Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.). Akins, Tech’s point guard who has averaged 17.5 points and 7.2 assists in the last six games, leads Tech in both categories with 16.4 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 41.8 percent from three-point range on the season. Lewis is Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures with 13.9 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He has hit 50.0 percent of his three-point attempts and is shooting 46.7 percent overall.

The rest of Tech’s starting five for Tulane is expected to be 6-5 Clarence Moore (So., Norco, La.) and 6-5 Halston Lane (So., Oak Ridge, Tenn.) at the forwards and 6-8 Robert Brooks (So., Saginaw, Mich.) at center. That lineup has started the last two games against Davidson and Wofford.

Moore, who notched a career-high 20 points against Syracuse and a double-double (13 pts, 10 rebs) against Davidson, averages 8.0 points and 5.5 rebounds and is shooting 46.3 percent from the floor. Lane, who has started the last two games and averaged 11 points and five rebounds, is 11-20 (55.0%) from three-point range in the last five games. Brooks, who averages 5.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, is averaging 11.8 points and 9.0 rebounds in the last four games.

B.J. Elder (Fr., Madison, Ga.), a 6-3 guard, is Tech’s top scorer off the bench at 8.7 points per game, third on the team. Other key reserves include 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), averaging 7.4 points and 3.4 rebounds, and 6-7 power forward Ed Nelson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). Nelson leads Tech in rebounding (7.1 per game) while scoring 5.5 points per game.

Tech Series vs. Tulane

Georgia Tech and Tulane have met on 65 occasions since 1909, and the Yellow Jackets lead the all-time series, 35-30. The two schools met every year from 1938 through 1978, with the exception of 1965, however they have not faced each other since 1990. The two schools played regularly as members of the now-defunct Metro Conference in the mid 1970’s.

The most recent meeting between the Yellow Jackets and the Green Wave came in the Sugar Bowl Tournament at the Louisiana Superdome on Dec. 27, 1990, when Tech claimed a 95-83 victory.

Tech leads Tulane, 20-11, in games played in Atlanta. The last meeting at Alexander Memorial Coliseum came on Feb. 11, 1978, a 63-58 Tulane win.

Offense Clicking Since Las Vegas

Georgia Tech has emerged from the offensive slump it experienced in the Las Vegas Invitational and against Wisconsin, averaging 83.4 points in the last five games. That includes 96 points against 13th-ranked Syracuse last Sunday, its highest scoring output since 97 in the season opener against Florida A&M.

The key to Tech’s success has been the ability to hit the three-point shot. Tech hit 17-34 (50.0%) from three-point range in the Yellow Jackets’ back-to-back victories over Syracuse and Davidson, although they managed just a 6-23 mark in the most recent game against Wofford.

Last Time Out

B.J. Elder scored 15 points to lead five Yellow Jackets in double figure scoring as Tech rallied for a 79-70 win over Wofford on Friday afternoon. Tech trailed by as many as 11 points in the second half before rallying midway through the second period tanks toa 16-1 run.

Also scoring in double figures were Marvin Lewis (14 points), Halston Lane (12 points), Robert Brooks (12 points, 9 rebounds), and Isma’il Muhammad (10 points). The Yellow Jackets struggled from long distance (26.1% on three-point attempts), but outrebounded the Terriers, 44-32, and hit 17 of 21 free throws to preserve their third consecutive victory.

Tech Holding Its Own On The Boards

Rebounding and size were pre-season concerns for head coach Paul Hewitt, but the Yellow Jackets have gotten off to a good start on the boards despite having no player taller than 6-8 for the last five games. Tech has outrebounded its opponents by an average of more than seven per game (42.9 to 35.4), and has beaten eight of 11 opponents on the boards.

Even with 6-11 Alvin Jones leading the ACC in rebounding a year ago, Tech struggled as a team, being outrebounded 40-to-37.5 for the season.

More impressive is the fact that Tech has averaged 16.8 offensive rebounds, which leads the ACC. Three Tech players – Clarence Moore (2.6), Ed Nelson (2.7) and Robert Brooks (2.6) rank among the ACC’s top 15 in offensive rebounds.

Shuffling the Lineup Facing a roster with five new scholarship players, head coach Paul Hewitt used his fourth different in the first 10 games last Wednesday night at Davidson while tinkering to find that right combination. The backcourt duo of Tony Akins and Marvin Lewis are the only players to have started all 11 games this season, while eight different players have started at least one game.

Sophomore swingman Halston Lane cracked the starting five for the first time in his career against Davidson, while freshman Ed Nelson came off the bench for the first time this season. Nelson has started nine games, Clarence Moore has started nine, Robert Brooks has started six, Luke Schenscher five, and Anthony McHenry and Lane have started two contests apiece.

Despite who starts the game, Hewitt is still using a nine-man rotation while Schenscher is out with a foot injury (see below). Counting Schenscher, 10 different Yellow Jackets are averaging at least 10 minutes a game.

Bench Providing a Spark for Tech Playing with a 10-man rotation (nine now with the absence of Schenscher) since the arrival of head coach Paul Hewitt, Georgia Tech has come to rely more heavily on its bench. They have provided the Jackets some real spark offensively through the early going this season.

Tech’s bench scored 46 of 77 points Dec. 1 at North Carolina, led by 17 points each from B.J. Elder and Halston Lane and 12 from Isma’il Muhammad. Previously, the high for the bench in 37 games under Hewitt was 40 against Florida A&M on Nov. 16.

This season, Tech has gotten 25.8 points per game from its bench, roughly 35 percent of its total scoring output of 76.4 points per game. Tech has had a double-figure scorer off the bench in five games this season.

Last year, Tech received 20.4 points per game from its reserves, 25 percent of its total scoring output.

Tech in the Thrillerdome

Georgia Tech is playing its 46th season at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center in 2001-02. The Jackets have a record of 449-152 (.747) in the facility, which opened Nov. 30, 1956 with a 71-61 Tech loss to Duke.

Since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, Tech is 211-51 (.805) in its on-campus home, including an 11-3 mark last season.

Georgia Tech is 120-6 against non-conference opposition at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the beginning of the 1981-82 season. The only non-conference teams to win at the Thrillerdome during that period are Penn (Nov. 19, 2001), Georgia (Dec. 6, 2000), Penn State (March 18, 1998), the College of Charleston (Jan. 16, 1993), Louisville (Jan. 15, 1989), and Richmond (Dec. 22, 1987).

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