Dec. 25, 2010
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech begins its post-Christmas schedule Monday with a 12 noon game against Fordham at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, tipping off a three-game homestand in which the Yellow Jackets also will host Mercer (1 p.m. Dec. 31) and Charlotte (6 p.m. Jan. 2).
These three games are the last out-of-conference contests for the Jackets before they begin play in the Atlantic Coast Conference Jan, 8 at Boston College.
Tech (6-5) has won two of its last three games, but dropped a 62-57 decision at Siena in its last game before Christmas. The Yellow Jackets, who have victories over UTEP and Richmond this year away from home and a near-miss loss to No. 9 Syracuse, are 4-1 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum this season, the only belmish being a 1-point loss to Georgia on Dec. 7.
Head coach Paul Hewitt’s team returns two starters and eight letterwinners from a team that won three games in last year’s ACC Tournament to reach the championship game, then won their first-round game in the NCAA Tournament. Tech has been picked to finish ninth in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Fordham (6-4) comes to Atlanta on a four-game winning streak that includes an 84-81 win over St. John’s and an 80-63 win over Kennesaw State, both at home, in its last two games. The Rams are 1-1 away from their homecourt, losing at Harvard (80-57) and winning at Lehigh (74-67) in early December.
The Yellow Jackets have played the majority of their 2010-11 schedule to date away from Alexander Memorial Coliseum. But Tech’s final four non-conference games, including a Feb. 16 game with Chattanooga, all are at home.
Hewitt is in his 11th season at Tech, the third-longest tenure of any ACC head coach behind Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (30th season) and Maryland’s Gary Williams (22nd season), and has a record of 183-149.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-5, 0-0 ACC) vs. Fordham Rams (6-4, 0-0 Atlantic 10) Date: Monday, December 27, 2010
Tipoff: 12 noon Eastern time
Site: Alexander Memorial Coliseum (capacity 9,191), Atlanta, Ga.
Radio: Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, live on flagship station WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY-FM (106.7) – Randy Waters, play-by-play; Jon Babul, color.
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 212, XM Ch. 190
On the web: www.Ramblinwreck.com; www.twitter/com/gtathletics; www.facebook.com/gtathletics
Tech Record Breakdown: 4-1 at home, 0-3 on the road, 2-1 neutral
Series History: Tech leads 2-0
At Alexander Memorial Coliseum: Georgia Tech is 550-189 in its 54th and final season in the building.
Series History – Tech vs. Fordham
Georgia Tech has won both previous meetings with Fordham, including an 83-78 decision over the Rams at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 15, 1990. Fordham came to Atlanta the next season, and the Yellow Jackets captured a 92-72 victory at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Tech was ranked in the nation’s top 25 for both of those games.
The Rams are the second Atlantic 10 Conference foe Tech has faced this season. The Yellow Jackets defeated Richmond, 67-54, on Dec. 18 in the Bahamas and are scheduled to play a third member, Charlotte, on Jan. 2. Tech is 18-14 all-time against the current members of the A-10.
Jackets Make Major Strides With Free Throws and Ballhandling
Two of Georgia Tech’s biggest issues of the recent past – turnovers and free throw percentage – have improved dramatically this season.
Tech has averaged 13 turnovers per game this season, which is down 3.4 per game from a year ago. That figure ranks 70th in the nation this week, which doesn’t sound so impressive until you compare it with the last two years (314th in 2008-09 and 318th in 2009-10).
Tech’s turnover margin (+4.5 per game) has improved from 246th nationally to 19th.
On the free throw front, Tech is up nearly 7 percent from a year ago (from 65.7 percent to 72.6 percent this year). The last two years, the Jackets have ranked 309th and 265th, respectively. This year, they are 76th.
Shumpert Building on Defensive Reputation
Junior guard Iman Shumpert has developed into one of the top defensive players in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the nation. He consistently draws the opponent’s top perimeter or wing scorer for his defensive assignment.
This season, for example, te 6-5 native of Oak Park, Ill., has successfully contained top scorers such as UTEP’s Randy Culpepper and Richmond’s Kevin Anderson, helping the Jackets win both games.
Culpepper, who came into the game with Tech averaging more than 20 points a game, scored just 13 against the Jackets while missing all 6 of his three-point shots in the 71-61 Tech win. Anderson, last year’s Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, had averaged more than 17 points a game this season, but managed only 12 (5-of-12 FG) against Shumpert and the Jackets and wasn’t a factor in the 67-54 Tech victory.
Last season, Shumpert’s signature performance came in the Yellow Jackets’ first-round win over Oklahoma State, when he held the Big 12 Player of the Year James Anderson to just 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting (0-for-6 on 3s).
Shumpert is averaging 2.6 steals per game this season, which ranks second in the ACC and 13th nationally. That’s more than a half-steal better than his 2009-10 average (1.9 per game), which also ranked second in the ACC.