Tech Hosts Georgia State at the Thrillerdome

Nov. 15, 2006

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s basketball team goes for its third straight win Thursday night when it hosts cross-town foe Georgia State at 6 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

The game can be heard in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790), WREK-FM (91.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1), and nationally on XM Satellite Radio Ch. 192. Live video streaming can be accessed on the Internet at http://gatech.playonsports.tv/.

Thursday’s game is the third of three home games Georgia Tech will play in a seven-day period before the Yellow Jackets travel to Maui for the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Tech has opened its season with two impressive wins, 83-49 over Elon and 100-70 over Jackson State, making 58.1 percent of its field goals.

Georgia State dropped a 72-66 decision to the College of Charleston, led by former Tech head coach Bobby Cremins, in its opener last Saturday.

Tech and Georgia State are meeting for the first time since Dec. 4, 1993, a 95-65 Jacket victory. The Yellow Jackets have won 14 of the 16 prior meetings, all but two of which have been played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Of the Panthers’ two wins in the series, one occurred at the Thrillerdome, a 69-62 triumph over Dwane Morrison’s Yellow Jackets on Jan. 21, 1976. GSU’s other win happened on Mar. 10, 1973, at Georgia State.

Tech’s starting lineup tonight will be the same as it was for its exhibition game and its first two regular season games, with freshman Javaris Crittenton starting at point guard, sophomore Lewis Clinch and freshman Thaddeus Young on the wings, junior Jeremis Smith at strong forward and freshman Zach Peacock at center.

Crittenton, a 6-5 point guard from Atlanta, was a McDonald’s All-American his senior year at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy and has averaged 14.5 points (47.4 pct. FG) and 7.5 assists in Tech’s first two games. Young, a 6-8 McDonald’s All-American from Mitchell High School in Memphis, Tenn., has averaged 14.5 pounts on 61.9-percent shooting and 4.0 rebounds.

Crittenton and Young were expected to start the opener, but Peacock, a 6-8 all-state performer from Norland High School in Miami, has been a surprise even to head coach Paul Hewitt. Peacock, demonstrating the effort and toughness Hewitt wants in the post, has averaged 11.5 points and 3.0 rebounds while making 8-of-11 field goal tries (72.7 pct.).

“As he gets more comfortable offensively, I think that’s what he can put up – double figures,” said Tech head coach Paul Hewitt. “Zach is playing great defense, and I’m looking forward to him getting comfortable offensively. Tonight he started to get a little more comfortable. He’s a very good three-point shooter. Once that piece falls into place, I think that adds a totally different dimension to our team offensively, to have a big guy who can step out and shoot.”

The freshmen aren’t the only members of the team to have evolved in a positive way during pre-season practice and the first two games. Hewitt has built plenty of depth between the eight returning players and the four freshmen who are playing.

Smith, a 6-8 returning starter from Fort Worth, Texas, has improved offensively and is just as tough on the boards and on defense as he was a year ago. He has averaged 8.5 points and 4.0 rebounds and made 7-of-8 shots from the floor. Clinch, a 6-3 shooter from Cordele, Ga., who started Tech’s final eight games a year ago, leads Tech in scorin through two games (15.0 ppg) and has shot 65 percent from the floor (13-of-20).

Off the bench, four players are averaging double-digit minutes, including Ra’Sean Dickey (9.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 69.2 FG pct.), a 6-10 junior who started 20 games last year, 6-5 senior guard Mario West (6.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6-of-8 FG), 6-10 red-shirt freshman forward Mouhammad Faye (4.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and 6-5 junior guard Anthony Morrow (5.0 ppg).

Morrow, Tech’s 6-5 junior guard who missed the first three weeks of practice recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back, resumed full practice on Nov. 5 and has played 36 total minutes in two games off the bench. Still working his way back to top condition after missing all of pre-season individual instruction and three weeks of practice, Morrow had gone just 3-of-11 from the floor and 1-of-6 from three-point range. Morrow led the team in scoring (16.0 points per game) and the ACC in three-point shooting (42.9 percent) a year ago.

Faye, a 6-10 red-shirt freshman from Dakar, Senegal, had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist in the summer, but returned in time to begin practice with the teams in October and was at full strength by the team’s exhibition game against Morehouse. He scored 11 points in the exhibition, seven in the season opener against Elon.

Tech’s gaudy shooting numbers through two games (58.1 percent from the floor) have been a result of the Yellow Jackets’ ability to get the ball close to the basket and finish. Of the Yellow Jackets’ 72 field goals, 52 have been either layups, dunks or point-blank shots in the paint. Tech is 52-of-67 from close range.

“We can finish around the bucket,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. “This team can capitalize on their defensive ability better than most of the teams I’ve been around because when they get out in transition, they can really finish around the glass. When we get around the basket, I think we finish pretty well. The thing I keep trying to stress to them is that if they get defensive stops and get out in transition, then that ability to finish stands out even more.

Tech’s 65.0-percent shooting clip against Jackson State was easily a high mark for the Yellow Jackets under Paul Hewitt, and the highest percentage achieved by Tech since Jan. 27, 1993 (67.8 percent vs. NC State). Against Jackson State, Jeremis Smith went 4-for-4, Thaddeus Young 6-for-7, Zach Peacock 4-for-6, Lewis Clinch 7-for-9, Ra’Sean Dickey 7-for-9 and Mario West 4-for-4.

Following Thursday night’s game, the Yellow Jackets travel to Maui, Hawaii for the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, where they will face Purdue in the first round on Monday.

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