Tech Hosts NC State Looking for Second Straight Win

Feb. 5, 2007

ATLANTA –

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Fresh off an 18-point win over No. 25 Clemson that snapped a four-game losing streak, Georgia Tech continues its homestand Tuesday night with a 7 p.m. game against NC State at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. This will be the only meeting between the two teams this year.

Tuesday’s game is being televised throughout the Atlantic Coast region on the ACC’s Regional Sports Network, which comprises FSN South in the Atlanta area, Sun Sports and FSN Florida in the state of Florida, Comcast SportsNet in the mid-Atlantic area, and the New England Sports Network in New England.

Radio coverage is provided by the Georgia Tech-ISP Sports Network and heard locally on WQXI-AM (790), WREK-FM (91.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1). A broadcast of the game can also be heard nationally on XM Satellite Radio Ch. 191.

Tech is 14-8 overall, 3-6 in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets remain in 10th place in the conference standings following Saturday’s 80-62 victory over the Tigers, but stand just two games out of fifth. Saturday’s win improved Tech’s record at home to 12-1, 3-1 in ACC games, and improved its mark against top-25 teams to 3-4.

The Yellow Jackets are 3-4 this year against conference foes ahead of them in the ACC standings, 0-2 against teams below them.

NC State, 13-5 overall and 3-5 in the ACC, is coming off a pair of wins over top-25 teams, a 70-59 win at 16th-ranked Virginia Tech last Wednesday and an 83-79 homecourt victory over No. 4 North Carolina Saturday.

Series vs. NC State

> NC State leads the overall series with Georgia Tech, 48-32 … The Wolfpack had won seven straight games in the series until Tech broke the string with a 71-68 victory in Atlanta on Feb. 12 of last season … The Wolfpack have still won 16 of the last 21 meetings … Prior to that, Tech had won seven in a row.

> Tech is 20-13 against the Wolfpack in Atlanta, including one home-court meeting that was played at the Omni in 1986.

> Last season: Zam Fredrick scored a career-high 22 points, including a key three-point basket with 3;22 left and a baseline jumper at 1:03, to lift Tech to a 71-68 homecourt victory, giving the Yellow Jackets a season split. Tech shot 54 percent from the floor and placed four players in double figures. In the first meeting in Raleigh, NC State opened a 10-point lead in each half only to watch Tech climb back and take leads, the last of which occurred with 8:14 to go in the game (61-60). Cameron Bennerman and Tony Bethel answered with threes, two of 13 made in the game by the Wolfpack, to pull away.

> Tech is 4-9 against NC State under head coach Paul Hewitt, and was just 6-16 against the Wolfpack under their former head coach Herb Sendek.

> Since it joined the ACC, Tech is 24-35 against NC State, including regular-season and tournament.

Quick Look at Tech

Georgia Tech has a solid returning nucleus of veteran players, but the Yellow Jackets have started three freshmen in 15 of their 22 games this season, including forward Thaddeus Young and point guard Javaris Crittenton, who have been the Yellow Jackets’ offensive leaders.

Crittenton, a 6-5 point guard from Atlanta, is the trigger man, averaging 13.6 points (45.6 pct. FG) as well as 5.6 assists per game (third in the ACC). Crittenton has made 41.8 percent of his three-point tries overall this season, has averaged a team-high 14.8 points in Tech’s ACC games, and has played an average of 34.7 minutes in those games.

Young, a 6-8 small forward, has been around the team lead in scoring all season, currently at a team-best 14.3 points per game (17th in the ACC). The Memphis, Tenn., native has averaged 14.6 points in Tech’s ACC games in 2007, and has made 49 percent of his shots from the floor in conference play.

Tech’s inside game is carried by two veterans in Ra’Sean Dickey, a 6-10 junior from Clio, S.C., and Jeremis Smith, a 6-8 junior from Fort Worth, Texas. Smith, the only Tech player to start every game this season, gives Tech some muscle inside on defense and on the boards, averaging 8.8 points and 5.7 rebounds. He leads Tech in field goal percentage (61.5 percent) and has 10 double-digit scoring efforts.

Since returning to the starting lineup for the Centenary game on Dec. 18, Dickey has posted eight double-figure efforts and has made 65.4 percent of his field goal attempts in ACC games (58.8 percent overall). Dickey averages 8.6 points and 5.9 rebounds overall this season, 10.4 points and 5.3 rebounds vs. the ACC.

Anthony Morrow, a 6-5 junior who has been Tech’s leading scorer over Tech’s last 10 games (13.7 ppg), made his first start of the season last Saturday against Clemson and will remain in the lineup for NC State. The Charlotte, N.C., native has averaged 11.3 points in Tech’s ACC games, third-best on the team, and 9.5 points per game for the season.

Off the bench, Mario West, a 6-5 senior guard from Douglasville, Ga. (4.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.8 steals), has been the Jackets’ catalyst on defense and logged important backup minutes at point guard, and came through on the offensive end against Florida State with a career-high 18 points. Red-shirt freshman Mouhammad Faye, a 6-10 forward from Dakar, Senegal, who has started eight games, has averaged 5.0 points and 3.5 rebounds this season, but his biggest contributions come on defense, where his 7-foot-3 wingspan has caused havoc in Tech’s press and in halfcourt defensive situations. Also averaging double-digit minutes are Peacock, who started the first nine games of the season and averages 6.2 points and 3.3 rebounds (50.5 pct. FG) as Tech’s backup center and power forward.

Tiger Tales

> Georgia Tech scored 80 points for the first time since Jan. 13 with its 80-62 victory over No. 25 Clemson Saturday, doing so despite making only 3-of-12 three-point tries.

> Sophomore Alade Aminu, who had not played in an ACC game this year, matched his career-high with 10 points (5-6 FG).

> Javaris Crittenton’s 26 points were a career-high, and his seven steals came up one short of Tech’s single-game record.

> Jeremis Smith posted his first 10-rebound game of the season after logging 10 last seaso. He also had five assists and three steals.

> Zach Peacock posted career and season highs in rebounds (7) and assists (4) and did not have a turnover.

> Tech’s 22 offensive rebounds, which led to 20 second chance points and partly to 48 points in the paint, were one off a season high.

> Tech’s 44-28 rebound margin over Clemson was Tech’s most dominant performance on the boards this season against an ACC team.

> Tech’s 17 steals were a school record for an ACC game, and its 22 turnovers forced were a season high against a conference foe.

Ball Movement, Big Men Tell the Tale

Before Saturday’s 80-62 win over Clemson, Georgia Tech found life difficult on the offensive end, averaging just 66.5 points in four straight losses losses to North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Tech reversed that trend against the Tigers, getting 48 points in the paint and 28 from its post players. Alade Aminu provided the spark with 10 points off the bench in his first ACC action, while Jeremis Smith scored 9 points with 10 boards. The Jackets assisted on 19 of their 29 field goals, a season high for an ACC game.

“Quite honestly, our big guys have got to bring it every night,” said head coach Paul Hewitt after the game. “I don’t want to call anybody out, but those are the facts.

After falling behind by double digits in the first half in each of the four losses, Tech this time built a double-digit lead and only once allowed it to dwindle below that (the 9-point halftime advantage). The Jackets also posted more assists than turnovers for the second straight game and shot 30 free throw attempts, most since their 34 against FSU on Jan. 13.

Quoting head coach Paul Hewitt

“We got a big lift on Saturday from a young man who hasn’t played much this year. Alade Aminu came off the bench and gave us 10 points, was active defensively and ran the court well for us. He gave us some energy that really helped us in getting the win on Saturday. For this week, Mouhammad Faye, one of our freshmen forwards, looks like he’ll be missing the game [Tuesday]. He woke up Sunday with a 103 temperature, and it’s still 103 now, so he’s doubtful for [Tuesday’s] game against NC State.”

On Javaris Crittenton bouncing back Saturday – “I really feel like the four games prior to Saturday, Javaris certainly could have played better, but I’m not sure how much help he was getting from our big guys. We played against teams that got in the passing lanes and denied entry passes, and I don’t think we did a good job of flashing to relieve pressure or setting good screens to allow us to enter the ball. Consequently, the ball got stuck in his hands, and he wound up dribbling around a lot.

“Saturday, I thought Aminu did a good job of moving without the ball, screening and opening things up for all of our perimeter players to get the ball entered or drive the ball to the basket. We got a lot of easy baskets on Saturday, which we haven’t been doing.”

On the confidence level of young players when things aren’t going well – “You have to be (careful), especially with a young point guard who is setting everything up for you. The one thing we’re fortunate for is that Javaris is a very confident young man, and competitive. We just need to talk to him and make sure he doesn’t get down on himself.”

On increased buzz about the ACC and its impact on post-season – “Teams are playing well, but we won’t know what the impact of that buzz is until Selection Sunday and we see exactly who is in the tournament. All of us around this league know that this is a league that should consistently get six or seven teams in because of the quality and depth of the league, but it doesn’t always work out that way.”

On NC State – “They play with a great sense of purpose. They run their halfcourt offense very well. They definitely know who they’re trying to attack in terms of isolating and getting certain matchups offensively. It’s a very good transition defense team. If you don’t watch, they can come down and take quick perimeter shots in transition. They have a very good idea of what they’re going to do. They’re a very well-coached team. With Atsur back, they have a better idea of what they want to do offensively.”

On scheduling the Connecticut game at this point of the year – “I think it’s great, especially this game. It’s a game for two very worthy charities in the Atlanta area, Camp Twin Lakes and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. It’s a great opportunity for our program. It’s a great opportunity for our kids to play against a quality team. We have played this game earlier in the year, usually in December, but the turnout wasn’t quite what we thought it should be, especially considering the cause. Now, it sounds like we have 20,000 seats already sold for the game on Sunday.”

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