Feb. 19, 2003
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech puts its unbeaten homecourt record on the line Thursday night when it entertains 10th-ranked Wake Forest at 7 p.m. at sold-out Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center.
The game is being televised nationally on ESPN2, with radio coverage provided by the Georgia Tech-ISP Network. The game can be heard in the Atlanta area on WQXI-AM (790), WMGP-FM (98.1), WSNY-FM (100.1), WLKQ-FM (102.3) and WTSH-FM (107.1).
Tech is 12-10 overall and 5-6 in the ACC, a half-game ahead of Virginia for fifth place in the conference standings. The Jackets have lost their last two games, both on the road, to NC State and Florida State. Wake Forest, in second place at 7-3 and 17-4 overall following a loss at Maryland Monday, is the seventh AP Top 25 team the Yellow Jackets have faced this season. Tech is 2-4 against nationally-ranked teams this season, both wins coming at home.
Unbeaten at home this season at 11-0, the Yellow Jackets have won their five ACC home games (NC State, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland) by an average of 15.4 points. The game is Tech’s fifth appearance this season on ESPN or ESPN2, with two more to come next Wednesday against Duke and Mar. 5 at Virginia.
The Demon Deacons defeated Tech, 73-66, in the teams’ first meeting this year in Winston-Salem, with their senior forward Josh Howard leading the way with a game-high 30 points. Chris Bosh led the Jackets with 22.
“You always have to prepare for the best player, in this case, Josh Howard,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. “He can do so many things to ignite that team. They have other talented players, but if you can hold him, it might do something to their overall confidence. Also when you talk about Wake Forest, you have to beat them on the glass. If you don’t beat them on the glass, they get a spark.”
Tech has five games left in the regular season, including the next two at home against Wake Forest and Duke (Feb. 26). At 5-6, Tech is three games out of first place, two games out of fourth.
“It’s been well-documented how close the matchups are in this league, and whoever can put together a streak here down the stretch, can very well end up in the top three,” said Hewitt. “So this is a very important game. Wake is a great team coming off a tough loss, and they’ll be ready to play.”
“In order to make ourselves a factor in this league, we know we need to be more consistent. We’ve played extremely well at home and slipped up at the end of games on the road. We’ve got to become more consistent.”
Georgia Tech’s starting lineup includes 6-3 freshman Jarrett Jack at the point, 6-4 junior Marvin Lewis and 6-4 sophomore B.J. Elder on the wings, and 6-8 sophomore Ed Nelson and the 6-10 freshman Bosh in the frontcourt. This lineup has started five games together this season, including the last four against Clemson, Maryland, NC State and Florida State.
Tech has three players ranked among the ACC’s top 15 in scoring, led by Elder, who ranks eighth in the conference 15.9 points a game overall. He ranks second in the ACC in three-point shooting percentage at 41.7 percent, and fifth in overall field goal percentage at 47.7 percent. The Madison, Ga., native scored 19 in his last game at Florida State.
Bosh, Tech’s ACC Rookie of the Year candidate, ranks ninth in the ACC in scoring at 15.6 points per game, leads the ACC in field goal percentage (57.1) and blocked shots (1.95 per game) and is second in rebounding (9.5). Bosh has 10 double-doubles this season. Lewis, who has averaged 21.3 points in Techs five ACC home games, ranks 15th in the ACC overall at 13.0 points per game and is fifth in three-point percentage (39.5).
Jack, Tech’s fourth-leading scorer at 9.2 points along with 6.0 assists (fourth in the ACC), has averaged 11.3 points and 6.0 assists against the ACC. Nelson, the ACCs seventh-leading rebounder at 7.0 per game along with 7.9 points a game, has averaged 9.8 points and 7.3 rebounds since returning to the starting lineup four games ago.
Tech gets reserve help in the post from Schenscher, averaging 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds while hitting 49.5 percent of his shots. Ismail Muhammad, a 6-6 sophomore forward averaging 5.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, and Anthony McHenry, a 6-7 sophomore averaging 2.2 points and 1.7 rebounds, provide excellent defense on the wing.
TECH SERIES VS. WAKE FOREST
oWake Forest leads the all-time series with Tech, 28-25, and has a 26-24 mark against the Yellow Jackets since Tech joined the ACC. The Demon Deacons won the first meeting between the two teams this season, 73-66, on Jan. 19 as Josh Howard scored 30 points. Chris Bosh led Tech with 22 (see box score on page 25).
oTech is 17-7 in games played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, having won the last two encounters at the Thrillerdome and four of the last five. Wake last won in Atlanta on Jan. 27, 2000 (60-46).
oIn last year’s game in Atlanta, B.J. Elder scored 25 points off the bench (23 in the second half) to lead the Jackets past the Deacons, overshadowing a 19-point, 8-assist game by Tony Akins on senior night. Luke Schenscher went 7-for-7 from the floor and scored 14 points.
oThe home team has won 16 of the last 19 regular-season games in the series, the exceptions being a 77-76 Tech win at Wake on Feb. 11, 1998, a 60-46 Wake victory at Tech on Feb. 27, 2000, and a 73-63 Wake win at Tech on Jan. 8, 1997.
oTech is 22-18 against Wake Forest since 1985, including 12 straight victories from 1985-91.
oThe closest game in the series last 10 games was Tech’s six-point overtime win at Alexander Memorial Coliseum during the 2000-01 season and the six-point Wake win earlier this season.
THE COMFORTS OF HOME
Georgia Tech has not lost at home in 11 tries this season, including a win over then-No. 17 Georgia in the second game of the campaign on Nov. 27 and ACC wins over NC State, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia and No. 8 Maryland. The Yellow Jackets have won 13 straight home games and 15 of 16 since last season (only loss was to Duke in that stretch, on Feb. 9).
The Yellow Jackets have averaged 84.5 points per game at home this season and outscored their guests by an average of 19 points. Tech has shot 48.7 percent from the floor and 45.0 percent from three-point range at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, while holding its guests to 39.1 percent overall.
oIn ACC home games: Tech has outscored its foes 84.8-to-69.4, a margin of 15.4 points a game, outshot them 50.9 percent to 40.1 percent overall, and 50.0 percent to 33.0 percent from three-point range. Tech has a rebound margin of plus-4.0, and has made 77.1 percent of its free throws.
TECH AGAINST RANKED TEAMS
Georgia Tech has won 10 games against nationally-ranked opponents against 20 losses in two-plus seasons under Paul Hewitt, including a 2-4 mark this season. Tech took an 83-77 homecourt win over No. 17 Georgia on Nov. 27 and a 90-84 win over No. 8 Maryland Sunday, and suffered road losses to No. 20 Minnesota (64-63), No. 23 Maryland (84-77), No. 19 Wake Forest (73-66) and No. 3 Duke (91-71), an average losing margin of 5.8 points.
At home, Tech is 6-5 against nationally-ranked opposition under Hewitt, and 8-6 against ranked teams in the city of Atlanta (including games at Philips Arena and the Georgia Dome).
ELDER-BOSH-LEWIS TRIO FUELS TECH OFFENSE
When Georgia Tech has B.J. Elder, Chris Bosh and Marvin Lewis going at the same time, the Yellow Jackets have been hard to stop. The trio has accounted for 57.9 percent of the Yellow Jackets scoring this season, a total of 44.5 points a game, and have combined to make 49.2 percent of their field goal tries, 41.4 percent of their three-point tries, and 74.5 percent of their free throws.
In Tech’s 12 wins, their contributions are greater, as you might expect, though they account for a slightly lesser percentage of Techs points (57.1). In Tech’s victories, they have shot 52.8 percent from the floor, 47.3 percent from three-point range, and 77.0 percent from the free throw line.
They are the highest scoring trio for Tech since 1997-98, when Matt Harpring, Michael Maddox and Dion Glover combined to average 53.2 of Tech’s 76.3 points a game (69.7 percent).
All three players rank among the top 15 in the ACC in scoring average. Bosh and Elder rank first and fourth, respectively, in field goal percentage. Elder and Lewis rank second and fifth in three-point percentage (40.6 percent combined) and rank fourth and seventh in three-pointers made per game (4.32 combined).
Tech is 6-2 this season when all three score in double figures, and against only Marist (a 67-53 win) have two of the three failed to reach double figures.
JACK STEPS UP
Freshman point guard Jarrett Jack has gradually become more effective directing the offense for Tech, but has dramatically elevated himself as a scoring threat in the last two weeks.
The 6-3 freshman, named ACC Rookie of the Week a week ago, has put together his best all-around games of the season in the Yellow Jackets last six games, averaging 13.8 points and 6.2 assists while connecting on 30 of 53 field goal attempts (56.6 percent).
He scored a career-high 20 points, with eight assists, against 8th-ranked Maryland on Feb. 9, canning his only three-point attempt with 39 seconds to go with Tech holding a slim 82-80 lead, and then added three free throws to help Tech seal the win.
Following his 16-point effort Saturday at Florida State, he now has 10 double-figure scoring efforts this season, and Tech has won all but two of those games.
Jack ranks fifth in the ACC in assist average (5.95 per game) and eighth in assist/turnover ratio (1.60). He has stepped up in conference play, averaging 11.3 points and 6.0 assists while shooting 49.4 percent from the floor.
THE FULL NELSON
Sophomore Ed Nelson is showing the warrior form that made him the 2002 ACC Rookie of the Year, and he has earned his way back into Techs starting lineup.
In his four games back in the starting lineup, beginning at Clemson on Feb. 5, Nelson has averaged 9.8 points and 7.3 rebounds.
The 6-8 forward scored 13 points at NC State last Wednesday, his third-highest scoring game of the season. He grabbed 12 rebounds to go with nine points against No. 8 Maryland on Feb. 9. Nelson nabbed 11 boards with eight points at Wake Forest, 10 boards with 11 points against Elon and a season-high 13 caroms to go with six points against North Carolina.
Nelson has also shot the ball better in his last nine games, hitting 26 of 65 shots from the floor (40 percent compared to 38.5 for the season) and 23 of 31 from the foul line (74.2 percent) while averaging 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds.