Tech Looks to Halt Slide vs. No. 6 Duke

Feb. 25, 2003

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech looks to end a three-game losing streak Wednesday night when No. 6 Duke visits Alexander Memorial Coliseum for a nationally-televised Atlantic Coast Conference game at 7 p.m.

The game is being televised by ESPN, with radio coverage provided by the Georgia Tech-ISP Network. Listeners can tune in to WQXI-AM (790), WMGP-FM (98.1), WSNY-FM (100.1), WLKQ-FM (102.3) and WTSH-FM (107.1).

The Yellow Jackets, 12-11 overall and 5-7 in the ACC, have dropped their last three games to NC State, Florida State and Wake Forest by an average of seven points. Tech’s loss to Wake Forest, six days ago, was the first on its homecourt this season and ended a 13-game winning streak at the Thrillerdome. Tech is tied with Clemson for fifth place in the Atlantic Coast Conference, two games behind fourth-place NC State and a half-game ahead of Virginia.

Duke comes to town with a 19-4 overall record and a 9-4 mark in the ACC, tied with Maryland for second place in the conference standings. The Blue Devils have won three straight, including a 79-68 homecourt win over NC State Saturday.

Tech has four games left in the regular season, home contests against Duke and Clemson (Mar. 8) and visits to North Carolina Saturday and Virginia next Wednesday. With a six-day break since the Wake Forest loss, the Jackets took two days off Friday and Saturday before returning to practice Sunday night.

“It’s been very beneficial, especially for some of our freshmen,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. “Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack, in particular, were a little worn down after the Wake Forest game. It was the first time we’ve had two days off since we got started in October, and they definitely had a little more bounce when we practiced Sunday.

“It’s great to be home, and it’s great to have the rest, but every game is going to be intense and competitive. One of the unique things about the ACC is you play everybody twice, which factors into the way you prepare. Everybody in the ACC is a top opponent. That’s why the games are so hotly contested and it’s hard to win on the road.

Duke won the first meeting between the two teams, 91-71, on Jan. 25 in Durham. While Tech focused much of its attention slowing guards Chris Duhon and J.J. Redick (19 points combined), freshman Shelden Williams began to assert himself inside for the Blue Devils with 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.

“Duke is playing much better than when we saw them last,” said Hewitt. “Shelden Williams has really emerged for them inside. He’s answered whatever questions they had early on about their production inside. They’ve got players like Dahntay Jones and Chris Duhon, who are playing as well as anyone in the league. You’ve got plenty to focus on. Their pressure defense is really outstanding.”

During its three-game losing streak, Tech has shot 37.9 percent from the floor, 31.6 percent from three-point range, and averaged 62.7 points per game. NC State, FSU and Wake Forest shot a combined 47.2 percent against the Jackets. Tech has trailed at halftime of all three games by an average of 10.3 points.

A win for Tech Wednesday would end a 13-game losing streak to Duke in the series, and a six-game losing streak at home to the Blue Devils. Duke represents the eighth AP Top 25 team the Yellow Jackets have faced this season. Tech is 2-5 against nationally-ranked teams this season, both wins coming at home. The game is Tech’s sixth appearance this season on ESPN or ESPN2, with one more to come next Wednesday at Virginia.

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 6-10 freshman Chris Bosh in the frontcourt. This lineup has started six games together this season, including the last five.

Tech has three players ranked among the ACCs top 15 in scoring, led by Elder, who ranks eighth in the conference 15.8 points a game overall. He ranks second in the ACC in three-point shooting percentage at 41.0 percent, and seventh in overall field goal percentage at 47.1 percent. The Madison, Ga., native has averaged 18.9 points against AP top 25 teams this season.

Bosh, Tech’s ACC Rookie of the Year candidate who is also contending for all-ACC honors, ranks ninth in the ACC in scoring at 15.5 points per game, leads the ACC in field goal percentage (55.7) and blocked shots (2.09 per game) and is second in rebounding (9.3). Bosh has 10 double-doubles this season. Lewis, who has averaged 20.3 points in Techs five ACC home games, ranks 15th in the ACC overall at 13.1 points per game and is third in three-point percentage (40.9).

Jack, Tech’s fourth-leading scorer at 9.6 points along with 6.0 assists (fourth in the ACC), has averaged 11.9 points and 6.2 assists against the ACC. Nelson, the ACCs seventh-leading rebounder at 6.9 per game along with 7.7 points a game, has averaged 8.2 points and 7.0 rebounds since returning to the starting lineup four games ago.

Tech gets reserve help in the post from Schenscher, averaging 4.7 points and 3.6 rebounds while hitting 48.5 percent of his shots. Ismail Muhammad, a 6-6 sophomore forward averaging 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds, and Anthony McHenry, a 6-7 sophomore averaging 2.1 points and 1.6 rebounds, provide excellent defense on the wing.

TECH SERIES VS. DUKE

oDuke leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech, 50-20, and has won the last 13 games in a row with Georgia Tech dating back to the 1995-96 season, when the Stephon Marbury/Matt Harpring-led Jackets swept the season series from the Blue Devils on the way to a first-place finish in the regular season (13-3)

oThe average margin of victory for Duke during the 13-game streak is 22.9 points per game. The closest game was an 87-79 decision in Atlanta on Feb. 6, 1999, and only three of the games were decided by 10 points or fewer.

oDuke won the teams first meeting this year, 91-71, on Jan. 25 in Durham. The Blue Devils scored the last six points of the first half and the first five of the second half to open a 10-point lead, and Tech never recovered. Duke shot 58.6 percent in the second half, while holding the Jackets to 34.6 percent. B.J. Elder led Tech with 22 points.

oDuke has won the last six meetings at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, outscoring the Yellow Jackets on average by 18.8 points, including last years 95-63 Blue Devil win. Techs last win over Duke at Alexander, as well as its last win in the series, was a 73-71 overtime decision on Feb. 7, 1996.

oPrior to the current string, Tech had won three of four from the Blue Devils. Techs best stretch during the series occurred between 1982 and 1989, when the Yellow Jackets won 10 of 17 meetings. The Jackets have never won more than two in a row in the series.

oDuke was the first opponent for Georgia Tech in Alexander Memorial Coliseum back on Nov. 30, 1956, when the Blue Devils took a 71-61 victory. Tech is 11-16 against Duke in the Thrillerdome, and the Blue Devils have won the last six meetings here.

THE COMFORTS OF HOME

Georgia Tech is 11-1 at home this season, its first loss occurring last Thursday by a 75-67 score to 10th-ranked Wake Forest, which snapped a 13-game homecourt streak. The Yellow Jackets home wins include 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 15 of their last 17 at home.

The Yellow Jackets have averaged 83.1 points per game at home this season and outscored their guests by an average of 16.9 points. Tech has shot 47.8 percent from the floor and 44.6 percent from three-point range at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, while holding its guests to 40.0 percent overall.

oIn ACC home games: Tech has outscored its foes by an average margin of 11.5 points a game, outshot them 48.5 percent to 41.9 percent overall, and 47.9 percent to 33.1 percent from three-point range. Tech has a rebound margin of plus-2.8, and has made 76.5 percent of its free throws.

TECH AGAINST RANKED TEAMS

Georgia Tech has won 10 games against nationally-ranked opponents against 21 losses in two-plus seasons under Paul Hewitt, including a 2-5 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 on Feb. 9. The losses have come to No. 20 Minnesota (64-63), No. 23 Maryland (84-77), No. 19 Wake Forest (73-66) and No. 3 Duke (91-71) on the road, and No. 10 Wake Forest (75-67) at home. The five losses to ranked teams have occurred by an average losing margin of 8.6 points.

At home, Tech is 6-6 against top 25 opposition under Hewitt, and 8-7 against ranked teams in the city of Atlanta (including games at Philips Arena and the Georgia Dome).

ELDER-BOSH-LEWIS FUEL 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 58.1 percent of the Yellow Jackets scoring this season, a total of 43.7 points a game, and have combined to make 48.8 percent of their field goal tries, 41.8 percent of their three-point tries, and 74.3 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 Techs 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 Techs 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 seventh, respectively, in field goal percentage. Elder and Lewis rank second and third in three-point percentage (41.0 percent combined) and rank fourth and fifth in three-pointers made per game (4.43 combined).

Tech is 6-3 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.

PUTTING THE CLAMPS ON

Georgia Tech has tightened its defense of late, holding seven of its last 13 opponents to 40 percent or under from the floor. Techs field goal percentage defense (43.0) against the ACC is fourth-best in the league, and its three-point percentage defense (33.3) against the conference also ranks No. 4.

Tech has managed to shut down several of the ACCs top scorers: NC States Julius Hodge (No. 1, 19.2 ppg before Tech), Florida States Tim Pickett (No. 4, 18.0 before Tech), Dukes J.J. Redick (No. 6, 17.2 before Tech), North Carolinas Rashad McCants (No. 2, 19.4 before Tech), and Virginias Travis Watson (No. 11, 14.9 before Tech). The Jackets held Hodge to just nine points in each of the two games (2-13 FG combined), Pickett to 21 (8-26 FG, 3-12 on threes), Redick to 11 (2-of-10 FG, 1-6 on threes), McCants to 12 (5-18 FG, 2-7 on threes) and Watson to four (2-8 FG).

Worth noting: Techs scoring defense of 69.8 points a game is its third-best figure since the three-point shot was instituted permanently for the 1986-87 season. Its field goal percentage allowed (41.8) has been bettered by only five Tech teams since 1960.

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