Tech Makes Quick Turnaround with Visit to Wake Forest

Jan. 29, 2007

Winston-Salem, N.C. –

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Mired in a three-game skid, Georgia Tech attempts to end it playing its third road game in the last four when the Yellow Jackets visit Wake Forest at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Tech returns to Atlanta for three straight games after that, including Clemson and NC State at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and Connecticut at the Georgia Dome.

Tuesday’s game is being televised throughout the Atlantic Coast region on the Raycom/Lincoln Financial Sports ACC Network. Stations in Georgia carrying the game include WATL in Atlanta, WGSA in Savannah, WLTZ in Columbus, WGSA in Savannah and WDNN in Dalton. Live online video streaming is available on ACCSelect.com in other markets.

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. 192.

Tech, 13-7 overall, 2-5 in the ACC, extended its losing streak with a homecourt loss to No. 24 Virginia Tech Sunday, 73-65, following a pair of road losses to No. 4 North Carolina and Maryland. The Jackets are 2-1 at home with wins over Duke and Florida State in ACC play, 0-4 on the road (two of those to top-25 teams). Tech has not won an ACC road game since Feb. 26, 2005, at Miami.

Wake Forest, 9-11 overall and 1-7 in the ACC, enters Tuesday’s game having lost six straight games, including a 74-66 decision Saturday at Florida State. The Demon Deacons are 0-3 at home in conference play.

Series vs. Wake Forest

> Wake Forest leads the overall series with Georgia Tech, 32-28, having won six of the last nine meetings and 11 of the last 16. The teams have split their regular-season meetings the last three years.

> Last season: Wake Forest took advantage of 14 first-half turnovers to take a 51-28 halftime lead and won 86-71 in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons led by as many as 27 points early in the second half before Tech rallied to within eight points late in the game. Justin Gray scored 25 points and Eric Williams 21 to lead Wake, while Anthony Morrow scored a career-high 29 (6-9 on threes) for Tech. In the second meeting in Atlanta, Tech shot 52.1 percent from the floor and led almost from start to finish in a 76-61 win. Freshman Lewis Clinch paced Tech with a career-high 20 points, while Wake’s Eric Williams scored 24 points with 15 rebounds.

> The home team has won 21 of the last 28 regular-season games in the series, with Wake Forest winning four times at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in that span, and Tech winning three times in Winston-Salem.

> Tech had lost five straight games to Wake Forest at Lawrence Joel Coliseum before its win on Jan. 20, 2004, and is just 4-13 in the building. Tech is 8-20 against Wake Forest on the road, including a 2-3 mark in regular-season games played in Greensboro and a 2-4 mark in games played in Winston-Salem prior to the opening of Joel Coliseum.

> Tech is 25-21 against Wake Forest since 1985, including 12 straight victories from 1985-91.

> Tech is 5-8 against Wake Forest under head coach Paul Hewitt. The Jackets are 4-7 against Skip Prosser-coached Wake Forest teams.

Quick Look at Tech

Georgia Tech has a solid returning nucleus of veteran players, but the Yellow Jackets have started three freshmen in 14 of their 20 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 13.3 points (45.1 pct. FG) as well as 5.5 assists per game (third in the ACC). Crittenton has made 40.7 percent of his three-point tries overall this season, has averaged a team-high 14.1 points in Tech’s ACC games (17th-best in the conference), 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, now at a team-high 14.4 points per game (17th in the ACC) after posting a pair of 20-point efforts at North Carolina (22) and Maryland (21). The Memphis, Tenn., native has averaged 13.0 points in Tech’s six ACC games this month, and has made 50.7 percent of his shots from the floor in conference play (10th-best in the ACC).

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 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. He leads Tech in field goal percentage (62.9 percent) and has nine double-digit scoring efforts.

Since returning to the starting lineup for the Centenary game on Dec. 18, Dickey has posted seven double-figure efforts and has made 68.3 percent of his field goal attempts in ACC games (59.3 percent overall). Dickey averages 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds overall this season, 10.4 points and 4.9 rebounds vs. the ACC.

Red-shirt freshman Mouhammad Faye, who has started seven of the last eight games, had a career game against Virginia Tech with 17 points (7-13 FG) and nine rebounds (seven offensive). A 6-10 forward from Dakar, Senegal, Faye has averaged 5.2 points and 3.8 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.

Off the bench, Mario West, a 6-5 senior guard (5.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.9 steals), has been the Jackets’ catalyst on defense and logged important backup minutes at point guard, but came through on the offensive end against Florida State with a career-high 18 points. Anthony Morrow, a 6-5 junior, has returned to his form of 2005-06, averaging 14.1 points (56.5 pct. FG) over Tech’s last eight games. He averages 9.3 points for the season, 11.1 vs. the ACC.

Also averaging double-digit minutes are Peacock, who started the first nine games of the season and averages 6.3 points and 3.2 rebounds (53 pct. FG) as Tech’s backup center and power forward, and 6-5 sophomore win D’Andre Bell (0.8 ppg, 0.6 rpg).

Jackets Sputter on Offensive End

Georgia Tech has suddenly found life difficult on the offensive end, averaging just 63.7 points in its last three games in losses to North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia Tech.

In each, the Yellow Jackets dug deep holes for themselves in the first half, falling behind by 11 at UNC, 17 at Maryland and nine to Virginia Tech. Tech shot just 34.5 percent in the opening frame at North Carolina, 41.4 percent at Maryland and 31.4 percent against Virginia Tech. The Jackets recovered to connect on 48.4 percent after halftime against the Tar Heels, 53.1 percent at Maryland, 41.7 percent vs. the Hokies, but the Jackets could get no closer than four points to either opponent.

Tech has turned the ball over 51 times in the three games combined, and assisted on just 25 of 80 field goals. The Jackets have not gotten to the free throw line, and have not shot well there when they have (18-of-39).

International Man of Mystery

The layers continue to peel off for Tech’s “International Man of Mystery,” red-shirt freshman forward Mouhammad Faye. The 6-10 Faye put forth his best game as a Yellow Jacket Sunday against Virginia Tech, scoring 17 points (7-of-13 FG) and nine rebounds. Many of his baskets came off his seven offensive rebounds, and he added an assist and a steal.

A native of Dakar, Senegal, Faye 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. A disruptive force on defense because of his 7-foot-3 wingspan, and a skilled passer, Faye has has started seven of Tech’s last eight games and averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 rebounds over his last nine games.

Morrow Back to Form

Anthony Morrow, Tech’s 6-5 junior guard who missed the first three weeks of practice recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back, has worked his way back into the form which made him the ACC’s leading three-point shooter in 2005-06.

The Charlotte, N.C., native showed a little bit of a different game Sunday against Virginia Tech, working his way inside for eight of his 18 points and shooting 7-for-11 from the floor. He still went 3-for-6 from three-point range, and has hit 52.3 percent of his three-balls over Tech’s last eight games.

Despite not starting a game this season and averaging 20.4 minutes, Morrow is Tech’s third-leading scorer in ACC games (11.1 ppg), hitting 44.8 percent of his threes and 52 percent overall, as well as 86.7 percent from the foul line. He has scored in double figures in seven of his last eight games.

Morrow resumed full practice on Nov. 5 after not participating in any strength and conditioning work or individual instruction after mid-August, when his injury was diagnosed. Morrow led the team in scoring (16.0 points per game) and the ACC in three-point shooting (42.9 percent) last year.

Quoting head coach Paul Hewitt

“Offensively, I think we’re getting better. I felt we had a lot of makeable shots yesterday that did not fall for us. The thing we have to get back to doing is playing good defense. We’ve been sporadic this year. We have had stretches where we played good defense, followed by stretches where we played poor defense. Then we played good defense, and now we’re back to playing substandard defense. So we just need to pick ourselves back up defensively and continue to grow offensively, because I see some positive things on the offensive end.”

On the importance of the Wake Forest game – “Obviously, we need to get a win. We have not played well the last three games, although I thought we played better yesterday. We’ve just got to start playing better. Maybe we’re pressing a little bit too much, and we just need to relax and play good basketball.”

On balance in the ACC this season – “The league has always been like that. Unfortunately, that is something people don’t recognize. There is a great deal of balance and quality in this league. A lot of people, nationally, don’t recognize that, and that’s why we’ve somewhat been shortchanged by the NCAA tournament committee over the seven years I’ve been in the league. The only thing we can control is how well we play game in and game out, and make sure we put ourselves in position to win games.”

What does a win like North Carolina’s over Arizona mean for the ACC – “I don’t think is means a lot, to tell you the truth, because, nationally, people look at our league as Duke and Carolina, and the rest of us are also-rans. We know that’s not the truth. Both of those are great programs coached by terrific coaches. Often our league is short-changed because those guys are so good, are so well-coached and recruit so well that, if we beat them, they’re down like I’ve been hearing all year about Duke, which is very laughable. If they win, then the league isn’t very good because Duke and Carolina are dominating.”

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