Dec. 5, 2008
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech concludes a week of major non-conference games Saturday at 2 p.m. when it hosts Vanderbilt in a regionally televised game (FSN South) at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Commodores are the first of three teams from the Southeastern Conference the Yellow Jackets will play this year, and the last meeting in a four-year contract between Tech and Vandy. Both teams enter Saturday’s game after losing at home on Wednesday night.
Tickets for Saturday’s game are $30 and can be purchased at the gate. The game can be heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP Radio Network, including flagship station WQXI-AM (790) and WTSH-FM (107.1) in the Atlanta area.
Tech (4-1) began the season with four straight wins before dropping an 85-83 decision to Penn State at home in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It was the third game in four for the Jackets which was decided by fewer than five points or by overtime. Vanderbilt (5-2) had won four straight games before Wednesday night, when the Commodores fell 74-55 at Memorial Gymnasium to UIC, a team the Jackets host Dec, 14. The Commodores only other loss came at home to Illinois on Nov. 20.
> Tech head coach Paul Hewitt is in his ninth season with the Yellow Jackets (146-115) and his 12th season as a head coach (212-140). Hewitt ranks 19th all-time in victories among ACC coaches.
> Tech is 160-12 against non-conference foes at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, including Wednesday’s loss to Penn State, which is the only non-ACC team to defeat the Jackets twice at home during this stretch.
> Georgia Tech was picked to finish eighth in the ACC by the media at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Operation Basketball media gathering. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 15-17 season (7-9, tie for seventh in the ACC) from which only six players with starting experience return, two of whom are not available to play due to injury or academics.
> Tech has a seven-day break for fall semester exams before resuming its schedule Dec. 14 against UIC.
Series With Vanderbilt
> This year’s game is the fourth of a four-game series the former Southeastern Conference rivals will play. The Commodores hosted the Jackets the last two years, Vanderbilt won both, and Tech earned a win in Atlanta in January of 2006.
> When Vanderbilt took a 73-64 victory over a 25th-ranked Tech team in December, 2006, at Memorial Gymnasium, it was the Yellow Jackets’ first visit to Memorial Gym since 1964. When the Yellow Jackets defeated the Commodores 76-67 on Jan. 3, 2006 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, it was the first time an SEC team other than Georgia had visited Tech’s home court since Feb. 1, 1978. The teams have played just four times since Tech left the SEC in 1964.
> The Commodores hold a 38-32 overall lead in the series which began in 1914. Tech holds a 21-13 lead against the Commodores in Atlanta, and is 7-2 against Vanderbilt at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Vanderbilt is 25-8 against Tech in Nashville.
> Among SEC teams, Tech has played only Georgia (184 games), Auburn (114 games) and Tennessee (69 games) more times than it has Vanderbilt. The Yellow Jackets are 50-83 against SEC teams since leaving the conference in 1964, including a 23-23 mark against the league at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Quick Look at Tech
Head coach Paul Hewitt’s regular starting lineup in the early going includes sophomore Moe Miller and freshman Iman Shumpert at guard, with junior Zachery Peacock, senior Alade Aminu and sophomore Gani Lawal along the front line.
The only exception occurred when Lance Storrs replaced Miller inthe lineup for the Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Jacksonville games after Miller sustained a mild concussion Nov. 22 at Mercer.
With senior D’Andre Bell (spinal stenosis) out for the season and senior Lewis Clinch (academically ineligible) out for the semester, Peacock is being asked to utilize his outside shooting and defensive abilities at the small forward spot.
Tech still has some depth in the backcourt with Storrs and walk-on freshman Nick Foreman coming off the bench. Both are big and strong physically and have combined to play 36 minutes a game.
In the frontcourt, Tech has good numbers with red-shirt sophomore Brad Sheehan and senior Bassirou Dieng, a transfer from St. Francis, Pa., who is enrolled in graduate school. Sheehan has added weight and strength and is averaging more than 15 minutes a game off the bench.
> Three of Tech’s five games have been decided by six points or fewer, one of them in overtime.
> Tech is seventh in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (39.3 pct.). The Jackets were last in 2007-08 (45.2 pct.).
> Tech players have achieved double-doubles eight times through five games (six in points and rebounds, two in points and assists). That matches the number the Yellow Jackets produced in 32 games last year.
> Tech has had at least one player post a double-double in every game this year, including three against Penn State.
> Tech had at least four players score in double figures in the first four games (three against Penn State). Four players average in double-figure points through five games.
> Tech has attempted just under 12 three-point field goals per game. Its opponents have tried an average of 23.2 per game.
> Tech has a plus-4.0 turnover margin through three games, fourth best in the ACC, and has forced an average of 18.4, which is fourth in the conference.
Aminu Spearheading Food Drive at Tech Games
Senior Alade Aminu and his non-profit company, Brotherhood of the World, are asking Georgia Tech basketball fans to donate non-perishable foods, toiletries, blankets and New International Version Bibles at the next five Georgia Tech home basketball games to be distributed to the Atlanta Union Mission.
Bins for donated items will be located inside each gate at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at each of the next five Tech home basketball games through Dec. 17. All of these items will be donated to the Atlanta Union Mission after the game on the 17th.
Aminu started his non-profit venture this summer as a a way for he and his teammates to manage and participate in community service projects – mentoring, tutoring and youth development – with local organizations and schools.
Lawal Off Dominant Start
Sophomore Gani Lawal has been a dominant player on the offensive end and on the boards for Georgia Tech in its first four games. The 6-9 sophomore is averaging a double-double (22.3 ppg, 11.2 rpg) and hitting 64.8 percent of his shots from the floor. He leads the ACC in all three categories.
Lawal has consistently gotten the ball inside for easy lay-ins, dunks and short-range bank shots.
He has established career highs in points three times, first with 18 against Winston-Salem State, then with 27 at Mercer, then with 34 against Penn State. With one more rebound at Mercer, Lawal would have a double-double in every game.
He was clutch in Tech’s overtime win at Mercer, scoring 17 points after halftime. After hitting just 4-of-13 free throws in regulation, he knocked down 3-of-4 in the final 30 seconds of overtime to seal the victory.
Lawal first five games of 2007-08: 26 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists; 1 block; 1 steal
Lawal first five games of 2008-09: 111 points, 56 rebounds, 3 assists; 6 blocks; 7 steals