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Cagers Close Regular Season at Boston College

March 6, 2009

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ATLANTA – Closing out its regular season and perhaps having some say in determining its first-round opponent in next week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, Georgia Tech travels to play Boston College in a regionally-televised game at 12 noon Saturday at the Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

The game, televised by the ACC-Raycom Sports Network, can be seen in Atlanta on WATL-TV (Ch. 36).

Radio coverage is provided by the Georgia Tech-ISP Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on flagship station WQXI-AM (790), as well as WTSH-FM (107.1).

Tech (11-17 overall, 2-13 ACC), has lost 12 of its last 14 games, but comes into the season finale on a high note after defeating Miami, 78-68, at home Wednesday night. Saturday’s result will have no bearing on when Tech plays next Thursday (2:30 p.m. against the No. 5 seed), but it could influence who the Yellow Jackets play.

Boston College (20-10 overall, 8-7 ACC) has lost four of its last six games, including a 74-69 decision Wednesday night at NC State, and currently holds sixth place in the ACC standings. A Tech win Saturday would assure the Yellow Jackets of a first-round date with either Clemson or Florida State, who are tied for fourth place. A BC win could set up a first-round meeting between the Eagles and Jackets.

Tech, which completed a 9-8 homecourt slate with its win Wednesday night, has not won a conference game on the road this year and is 2-9 in all road games.

The Eagles won the first meeting between the schools this year, an 80-76 overtime decision on Jan. 20 in Atlanta. Tyrese Rice led BC with 26 points, hitting 10-of-10 free throws.

The Yellow Jackets may play this game without freshman Iman Shumpert, who bruised his right hip in a fall to the floor on a fast-break attempt late in Wednesday’s win over Miami. The 6-5 guard did not practice Thursday or Friday and is questionable for the game. If he cannot play, Zachery Peacock return to the small forward spot, with Alade Aminu and Gani Lawal manning the post positions. Ironically, Tech went away from starting Peacock, Aminu and Lawal following its Jan. 20 loss to Boston College.

Three-Guard Lineup Produces Mixed Results

Head coach Paul Hewitt returned to a three-guard starting lineup for Georgia Tech’s game at Clemson on Jan. 25, inserting sophomore Moe Miller at point guard in place of senior forward Alade Aminu.

It allowed junior Zachery Peacock, who has played the small forward position for most of this season, to return to the strong forward position where he is most effective. Until Jan. 25, Tech started two guards along with Peacock, Aminu and sophomore Gani Lawal in the front court.

The alignment has worked well for Aminu, not as well for Miller, who was replaced in the starting five for two games by walk-on Nick Foreman. Miller returned to the starting lineup at North Carolina following his 11-point, 5-assist, 1-turnover game against Clemson.

Miller, a 6-1 sophomore averaging 5.1 points and 3.6 assists in ACC games, has struggled the entire season, suffering two concussions and missing seven games with a broken nose. Foreman, a 6-3 freshman from Bellaire, Texas, averaging 1.9 points per game, has provided energy and hustle on the defensive end, but did not score in either of his starts.

Aminu, a 6-10 senior who started on Senior Night against Miami, has averaged 12.1 points and 7.8 rebounds in nine games coming off the bench, having reached double figures in seven of those games. He has shot 52.3 percent from the floor and blocked 18 shots.

Quick Look at Tech

Georgia Tech has relied heavily on post players Gani Lawal (15.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg), Alade Aminu (12.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg) and Zachery Peacock (9.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg), who rank 1-3-5 on the team in scoring and 1-2-3 in rebounding. Lawal ranks second in the ACC in rebounding and field goal percentage, while Aminu ranks fifth in each category.

But it is senior Lewis Clinch who has become Tech’s hottest player of late, scoring more than 20 points in each of his last four games (25.8 ppg), the first time a Tech player has done so since 1998. The 6-3 guard has notched a career high twice during the stretch, first with 27 points against Clemson and then with 30 points Wednesday night against Miami. He has drained 27 three-point field goals (50.9 pct.) over these four games.

Freshman Iman Shumpert, who has played both the point guard and wing positions this year, is Tech’s fourth-leading scorer overall (10.8 ppg) and third in conference games (10.9 ppg). Shumpert ranks third in the ACC and 39th nationally in assists with 5.2 per game, and has made 35.8 percent of his threes.

Sophomore Moe Miller, who has missed eight games this season with injuries and has struggled with his shot, averages 5.9 points and 4.2 assists per game. He has started eight of the last 10 games at the point.

Freshman Nick Foreman, a walk-on who has played in every game this season because of his defensive abilities, and sophomore Lance Storrs (4.4 ppg, 37.5 pct. from three-point range) are the key reserves in the backcourt. Brad Sheehan, a 7-foot sophomore averaging 2.3 points and 1.9 rebounds, is a key reserve in the post.

Series With Boston College

> Boston College captured its first-ever victory at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in three tries earlier this season with an 80-76 overtime win on Jan. 20. Eight of the games in the short series have been decided by less than 10 points, six of them by four points or less, and two by overtime.

> Tech won the only regular-season meeting between the two teams each of the past two years, 74-60 in Atlanta in 2006-07 and 86-78 in Chestnut Hill in 2007-08.

> The teams split two meetings in 2005-06, each team winning at home in BC’s first season in the ACC.

> The four meetings in Boston have been played at three different venues. The Jan. 29, 2005 game was Tech’s first visit to the Conte Forum, BC’s current home court. The first game in the series on Dec. 31, 1946, was played at Boston Arena, and the teams also played in the Boston Garden on Jan. 19, 1980.

> Prior to the 2005-06 season, the teams met four times on neutral floors, including one outside the United States, a 65-62 overtime win for the Yellow Jackets in the 1986 Suntory Ball in Tokyo, Japan.

> The teams have met twice in NCAA Tournament competition, both of them won by Tech. The Yellow Jackets downed the Eagles, 103-89, in the 1996 Southeast Regional second round in Orlando, and eliminated the Eagles two seasons ago, 57-54 in the second round in Milwaukee.

Clinch Shooting at Record Pace

Senior guard Lewis Clinch has hit 27 three-point field goals in 53 attempts over his last four games (50.9 percent), the most prolific four-game stretch in Georgia Tech history. Even Dennis Scott, who holds the Tech career mark for threes, three of the top four season marks and two of the top three single-game totals, never had a four-game stretch like this.

A check through the books reveals these four-game stretches:
Dennis Scott – 22 in 1988-89, includes Tech record of 11 vs. Houston
Dennis Scott – 21 in 1989-90, includes 7 each vs. Minnesota and UNLV
Dennis Scott – 19 in 1988-89, includes 9 vs. North Carolina
Dennis Scott – 19 in 1989-90, includes 8 vs. Pittsburgh
Dennis Scott – 19 in 1989-90, includes 7 vs. North Carolina
Fred Vinson – 17 in 1994-95, includes 8 vs. North Carolina
Tony Akins – 16 in 1999-2000, includes 9 vs. Florida State
Drew Barry – 15 in 1995-96, includes 9 vs. North Carolina

Clinch’s Four-Game Stretch Best in 11 Years

Lewis Clinch has scored more than 20 points in four straight games, something that hasn’t been done by a Georgia Tech player since 1998. Clinch, a senior from Cordele, Ga., has scored 24 vs. Wake Forest, 27 vs. Clemson, 22 vs. North Carolina, and a career-high 30 vs. Miami. Three of those teams were ranked among the nation’s top 13 at the time the games were played.

Over the four games, Clinch has made 48.1 percent of his field goal attempts (37-for-77) and 50.9 percent of his threes (27-for-53). he also has assisted on 17 other baskets and averaged 4.5 rebounds.

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