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Cagers Re-open ACC Slate With Clemson

Jan. 3, 2002

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech finishes off a five-game homestand Saturday by resuming its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule against Clemson at 12 noon at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center.

The game will be regionally televised on Fox Sports Net South and the Sunshine Network, with radio coverage on the Georgia Tech/ISP Network and WQXI-AM (790) in Atlanta.

The Yellow Jackets (7-7) returned to the winning track Wednesday with an 86-68 victory at home over Cornell, while Clemson (9-5) dropped a 68-65 decision to Yale in the other half of the ACC-Ivy League Challenge. Both teams lost their first conference games on Dec. 2, Tech by an 83-77 score at North Carolina and Clemson, 96-80 at Duke.

“I thought we showed some signs of doing what we need to do,” said head coach Paul Hewitt of Wednesday’s game with Cornell. We got back on the glass better. We need to work on some things to become more consistent as a basketball team.”

“It’s reasonable to expect that we’re going to play better as the games come. I think we’ve made some improvement from day one to now, and we’ve got to keep doing that, especially with so many new players. I’m learning these guys also. There are things I’m learning about this team that I’ve got to pay close attention to in order to get the most out of them.”

Tech has been balanced offensively of late, but is led primarily by the backcourt tandem of 5-11 Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.) and 6-4 Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.). Akins, Tech’s point guard who ranks among the Top 10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring and assists, leads Tech in both categories with 15.9 points and 5.7 assists, both career-high averages. Lewis is Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures with 13.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He has hit 45.1 percent of his three-point attempts, best on the team, while Akins is coming off a 6-for-8 night against Cornell and is hitting 41.6 percent from behind the arc.

The rest of Tech’s starting five for Clemson is expected to be 6-5 Clarence Moore (So., Norco, La.) and 6-7 Ed Nelson (Fr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at the forwards and 6-8 Robert Brooks (So., Saginaw, Mich.) at center.

Moore, averaging 10 points over his last six games, averages 7.9 points and 5.0 rebounds. Nelson scored a career-high 18 vs. IUPUI and averages 6.1 points and a team-leading 6.9 rebounds. Brooks, who averages 5.5 points and 6.5 rebounds for the season, is averaging 9.0 points and 7.9 rebounds in the last seven games.

B.J. Elder (Fr., Madison, Ga.) and Halston Lane (So., Oak Ridge., Tenn.) are Tech’s top scorers off the bench, Elder at 9.7 and Lane at 9.2 per game. Also coming off the bench are 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), who has missed two games with a hip injury but is averaging 7.7 points and 3.4 rebounds, and 6-5 guard Anthony McHenry (Fr., Birmingham, Ala.), 2.1 ppg, who scored 13 vs. Cornell.

Tech Series vs. Clemson

Georgia Tech took the upper hand in the long history with Clemson last year by defeating the Tigers twice to take a 49-48 lead in the overall series. Tech swept a season series from the Tigers last year for the first time since the 1985-86 season, and won for the first time at Clemson since 1993.

The 97 all-time meetings are 28 more than Tech has with any other ACC member. Tech has a 21-11 lead over Clemson at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and the home team has won 25 of the last 29 regular-season meetings.

The Jackets and Tigers hooked up in one of the wildest games in the Jackets’ ACC history in a 111-108 victory last Jan. 24 at Clemson. The point total matched a Tech record for an ACC game. The teams combined for 31 three-point field goals, with the oddity that Tony Akins did not make one of them and went scoreless in the game.

Tech completed the sweep on Senior Day at home, 85-64, as Akins and Marvin Lewis chipped in with 14 points apiece. In the two games combined last year, Tech hit 27 of 57 three-point attempts.

Last Time Out

Georgia Tech snapped a two-game losing streak with an 86-68 victory at home over Cornell Wednesday night. Tony Akins fell two rebounds short of a triple-double with 22 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, and hit his first six three-point tries on the way to a 6-for-8 night behind the arc.

Four other Jackets scored in double figures – Marvin Lewis and Anthony McHenry with 13 each, B.J. Elder with 12 and Clarence Moore with 11.

Tech matched its season low of eight turnovers against 23 assists, while outrebounding the Big Red, 49-31. The Jackets shot 41.7 percent from three-point range

Akins Just Misses Triple-Double

Tony Akins missed by just two rebounds of becoming the fourth Georgia Tech player to achieve a “triple-double” Wednesday night against Cornell.

Akins recorded his fourth 20-point game and his third 10-assist game this season, and his eight rebounds matched a career best.

Tech’s previous triple doubles were recorded by Bruce Dalrymple vs. Charlotte in 1986, Dennis Scott vs. Alcorn State in 1987, and Kenny Anderson vs. Pittsburgh in 1989.

Tech in the Thrillerdome

Georgia Tech’s win over Cornell Wednesday night was the 450th for the Yellow Jackets at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center since the facility opened for the 1956-57 season.

Tech is playing its 46th season at the Thrillerdome, and the Jackets have a record of 450-154 (.745) in the building, which opened Nov. 30, 1956 with a 71-61 Tech loss to Duke. Since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, Tech is 212-53 (.805) in its on-campus home, but has struggled at home this season with a 4-3 record to this point.

Georgia Tech is 120-8 against non-conference opposition at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, an impressive mark indeed. But three of those eight losses have occurred this season to Penn, Tulane and IUPUI. From 1981 through last season, the only non-ACC teams to win at the Thrillerdome were Georgia (Dec. 6, 2000), Penn State (March 18, 1998), the College of Charleston (Jan. 16, 1993), Louisville (Jan. 15, 1989), and Richmond (Dec. 22, 1987).

A Balanced Attack

Only two Yellow Jackets, Tony Akins (15.9 ppg) and Marvin Lewis (13.2 ppg), are averaging in double-figures for the season, but Georgia Tech has been balanced offensively for the past month, placing at least four players in double figures for eight consecutive games.

Eight different players are averaging better than five points per game, including six who are scoring 7.7 points per game or more. Nine different Yellow Jackets have scored in double figures at least once this season.

Overall, Tech has averaged 77.6 points per game this season, just 3/10 of a point below last season’s average against non-conference opponents.

Offense Clicking Since Las Vegas

Georgia Tech has emerged from the offensive slump it experienced in the Las Vegas Invitational and against Wisconsin, averaging 83.0 points in the last eight games. That includes 96 points against 13th-ranked Syracuse on Dec. 16, its highest scoring output since 97 in the season opener against Florida A&M, 92 points vs. IUPUI and 86 vs. Cornell.

The key to Tech’s success has been the ability to hit the three-point shot. Tech hit 17-34 (50.0%) from three-point range in the Yellow Jackets’ back-to-back victories over Syracuse and Davidson, but managed just 26 percent (20-of-77) in the next three games. The Jackets hit 10 of 24 (41.7 percent) against Cornell.

Elder and Lane Hot off the Bench

Freshman B.J. Elder has scored in double digits in the last four games, averaging 13.7 points and hitting 46.7 percent of his shots (21-of-45) during that stretch.

Halston Lane, who started three games before returning to reserve duty against IUPUI, has scored in double figures in four of his last five games and six of the last eight, averaging 10.8 points in the last eight games. He has hit 15 of 33 three-pointers (45.5 percent) in that stretch.

Elder and Lane are Tech’s top two scorers off the bench at 9.7 and 9.2 points per game, respectively.

Tech Holding Its Own On The Boards

Rebounding and size were pre-season concerns for head coach Paul Hewitt, but the Yellow Jackets have gotten off to a good start on the boards despite having no player taller than 6-8 for the last eight games. Tech has outrebounded its opponents by an average of more than six per game (42.3 to 35.9), and has beaten nine of 14 opponents on the boards.

Even with 6-11 Alvin Jones leading the ACC in rebounding a year ago, Tech struggled as a team, being outrebounded 40-to-37.5 for the season.

More impressive is the fact that Tech has averaged 16.7 offensive rebounds, which leads the ACC. Three Tech players – Robert Brooks (2.9), Ed Nelson (2.6) and Clarence Moore (2.4) – rank among the ACC’s top 15 in offensive rebounds.

Taking Better Care of the Ball

Despite its struggles in other areas, Georgia Tech has taken better care of the ball over the last six games, averaging just 13.2 turnovers, including a season-low eight in each of the last two games against IUPUI and Cornell.

Tech averaged 19.1 turnovers over its first eight games, including three games with more than 20.

Shuffling the Lineup

Facing a roster with five new scholarship players, head coach Paul Hewitt used his fifth different starting lineup vs. IUPUI, tinkering to find that right combination. The backcourt duo of Tony Akins and Marvin Lewis are the only players to have started all 14 games this season, while eight different players have started at least one game.

Sophomore swingman Halston Lane cracked the starting five for the first time in his career against Davidson, while freshman Ed Nelson came off the bench for the first time this season. Nelson returned to the lineup for IUPUI and also started vs. Cornell. Clarence Moore has started 12 games, Nelson has started 11, Robert Brooks has started nine, Luke Schenscher five, Lane three, and Anthony McHenry has started two contests.

Despite who starts the game, Hewitt is still using a nine-man rotation while Schenscher is out with a foot injury (see below). Counting Schenscher, 10 different Yellow Jackets are averaging at least 10 minutes a game.

Bench Providing a Spark for Tech

Playing with a 10-man rotation (nine now with the absence of Schenscher) since the arrival of head coach Paul Hewitt, Georgia Tech has come to rely more heavily on its bench. They have provided the Jackets some real spark offensively through the early going this season.

Tech’s reserves have contributed 32.8 points per game in the last four outings, and also scored 46 points Dec. 1 at North Carolina and 40 vs. Florida A&M in the season opener.

This season, Tech has gotten 27.4 points per game from its bench, roughly 35 percent of its total scoring output of 77.6 points per game. Tech has had a double-figure scorer off the bench in 10 games this season.

Last year, Tech received 20.4 points per game from its reserves, 25 percent of its total scoring output.

Tech Stronger at the Line

Georgia Tech has shown modest improvement this season from the free throw line (69.0 percent), and have six players over 70 percent from the stripe.

Marvin Lewis leads at 87.0 percent, followed by Akins at 81.8 percent, Halston Lane at 76.3 percent, B.J. Elder at 76.0 percent, Robert Brooks at 73.1 and Clarence Moore at 71.1.

Besides freshman Ed Nelson, who has struggled at 46.3 percent on 41 attempts, second most on the team, Tech has an aggregate free throw percentage of 72.8 percent.

Akins At The Point

Tony Akins, who made his 100th career start vs. Cornell, has been Georgia Tech’s most consistent offensive player, scoring in double digits in 12 of 14 games and leading the Jackets in scoring at 15.9 points per game (7th in the ACC) while averaging 5.7 assists (4th in the ACC).

The 5-11 senior has made 41 percent of his three-point attempts this season and has a 1.74-1 assist-turnover ratio. His 5.7 assists per game are a career high, more than a full assist better than his freshman-year rate of 4.5. He has had three double-digit assist games this year, including Tech’s last outing against Cornell.

Akins ranks seventh in career assists (464), having passed Kenny Anderson for that spot in the Cornell game, and 9th in steals (139). He has 1,342 career points, jumping to 18th place in Tech history after beginning the year in 28th. He needs 22 points to move past Bobby Kimmel (1,363 points, 1954-57) for 17th place.

Akins For Three

Tony Akins has made his mark as one of the top three-point shooters in Georgia Tech history. Only Dennis Scott (351-for-831) and Travis Best (258-for-656) rank ahead of Akins on Tech’s career lists for three-point field goals made and attempted.

Akins, who is 250-for-677 in his career (36.9 percent), has risen to 10th place on the all-time ACC list for three-point field goals made. In his junior and senior years taken together, Akins has posted an accuracy rate of 41.8 percent.

Scott, who set his records in three seasons, shot 42.2 percent from three-point range in his career.

Lewis Finds His Mark Inside the Arc

Marvin Lewis has already established himself as one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC. But over the last six games, Lewis has made his mark from two-point range.

While struggling to just a 5-for-20 mark on three-point attempts in the last six games, Lewis has made 21 of 34 two point attempts (.618) in that stretch. He continues to show his smooth stroke at the free throw line, making 22 of his last 24 attempts from the charity stripe and shooting 87.0 percent for the season.

Lewis still leads Tech at 45.1 percent from three-point range, and his overall rate has improved to 46.2, second on the team.

As a freshman last year, Lewis averaged 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds, ranking third among ACC freshmen in both categories, and made the ACC All-Freshman team and the Academic All-ACC team.

Brooks Provides a Lift for Jackets

Robert Brooks may not be 7-feet tall, but he has walked tall for the Yellow Jacket since joining the starting lineup for the Wisconsin game on Nov. 28.

The 6-8 sophomore began to heat up in his third start against Georgia on Dec. 9, and has responded with 9.0 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in the last seven games, including double-figure scoring efforts against the Bulldogs (13 and 10), Syracuse (17 and 8) and Wofford (12 and 9).

Head coach Paul Hewitt inserted Brooks in the lineup Dec. 28 against Wisconsin, and the 6-8 sophomore has started the last nine contests.

“Mo” Better Moore

Sophomore forward Clarence Moore, who broke a bone in his left foot in early September of last year and played just five games last season, has returned to health and is in the starting lineup for the Yellow Jackets.

After a two-game absence from the starting lineup, Clarence Moore got back in the lineup for Georgia (Dec. 9) and responded with a career-high 20 points with 7 assists against Syracuse and a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) in the following game against Davidson.

The 6-5 sophomore earned ACC co-Player of the Week honors on Dec. 17 for his 20-point, 7-assist performance against 13th-ranked Syracuse, and for the defensive job he did on the Orangemen’s Preston Shumpert, holding him to 13 points and just 4 field goals in 15 attempts.

Currently averaging 7.9 points per game, he is the Jackets’ third-leading rebounder at 5.0 per game with 34 on the offensive glass (36 on the defensive end).

The 6-5 Moore sustained the injury in a pickup game on Sept. 3, 2000, and underwent two surgical procedures, one in September and one in February, before being cleared to play in August. His request for a medical hardship was approved by the NCAA, and he has three years of eligibility remaining.

Known as “Mo,” Moore averaged 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 30 games as a freshman in 1999-2000, including 10.2 points and 8.6 rebounds in five starts.

Georgia Tech (7-7, 0-1) vs. Clemson (9-5, 0-1)January 5, 2002 o 12 noonAlexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald's Center o Atlanta, Ga.

TV: Fox Sports Net South, Mike Hogewood, pbp, Phil Ford, color Radio: WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1), Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 7-7, 0-1 ACC (H: 4-3, A: 0-2, N: 3-2) Series vs. Clemson: Tech leads 49-48 Vs. Clemson at AMC: Tech leads 21-11 Last year’s meetings: Tech won, 111-108, at Clemson, Tech won, 85-64, in Atlanta Hewitt Record: 90-47 (.654), 5th season Hewitt at Tech: 24-20 (.535), 2nd season Last game: Jan. 2, Tech d. Cornell, 86-68, at AMC Next game: Jan. 10, at Duke, 9 p.m. [ESPN]

Probable Starters F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 7.9 ppg 5.0 rpg F 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 6.1 ppg 6.9 rpg C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 5.5 ppg 6.5 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 15.9 ppg 5.7 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 13.2 ppg 4.9 rpg

Top Reserves G 1 B.J. Elder 6-3 Fr. 9.7 ppg 2.2 rpg F 33 Halston Lane 6-5 So. 9.2 ppg 4.0 rpg F 55 Anthony McHenry 6-6 Fr. 2.1 ppg 1.4 rpg F 2 Isma’il Muhammad 6-5 Fr. 7.7 ppg 3.3 rpg

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