Feb. 12, 2007
Winners of its last three games, Georgia Tech plays two important road games in the Atlantic Coast Conference this week, beginning with an 8 p.m. contest against Florida State Tuesday night. The Yellow Jackets then visit Duke at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Tuesday’s game is being televised on the Raycom/Lincoln Financial ACC regional network, and can be seen locally on WATL-TV (Ch. 46). Other markets in Georgia airing the telecast include Albany (WSWG-DT), Columbus (WTLZ) and Dalton/Chattanooga, Tenn. (WDNN). ACCSelect.com also carries the TV broadcast online.
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.
Tech is 16-8 overall, 4-6 in the ACC, following Sunday’s 65-52 victory over Connecticut at the Georgia Dome. The Yellow Jackets, who previously had defeated Clemson (80-62) and NC State (74-65) are in eighth place in the conference standings, one game out of fifth place. Tech has lost is last 17 games on opponents’ home courts, and is looking for its first road win since Feb. 26, 2005.
The Yellow Jackets are 4-3 this year against conference foes ahead of them in the ACC standings, 1-3 against teams tied or below them. Five of Tech’s remaining six ACC games are against teams ahead of it in the current standings, finishing the regular season against the teams that occupy the top three spots (Virginia, North Carolina, Boston College).
Florida State, 17-8 overall and 5-6 in the ACC, dropped a 68-67 homecourt decision to Boston College Sunday, its second straight loss after a three-game winning streak.
Series vs. Florida State
> Florida State leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech, 29-26, but Tech has won seven of the last 10 meetings and 16 of the last 25, including this season’s first meeting, an 88-80 Tech victory on Jan. 13 in Atlanta. The win improved Tech’s record to 6-0 over the Seminoles in Atlanta under head coach Paul Hewitt.
> Tech lost last year’s meeting in Tallahassee, 80-79, after holding a 14-point lead in the second half.
> Since FSU joined the ACC, Tech is 16-15 against the Seminoles. Florida State won the first six in a row, Tech followed by winning five straight, and is 11-9 against the Seminoles since then.
> In those 31 games, 14 have been decided by four points or less, 21 by 10 points or less. One of those games went to double-overtime, which the Yellow Jackets won 111-108 on Feb. 11, 1999 in Tallahassee.
> The teams have split the regular-season series six of the last nine years except the 2001-02 and 2004-05 seasons, when Tech won both games. In that span, FSU also won the schools’ only ACC Tournament meeting in 2000.
> Tech is 8-4 against FSU with Paul Hewitt as its head coach, and is 5-3 against the Seminoles under their head coach Leonard Hamilton. Tech is 6-3 against Hamilton overall, with a victory over his Miami team in December of 1997.
> Tech is 9-16 in games played in Tallahassee, including a 6-8 mark at the Donald L. Tucker Center, formerly known as the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. Tech’s 111-108 win against the Seminoles in Tallahassee (in two OTs) on Feb. 11, 1999 established the highest scoring game Tech has had with any ACC opponent. The Jackets defeated Clemson by the same score (in regulation) on Jan. 24, 2001.
> Tech and Florida State were both members of the old Metro Conference from 1976-78, and the Seminoles won three of those four meetings.
Market Up for Jackets
In a season that has seen several twists and turns, Georgia Tech is currently on an upswing, having won its last three games following a four-game losing streak. The Yellow Jackets are eighth in the ACC standings with six games remaining in conference play, five of which come against teams ahead of them in the standings. Only one of those teams (North Carolina) is ranked in the AP top 25.
The Yellow Jackets began the season with five straight wins, including wins over Purdue and No. 11 Memphis in the first two rounds of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. Then came three losses in the next four games to UCLA (Maui championship game), Miami and Vanderbilt as Tech approached fall semester final exams.
Coming out of finals, Tech won seven of its next eight games, including homecourt wins over state-rival Georgia, 11th-ranked Duke and Florida State, playing with renewed vigor on the defensive end of the floor. Tech has won its last three games with the same defensive energy.
Quick Look at Tech
Georgia Tech has a solid nucleus of veteran players, but the Yellow Jackets have started three freshmen in 15 of their 24 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 13.9 points (18th in the ACC) as well as 5.6 assists per game (third in the ACC). Crittenton has made 42.9 percent of his three-point tries overall this season, has averaged a team-high 15.4 points in Tech’s ACC games (10th in the ACC), and has played an average of 34.9 minutes in those games.
Young, a 6-8 small forward, has been around the team lead in scoring all season, currently at a team-best 14.3 points per game (16th in the ACC). The Memphis, Tenn., native has averaged 14.6 points in Tech’s ACC games in 2007, and has made 50 percent of his shots from the floor in conference play.
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 8.7 points and 5.5 rebounds. He leads Tech in field goal percentage (60.3 percent) and has 11 double-digit scoring efforts.
Since returning to the starting lineup for the Centenary game on Dec. 18, Dickey has posted eight double-figure efforts and has made 63 percent of his field goal attempts in ACC games (58.1 percent overall). Dickey averages 8.1 points and 5.5 rebounds overall this season.
Anthony Morrow, a 6-5 junior who has reached double figures in 10 of Tech’s last 12 games, has started the last three against Clemson, NC State and Connecticut. The Charlotte, N.C., native has averaged 10.2 points in ACC games, third-best on the team, and 9.2 points per game for the season.
Off the bench, Mario West, a 6-5 senior guard from Douglasville, Ga. (4.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.8 steals), has been the Jackets’ catalyst on defense and logged important backup minutes at point guard, and has come through on the offensive end in three of Tech’s bigger wins this season. Tech has gotten a big lift in its last three games from 6-10 post player Alade Aminu, a sophomore from Stone Mountain, who scored 10 points against Clemson and NC State after not having appeared in any of Tech’s first eight ACC games.
Red-shirt freshman Mouhammad Faye, a 6-10 forward from Dakar, Senegal, who has started eight games, has averaged 4.8 points and 3.3 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. Also averaging double-digit minutes is 6-8 freshman Zach Peacock of Miami, who started the first nine games of the season and averages 6.2 points and 3.3 rebounds (50 pct. FG) as Tech’s backup center and power forward, and 6-5 sophomore D’Andre Bell of Los Angeles, who gave Tech a spark in the last two games with 13 points and good defense.
Quoting head coach Paul Hewitt
On recent spark from bench players – “We continue to get some strong contributions from our bench. Yesterday, D’Andre Bell came off the bench and scored six points in the first half when we were struggling to get ourselves started. That sparked us to a nice win. Our young guys are playing much more consistent basketball, especially on the defensive end.”
On Tech’s resurgence since Wake Forest game – “I think it’s just coming around for us. The contributions of Alade Aminu and D’Andre Bell off the bench can’t be overlooked in our last three games. They’ve come off the bench and provided a lot of energy, and gotten us back in a defensive mode.”
On two road games coming up – “You’re in February, and every game has some added importance.”
On looking down the bench to find players to spark your team – “I think it speaks to the parity in college basketball. It’s getting harder and harder to win on the road. There are so many talented players in the United States. Not only are there more athletes coming into our sport, but you also have kids coming from all around the world to play NCAA Division I basketball. Also, we are a younger team like everybody else, and as a coaching staff we’re still learning what we have and how guys fit better into roles on the team.”
Do you think your road record will be thrown against you in a committee meeting? – “You certainly think it could be, but when you look at who we have left to play, who knows? The thing for us is just to play well tomorrow night, that’s all we’re trying to focus on. They (players) are aware of what our goals are, but more importantly, they’re also aware that in order to be a successful team, we have to do some things that have escaped us in a couple of stretches this season. There were two stretches where we just didn’t defend.”
Crittenton Making Case for Rookie of the Year
Javaris Crittenton, despite some fits and starts in his role as point guard on Georgia Tech’s basketball team, has begun to effectively take over the Yellow Jackets’ floor leadership of late.
Following some well-documented struggles in Georgia Tech’s four-game losing streak, which head coach Paul Hewitt attributed more to the Yellow Jackets’ stagnant offense in general, the 6-5 freshman has scored 60 points in Tech’s last three games, all victories, including a career-high 26 points against Clemson and 21 against NC State. The Atlanta native also has averaged 6.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds, taken 11 steals and gone 16-for-18 at the free throw line.
Crittenton also put together a three-game stretch of ACC games against Clemson, Duke and Florida State in early January in which he averaged 18.7 points (59.4 pct. FG) and 5.3 assists. Tech defeated Duke and FSU and lost to Clemson on a last-second shot.
> Currently, IN ACC GAMES ONLY, Crittenton is the highest-ranked freshman in scoring (15.4 ppg), assists (4.8 per game), steals (2.4 per game) and free throw percentage (85.4 pct.). He is third in field goal percentage (46.0 pct.).
> Four of Crittenton’s five 20-point games this season have come in ACC games (the other was Purdue on Maui).
Jackets Back to Physical Defense
Georgia Tech has built its current three-game winning streak with strong, physical defense, holding Clemson, NC State and Connecticut each to 65 points or fewer. The 52 points by Connecticut Sunday were the fewest allowed to a major conference opponent this year, and the Huskies’ 30.9-percent shooting from the floor was the second-lowest figure for any Tech opponent this year (only Troy shot worse, 30.3 pct.).
> In the three wins, Tech has held the opposition to 39.7-percent shooting from the floor, 28.3 percent from three-point range.
> Tech has a 45-to-42 assist-turnover ratio in the three games combined. The Yellow Jackets have forced 56 turnovers, 36 of them directly by steal, and have a 35-to-29 average rebound advantage.
> Tech went on an 18-4 run over a seven-minute stretch in the first half against Clemson on Feb. 3, then held Clemson to 36.4-percent shooting (3-of-15 on threes) in the second half, never allowing its lead to fall below 10.
> Against NC State, Tech blanked the Wolfpack 18-0 over a stretch of 4:05 in the second half, and held them without a field goal for more than 14 minutes.
> Tech outscored Connecticut 20-6 over the first 12:34 of the second half in Sunday’s game, while holding the Huskies to 28.1-percent from the for in the half.
> Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun – “Georgia Tech came and locked us up defensively and we couldn’t make a basket. They continued to do that for virtually the entire game … Looking at them on tape the last couple of games, they have played much better defense. Paul has them rebounding better … They defended the hell out of us and didn’t let us score … If you match both interior defenses, it would probably be a wash. But what they did was locked us up and wouldn’t let us run stuff.”
> NC State coach Sidney Lowe – “They picked up their intensity, defensively. There was some frustration on our parts for a couple of our guys. They were complaining about a couple of things. That’s tough to overcome. You try to fight through it, play hard and play the right way, but they got physical. It was a very physical ballgame. … But you have to give them some credit for the way that they played. They took it to the edge in terms of what they needed to do to win this ballgame.”
> Clemson coach Oliver Purnell – “I thought that Georgia Tech took it to us from a standpoint that they played with a little more energy. I thought that they did a great job on the backboards, and overall, they played better.”