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Jackets Host Hokies in Search of First ACC Win

Jan. 18, 2008

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech hosts Atlantic Coast Conference rival Virginia Tech at 1 p.m. Saturday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, attempting to halt a three-game losing streak and earn its first ACC win of the season. Saturday’s game ends a brief two-game homestand, and the Yellow Jackets play their next two games, and five of their next seven, on the road.

The game will be regionally televised on the Raycom/ACC network, and will air in Atlanta on WATL-TV.

See a complete listing of affiliates carrying the game

Radio coverage of the game is provided on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790), WREK-FM (91.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1). Tech’s broadcast also can be heard on XM Radio Ch. 190.

he Yellow Jackets are 7-9 for the season and 0-3 in the ACC, having lost to Florida State, No. 25 Miami and No. 1 North Carolina to begin their ACC slate. Five of the Yellow Jackets’ losses this year have come to teams in the current top 25 (No. 1 Kansas, No. 3 Kansas, No. 13 Indiana, No. 13 Vanderbilt, No. 25 Miami), three of those on the road. The Jackets are 3-4 at home this year.

Virginia Tech, 11-6 overall and 2-1 in the ACC, comes to Atlanta on a three-game winning streak, including ACC wins in the past week over Maryland and Virginia. The Yellow Jackets and Hokies have one common non-conference opponent, UNC Greensboro, whom the Hokies defeated, 67-39.

Tech has played a strong schedule thus far, posting a schedule strength rank of 17 according to this week’s RPI released by the NCAA. The teams Tech has lost to have a combined record of 121-29, including the aforementioned top-25 teams who have a combined mark of 80-4.

Tech is below .500 through 16 games for the first time since the 2001-02 season, and is 0-3 in the ACC for the first time since then. The Yellow Jackets were 7-9 through 16 games that year and fell to 7-13 before rallying to a 15-16 final mark.

Lethal Weapon 3 Reunited

Georgia Tech’s famed “Lethal Weapon 3” trio of Kenny Anderson, Brian Oliver and Dennis Scott, the driving force behind the Yellow Jackets’ 1990 Atlantic Coast Conference championship and run to the Institute’s first Final Four appearance, will be reunited on the basketball court Saturday for the first time when Tech conducts its annual Lettermen’s Game.

The contest will take place following Tech’s 1 p.m. game with Virginia Tech on the main floor at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

Anderson was a freshman point guard, Dennis Scott a junior forward, and Brian Oliver the senior leader of that Yellow Jackets’ team, which went 28-7. Tech defeated NC State, Duke and Virginia to capture the ACC title, then downed East Tennessee State, LSU, Michigan State and Minnesota to make it to the Final Four in Denver, where the Jackets fell to eventual national champion UNLV.

All three are recently retired from professional basketball and now live in the Atlanta area. Anderson is the head coach of the CBA’s Atlanta Krunk. Scott is the general manager of the ABA’s Atlanta Vision, serves as a color analyst on Atlanta Hawks radio broadcasts and has a local radio show. Oliver, who retired after a long career in Europe and received his degree in building construction last August, recently began a stint as a studio analyst for CSS’s “Talkin’ Hoops” TV show.

Malcolm Mackey, a freshman forward on the 1990 team, also will be on hand Saturday for the Lettermen’s Game along with such standouts as Drew Barry, Roger Kaiser, Lenny Cohen and Joe Helms.

Series vs. Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech has won seven of nine all-time meetings with Georgia Tech, including its first meeting with the Yellow Jackets as a member of the ACC. The Hokies have won all three games played in Atlanta, including a 73-65 victory on their last visit in 2007.

Georgia Tech won the teams’ only ACC Tournament encounter, a 73-54 victory in the first round of the 2005 tournament in Washington, D.C. Tech, which outscored the Hokies 43-29 in the second half and shot 54.9 percent from the floor in the game, went on to reach the tournament finals.

The Hokies, led by future NBA star Dell Curry, held off the Jackets and their future All-Americans Mark Price and John Salley, 77-74, in the teams’ first meeting at Cassell Coliseum in 1984. It was Tech’s first post-season game in 13 years and a precursor to the ACC Championship season a year later.

Georgia Tech’s only other victory over Virginia Tech occurred on Dec. 27, 1962, a 73-72 overtime triumph at the Gator Bowl Tournament that was part of an 11-0 start for the Yellow Jackets. Tech went on to finish the season 21-5. Both teams were ranked in the UPI poll at the time, Georgia Tech at No. 18, Virginia Tech at No. 14.

Both teams were members of the old Metro Conference, but not at the same time. Georgia Tech was a member for three seasons from 1975-76 through 1977-78 before leaving to join the ACC. Virginia Tech joined the league for the 1978-79 season.

Quick Look at Tech

Georgia Tech’s starting lineup for the last two games has included freshman Moe Miller at point guard and junior D’Andre Bell at one wing. Miller, who replaced Matt Causey in the lineup, had started Tech’s first two games before injuring his back in the Virgin Islands, and Bell, who replaced Lewis Clinch, had started four games at point guard in Miller’s absence and now is playing more on the wing as Miller and Causey have developed into more of a tandem.

Seniors Anthony Morrow (wing) and Jeremis Smith (big forward) have started all 16 games for the Yellow Jackets, while freshman Gani Lawal has started the last nine games at center.

Regardless of which player starts, Miller and Causey both play significant minutes at the point, combining to average 11.2 points and 6.7 assists per game. Despite playing less than 17 minutes a game, the 6-0 Causey ranks eighth in the ACC in assists and fifth in assist-turnover ratio. Miller, a 6-1 rookie from Memphis, Tenn., has accumulated 22 assists and seven turnovers in the last seven games.

Morrow, a 6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C., who is the Yellow Jackets’ top returning scorer from 2006-07, currently ranks 10th in the ACC with 14.9 points a game. One of Tech’s best all-time three-point shooters with 216 for his career, Morrow has hit 46.5 percent of his three-point attempts this season, and has averaged 15.7 points in Tech’s ACC games.

Bell, a 6-5 junior, provides good physical defense on the perimeter and can score at times (15 points vs. Florida State). He averages 5.7 points for the season and shoots 49.2 percent from the floor.

Smith, the team captain and a 6-8 forward from Fort Worth, Texas, is Tech’s third-leading scorer at 10.1 points per game and its leading rebounder at 7.2 per game (10th in the ACC), Smith has averaged 15.0 points and 9.3 rebounds in ACC games thus far, including a 21-point, 10-rebound effort at Miami.

Lawal, a 6-8 rookie from Riverdale, Ga., averages 6.9 points anf 3.9 rebounds while leading the Jackets in field goal percentage at 62.5 rebounds. Lawal snapped a two-game scoreless streak with 13 points and six rebounds against North Carolina.

Backcourt reserves — Clinch, a 6-3 guard from Cordele, Ga., has reached double-digits in scoring in 12 of the 16 games this year, including 11 at Georgia and 13 at Miami. He is Tech’s second-leading scorer at 12.4 points per game, but has struggled in ACC games (8.3 ppg, 31.0 pct. FG). Six-foot-4 freshman Lance Storrs of Decatur, Ga., averaging 1.9 points per game, had his best game of the season against Centenary (8 pts.), but has not played in any ACC games.

Frontcourt reserves — Hewitt can go to 6-8 sophomore Zack Peacock of Miami, Fla., and 6-10 junior Alade Aminu of Stone Mountain, Ga. Peacock is Tech’s fourth-leading scorer (8.9) and rebounder (4.2), and posted his first career double-double (14 pts., 11 reb.) against North Carolina. Aminu, who started Tech’s first seven games, has averaged 7.5 points and 4.6 rebounds while hitting 54.3 percent of his shots from the floor. Tech also has 6-11 red-shirt freshman Brad Sheehan of Latham, N.Y., who has not played since Dec. 27.

Leftovers from Tech-UNC

Georgia Tech led by as many as six points in the second half before the Tar Heels chipped away and held off two last-possession shot attempts by the Yellow Jackets. Tech stood toe-to-toe with Carolina, scoring 22 points off 17 offensive rebounds, working the ball inside while also hitting eight three-point attempts. Defensively, Tech forced the Tar Heels into 15 turnovers and 2-for-10 shooting from three-point range.

Led by Jeremis Smith’s 15 points, four Yellow Jackets scored in double figures, including Zack Peacock, who recorded his first double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. It was Peacock who took the last two shots for the Yellow Jackets, getting an offensive rebound after the first attempt was blocked and misfiring from close range on the second.

Smith, Peacock and freshman Gani Lawal combined for 42 of Tech’s 82 points, hitting 17 of 30 shots from the floor, and totalled 24 rebounds, 13 on the offensive glass.

Tech’s 12 turnovers were the second-fewest committed this year, and fewest in an ACC game.

Point guards Moe Miller and Matt Causey combined for 15 points, 10 assists and four turnovers.

Quoting Coach Hewitt

Following the North Carolina loss — “As I just told the team, the disappointing thing would be if we come back Saturday and don’t play with that same effort.”

On Tech’s point guard play — “You’ve seen Moe Miller grow up and that’s huge for us because he’s a guy that can really take care of the basketball and make some plays. Matt [Causey] does a great job, but offensively and defensively we are more dangerous with Miller at the point. Now obviously there is no substitute for Causey’s experience down the stretch, but he did a nice job tonight. Our point guards combined for 10 assists and just four turnovers (against North Carolina). I think that’s a pretty good showing out of that position.”


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