Jan. 30, 2009
ATLANTA – Looking to break into the win column in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Georgia Tech faces its second consecutive top-10 team Saturday when sixth-ranked Wake Forest visits Alexander Memorial Coliseum in a regionally-televised (Raycom) at 12 noon.
The game will air in Atlanta on WATL-TV (Ch. 36). Click here for a complete list of affiliates carrying the game in the ACC region.
Radio coverage is provided by the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and the broadcast can be heard in the Atlanta area on flagship station WQXI-AM (790) and WTSH-FM (107.1). The Tech broadcast can be heard nationally on XM Radio Ch. 190.
Tickets for this game and all remaining home games are available starting at $30 online at RamblinWreck.com/tickets. Tickets can also be purchased on game nights beginning 90 minutes before tipoff at gate 1 of Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Tech (9-10 overall, 0-6 ACC), looking to snap a five-game losing streak, is the only ACC team without a win in conference play. The Yellow Jackets have dropped four of their ACC games after holding late leads (Virginia, Maryland, NC State, Boston College), and lost three of those in overtime, including its last home game against Boston College. Tech’s only win in its last seven games was a 67-62 homecourt win over Georgia on Jan. 6.
Wake Forest (17-1, 4-1 ACC) won its first 16 games this season and rose to No. 1 in the national rankings before losing at home to Virginia Tech on Jan. 21, then knocked off No. 1 Duke Wednesday night in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons are 4-0 on the road this year, including both of their ACC road games to date at Boston College and Clemson.
Tech is 0-6 in the ACC for the first time since the 2001-02 season, when it began the conference slate with seven straight losses, but recovered to win seven of the last nine and finish 7-9.
Georgia Tech has won the last four meetings between the two teams at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, including a pair of overtime affairs in 2005 (102-101) and last year (87-79).
Free throw shooting and/or turnovers have been the primary culprits in Tech’s 0-6 conference start. The Jackets have shot 59.1 percent from the charity stripe in league games, and averaged just under 20 turnovers. As a result, Tech has failed to protect late leads in four of its six losses.
The Yellow Jackets have struggled to score consistently since a trip to California just before Christmas, averaging 64.6 points and shooting just 40.5 percent from the floor over their last five games. Tech has scored less than 60 points three times this year.
Aminu vs. Aminu I
When Georgia Tech faces Wake Forest Saturday, it will mark only the second time in ACC history that two brothers will face one another as members of opposing teams. Wake Forest has been involved in both instances.
Tech senior Alade Aminu is averaging 12.3 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets, while Demon Deacon freshman Al-Farouq Aminu is averaging 12.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.
The only previous meeting between brothers in the ACC occurred back on Jan. 3, 1969, when Charlton Heights, W. Va., brothers Jerry and Roger Montgomery, played in Wake Forest’s 93-71 win over Maryland at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Deacons’ Jerry out-scored Terp brother Roger 6-to-4.
“I’m sure it will be an exciting thing for both of those kids,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. “Alade is having a great senior year. I did see their game against Clemson in preparation for the Clemson game. Farouq had a couple of big time dunks in that game. Their team is obviously playing great, but once you get past the uniqueness of it, and the excitement for those kids, we have other things to worry about. I think Alade is more of a four-five, and Farouq, again from just watching that game, it looks like they have him playing a lot on the perimeter.”
Tech Back to Three-Guard Lineup
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. For most of this season, Tech has started two guards along with Peacock, Aminu and sophomore Gani Lawal in the front court.
Tech has been led this season by post players Lawal and Aminu, who rank 1-3 on the team in scoring (15.6 and 12.3 ppg, respectively) and 1-2 in rebounding (10.4 and 8.5 pg). The two players rank 1-6 in the ACC in rebounding, and in the ACC’s top three in field goal percentage.
Senior Lewis Clinch has started the last 12 games after missing the first seven games due to academic ineligibility. He has scored in double digits in nine of the 12, averaging 12.8 points a game, while also logging minutes at point guard (2.8 apg). Freshman Iman Shumpert, who has played the point in Miller’s absences, averages 11.7 points and is third in the ACC in assist average (5.6 pg).
Peacock, who has scored in double figures in four of his last five games, averages 10.5 points and a career-best 5.7 rebounds per game.
Miller missed seven games due to a nasal fracture sustained in Tech’s game with UIC. He returned to the court Jan. 10, and averages 6.5 points and 4.5 assists per game. He is the primary ballhandler when he and Shumpert are both on the floor.
Sophomore Lance Storrs (4.7 ppg, 41.8 pct. from three-point range) and freshman walk-on Nick Foreman (1.9 ppg) have been key reserves in the backcourt, Storrs for his shooting ability and Foreman for his defense.
Brad Sheehan, a 7-foot sophomore averaging 3.6 points and 2.4 rebounds, is averaging more than 12 minutes a game off the bench in the post, and Bassirou Dieng (1.2 ppg in nine games) provides additional depth.
Series With Wake Forest
> Wake leads the overall series with Georgia Tech, 34-31, having won eight of the last 14 meetings and 13 of the last 21. But the Yellow Jackets swept the season series from the Demon Deacons in 2007-08 for the first time since the 1997-98 season. The teams had split their regular-season series five times in the previous seven years, and the Deacons had swept Tech twice.
> Wake Forest is one of two permanent home-and-away opponents on Tech’s schedule each year (Clemson is the other) since the ACC expanded to 12 schools.
> Tech is 21-9 in games played at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, including the last four meetings and an 87-79 overtime win last season. The Demon Deacons had won two straight meetings in Atlanta and three of five before that.
>The home team has won 24 of the last 32 regular-season games in the series, with Wake Forest winning four times at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in that span, and Tech winning four times in Winston-Salem.
> Tech has lost eight of the last 10 meetings at the Joel Coliseum, and is just 5-14 in the building. Tech is 9-21 against Wake Forest on the road, including a 2-3 mark in regular-season games played in Greensboro and a 2-4 mark in games played in Winston-Salem prior to the opening of Joel Coliseum.
> Tech is 28-23 against Wake Forest since 1985, including 12 straight victories from 1985-91.
> Tech is 8-10 against Wake Forest under head coach Paul Hewitt. The Jackets are 2-0 against Dino Gaudio-coached Wake Forest teams.
> Tech is 11-8 vs. Wake Forest when the Yellow Jackets are in the Top 25, and 3-5 when both teams are ranked.
> Wake Forest has won all four of its meetings with Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament, including a 75-74 triumph in the 1996 championship game in Greensboro. Wake Forest took the 2007 first-round meeting, winning 114-112 in double-overtime, the highest scoring game in ACC Tournament history and the highest scoring game for Tech involving and ACC opponent in its history.
Tech Finally at “Full” Strength
Georgia Tech has fielded a full complement of available players for only the last four games this season.
Because of a spinal injury to D’Andre Bell before the beginning of pre-season practice, Tech has played this entire season with just nine scholarship players. But even without considering Bell’s absence, the Yellow Jackets played their first 15 games this season with less than the full roster that took the court for the first day of practice.
Senior guard Lewis Clinch did not make his 2008-09 debut for the Yellow Jackets until Dec. 17 against Georgia State after being academically ineligible for fall semester and missing the first seven games. Moe Miller, a sophomore point guard, missed the next seven games due to a mild concussion and a nasal fracture suffered in Tech’s Dec. 14 loss to UIC.
With Miller cleared to play Jan. 10 against Maryland, Zachery Peacock woke up with a stomach ailment and did not dress for the game (he was checked out at a local hospital and was fine by the next day).
Miller had successful surgery to repair his fracture Wednesday, Dec. 17, returned to practice Jan. 8, and is wearing a specially-fitted mask.
Tech’s current starting lineup (Clinch, Shumpert, Peacock, Aminu, Lawal) has an aggregate 163 career starts. That’s fewer than 33 per player. Alade Aminu is Tech’s active leader in games played with 92, followed by Lewis Clinch with 80 and Zachery Peacock with 75.
Not even Tech’s walk-on group has been immune – Derek Craig missed time in the pre-season with two concussions, Sam Shew has missed practice time recently with a concussion, and Ty Anderson has not been able to practice or play since fall semester ended due to a viral infection and a back injury.
Lawal Becomes Focus for Opponents’ Defensive Efforts
Sophomore Gani Lawal has been a dominant player on the offensive end and on the boards for Georgia Tech. The 6-9 sophomore has averaged a double-double this season (currently 15.6 ppg, 10.4 rpg) and hitting 55.6 percent of his shots from the floor. He continues to lead the ACC in rebound average, while also leading the conference in field goal percentage and standing 11th in scoring.
In ACC games only, Lawal also averages a double-double (13.3 ppg and 11.0 rpg) while hitting 51.6 percent from the floor. If he can maintain it, Lawal would become the first Tech player since Alvin Jones in 2001, and the eighth since 1953, to average double figures in points and rebounds for a full season.
He has more 10-rebound games (14) and more double-doubles (12) than any ACC player. He has missed two other double-doubles by one rebound each, and ranks 16th nationally in rebound average. Lawal has achieved double-doubles in four of six ACC games, missing by one rebound against Virginia, and scoring just six points while taking a career-high 17 boards against Duke.
Lawal, who has consistently gotten the ball inside for easy lay-ins, dunks and short-range bank shots, is on the early season watch list for the Naismith Award, given to the nation’s top player by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
Statistically, Lawal may be the most improved player in the ACC, more than doubling his scoring and rebounding averages from his freshman year, and nearly doubling his average minutes per game.
“He has a great motor. He just constantly plays hard,” said Hewitt. “I think the biggest difference between last year and this year is that he is in just so much better physical condition. He is taking great care of his body. He has never been a guy who has ate poorly, but I think he is really paying attention to what he is doing to prepare his body mentally for practice and games. I think his conditioning has led to more rebounding. He has always tried to get rebounds, but he fatigued quickly last year. That’s why he only played 17, 18 minutes. Now, he can play 32, 33 minutes a game because of his superior physical condition. He has always been a great worker and has had a great motor for the game. “
Tight Finishes Again Dot Tech Schedule
Continuing a trend from last season, 10 of Georgia Tech’s games this season have been decided by seven points or fewer. Only three of Tech’s 10 losses has come by 10 or more points.
Tech has played four overtime games this season (including three in conference games), the most in one season since 1998-99, when the Yellow Jackets played five OT games. Tech is 1-3 in overtime games this season, 6-7 under head coach Paul Hewitt.
> Note on OT – Tech’s last back-to-back overtime games occurred in the 1995-96 season. Tech has never played three consecutive overtime games, but has played three in the same month of the season three times).
Last season, 21 of Tech’s 32 games were decided by 10 points or fewer, and the Jackets were 9-12 in those games. Fourteen games were decided by five points or fewer or went to overtime, and Tech was 7-7 in those contests.
Tech’s five home ACC losses last year came by a total of eight points (one to Miami, two to Maryland, one to North Carolina, two to Florida State, two to Virginia). Of Tech’s three home ACC games to date, two went to overtime and were decided by four points each.