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Jackets Host North Carolina, Look to Build on FSU Win

Feb. 1, 2002

ATLANTA – With its first Atlantic Coast Conference win of the season achieved, Georgia Tech begins its second rotation in conference play Saturday against North Carolina looking to even the season series against the Tar Heels.

Saturday’s game will be televised by CBS and air in Atlanta on WGCL-TV (Ch. 46). Local radio coverage on the Georgia Tech/ISP Network can be heard on WQXI-AM (790) and WMAX-FM (98.1).

Tech (8-13, 1-7 ACC) snapped a six-game losing streak Wednesday night by posting its largest margin of victory ever in ACC play with a 77-46, home-court win over Florida State. North Carolina (6-12, 2-6 ACC) has dropped seven of eight games following an 87-58 home-court loss to Duke Thursday night.

“Their young guys have gotten a lot better,” head coach Paul Hewitt said of the Tar Heels. “It was unfortunate for them that Jason Capel missed the four game he missed, but other guys got a chance to grow up.

Of his own team, Hewitt said, “We did a better job of closing out the game [against Florida State]. We’ve had stretches of very good basketball this year, but at crunch time, people would make runs at us, sometimes we got a little panicked and didn’t take good shots. When Florida State made their run at us, Marvin Lewis made a big three and we made some big defensive stops.”

Led by the backcourt tandem of 5-11 Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.) and 6-4 Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.), Tech continues to exhibit balance on offense with four players averaging in double figures in ACC games, and ranks second in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage (37.1). The Jackets, who had struggled defensively allowing 86.0 points a game and 49.4 percent shooting to league foes prior to Florida State, held the Seminoles to 35.2 percent shooting and just 46 points.

Akins, Tech’s point guard, ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring (15.8 points per game), fifth in assists (5.7 per game) and second in three-point percentage (41.8 percent). Lewis, Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures for the season with 12.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, is coming off an 18-point effort against FSU. He leads the ACC in three-point percentage (44.7) and ranks third in free throw percentage (87.5).

Tech’s starting lineup for the last three games has included 6-5 sophomore Clarence Moore (Norco, La.) and 6-3 freshman B.J. Elder (Madison, Ga.) at the forwards, and 6-7 freshman Ed Nelson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at center. Head coach Paul Hewitt has used six different starting lineups this season.

Moore, who has averaged 11.4 points in ACC games, averages 9.6 points and 5.3 rebounds for the season. Nelson, who has put together an excellent six-game stretch beginning with Duke (13.2 points, 55.6 field goal percentage), averages 8.1 points and a team-leading 6.9 rebounds, which also tops all ACC freshmen. Elder, who has started the last three games, averages 9.0 points and has seven double-figure games.

Tech goes five deep on the bench, led by 6-5 sophomore wingman Halston Lane (Oak Ridge, Tenn.), 7.1 points per game, 6-8 sophomore center Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.), 4.5 points and 5.4 rebounds, 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), who averages 7.2 points and 3.3 rebounds, and 6-5 guard Anthony McHenry (Fr., Birmingham, Ala.), 1.9 ppg. Seven-foot freshman center Luke Schenscher (Hope Forest, South Australia), who returned to the court against Virginia after missing 12 games with a broken foot, averages 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds.

“Having Luke is tremendous for us to have in the middle to contest shots, change shots,” Hewitt said. “In all three of the games he’s played since he returned, he’s had a very good impact on our interior defense.”

Tech vs. North Carolina

oNorth Carolina leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech, 53-14, and has won the last eight in a row dating back to Dec. 22, 1998, when Tech posted a 66-64 victory at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

oThe Tar Heels won the team’s earlier meeting, 83-77, on Dec. 1 in Chapel Hill, rallying from a nine-point deficit in the final 11 minutes for the win. Brian Morrison led North Carolina with 21 points (6-8 3FG), while Tony Akins scored a game-high 22 for Tech.

oTech is 7-17 against North Carolina at home, including a 5-11 mark at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and a 2-6 mark in regular-season home games played at the old Omni. The Tar Heels have won their last two games in the Thrillerdome, an 84-70 win on Jan. 2, 2000 and a 70-53 win on Jan. 29, 2000. The Yellow Jackets’ last home win over North Carolina occurred on Dec. 22, 1998 by a 66-64 score.

oTech’s greatest success in its series with North Carolina occurred during the middle 1990s when the Jackets won five of seven meetings during one stretch. The string included three straight wins over No. 1-ranked Tar Heel teams, 77-75 on Mar. 14, 1993 in the ACC Tournament finals, 89-69 on Jan. 12, 1994 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and 96-89 on Feb. 12, 1994 at the Dean Smith Center. (See page 246 of the Tech media guide for further details.)

oCurrent assistant coach Willie Reese was on Tech teams that went 1-8 against North Carolina, but the win came in his final home game as a Jacket when Dennis Scott stole an inbounds pass and drained a three-point shot with four seconds left for a 76-74 victory in Atlanta.

oUNC coach Matt Doherty has never lost to Georgia Tech as a player (9-0) or as a head coach (4-0).

oDoherty (Holy Trinity) and Tech coach Paul Hewitt (Westbury) played high school basketball at the same time.

Last Time Out

Georgia Tech broke through for its first ACC win in a big way, scoring its largest margin of victory for a conference game in a 77-46 triumph over Florida State Wednesday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

The win eclipsed a 30-point win over Clemson (80-50) on Feb. 1, 1995, and the 46 points allowed were the fewest for Tech under head coach Paul Hewitt. It also was the lowest yield for Tech against an ACC team with the shot clock and the three-point field goal in effect, and the third-lowest against an ACC team since Tech joined the league.

The Jackets held the Seminoles to 35.2 percent field goal shooting, 10 percent better than the previous low by an ACC opponent against Tech this season, and held FSU to one field goal in the final 11:28.

Marvin Lewis canned five threes and led all scorers with 18 points, while Clarence Moore added 13, Tony Akins 11 (with seven assists and no turnovers) and Isma’il Muhammad 12.

Tech Trends and Anomalies

oTech followed seven straight losses against ACC opponents by posting its largest victory margin ever against an ACC team with its 77-46 win over Florida State. oFour of Tech’s last six opponents have been ranked 21st or higher in the Associated Press poll, three of them in the top seven. Tech’s schedule is ranked the 20th most difficult in the nation according to the Sagarin Index. Only Duke’s is rated tougher (13th) among ACC teams.

oTech is 7-1 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The only loss: NC State. Tech is 1-12 when the opponent shoots a higher percentage.

oTech has attempted more field goals than every ACC opponent thus far except Duke. Overall, Tech has tried as many or more field goals than 18 of its 21 opponents this season.

oConversely, Tech has attempted more free throws than its opponent in only seven games, and has won five of those.

oTech has not shot 50 percent in a game yet this season, and has not in 27 straight games dating back to last Feb. 17 (50 percent vs. NC State).

oTech has yielded 50 percent shooting eight times this season, compared to just three times last year. Tech is 1-10 under Paul Hewitt when allowing an opponent to shoot 50 percent.

oTech has held six opponents under 40 percent shooting this season, winning all of those games. FSU was Tech’s first ACC opponent this season to finish under 40 percent.

oTech has collected 10 or more steals in eight games this season, matching last year’s total, and is averaging 8.5 steals per game (third in the ACC), compared with 7.9 per game a year ago. Tech averages 9 steals in ACC games.

oIn all eight of Tech’s victories this season, the Yellow Jackets have outscored their opponent in the second half. Tech is 8-2 when doing so, losing only to Duke and Maryland.

oTech has committed the same number or fewer turnovers than its opponent 11 times this season, but has won just five of those games.

Taking Care of the Ball

Georgia Tech matched its season low for turnovers in an ACC game Wednesday with just 10 against Florida State. Its primary ballhandlers, Tony Akins and B.J. Elder, combined for just one miscue in 57 minutes.

Akins logged his fourth zero-turnover game in the last two years, and first since going turnover-less for two straight games late last season against FSU and Virginia. The 5-11 point guard also had seven assists in 34 minutes.

As a team, the Yellow Jackets have taken better care of the ball of late, averaging just 14.0 turnovers in an nine-game stretch dating back to Dec. 29. Tech committed a season-low eight each against IUPUI and Cornell, had just 10 against Virginia and Florida State.

Tech averaged 19.3 turnovers over its first 11 games, including three games with more than 20.

Marv on the Mark

Marvin Lewis has established himself as one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC, hitting 44.7 percent of his attempts this season, which leads the ACC following his 5-for-9 effort against Florida State Wednesday night.

The 6-4 sophomore has gone 16-for-33 from behind the arc in the last six games (48.5 percent).

He also is one of the ACC’s top marksmen from the foul line, hitting 87.5 percent from the stripe (third in the ACC). He hit 8-of-9 against Clemson and has had three games where he was 6-for-6 (Illinois, Davidson, Wofford). Over his last 11 games, he has hit 89.2 percent from the stripe (33-37).

Akins Cools Off, But Still Leads ACC in 3-Pt. Shooting

Tony Akins, who made his 107th career start vs. Wake Forest, has been Georgia Tech’s most consistent offensive player, scoring in double digits in 18 of 21 games and leading the Jackets in scoring at 15.8 points per game (9th in the ACC) while averaging 5.7 assists (5th in the ACC).

Akins is the only ACC player to rank in the top 10 in scoring and top 5 in assists. The 5-11 senior failed to sink a three-pointer and scored just two points against Virginia, but rebounded to knock down seven treys and score 31 points in the last two games. Prior to the Virginia game, the 5-11 senior had been on a binge in which he hit 20 of 35 three-point attempts (57.1 percent) and 31 of 60 (51.7) overall, averaging 19.4 points over that stretch.

He ranks second in the ACC in three-point percentage (41.2) and leads the league three-point field goals per game (3.24).

In eight ACC games, Akins has shot 42.3 percent from the floor and 41 percent from three-point range, averaging 16.3 points and 6.1 assists per game.

Akins is averaging career-bests in most offensive categories, including scoring, assists and shooting. His 5.7 assists per game are more than a full assist better than his career-best rate of 4.5 as a freshman. He has had three double-digit assist games this year after never posting one his first three seasons.

He is shooting 77.8 percent from the free throw line, which would rank 6th in the ACC with enough attempts.

On the Rebound

When Tony Akins doesn’t score a three, he usually responds in a big way. oAfter not hitting one against Virginia a week ago, he has responded with 31 points, 11 assists and seven treys in two games.

oAfter missing out from behind the arc against IUPUI, Akins went on a five-game tear in qhich he averaged 19.4 points and hit 20 of 35 three-point attempts (57.1 percent).

oLast year after going scoreless against Clemson last season, Akins averaged 18.1 points and hit 46.6 percent of his threes the rest of the season.

oAs a sophomore, Akins went 0-2 with nine points against Virginia. In the final eight games of that season, he hit 45.7 percent of his threes and 13.5 points, including a 33-point performance against Florida State in which he sank 9 of 14 three-point attempts.

Akins’ Career Numbers

Tony Akins passed the 500-assist mark with seven against Florida State, and ranks sixth at Tech in career assists (503), needing eight to pass Mark Price (510, 1983-86). Akins also ranks eighth in career steals with 146.

He has 1,450 career points, jumping to 16th place in Tech history after beginning the year in 28th. He needs 10 points to move past Jim Wood (1,459 points, 1974-77) for 15th place.

The Full Nelson

Freshman Ed Nelson seems to have grown more comfortable in recent games, giving the Yellow Jackets some inside scoring presence almost always against taller players. The 6-7 rookie has averaged 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in Tech’s last six outings beginning at Duke on Jan. 10.

Nelson scored 14 points with nine rebounds against Duke, 18 and 8 against Maryland, 14 and 8 against State, 15 and 3 against Virginia and 12 and 8 against Wake Forest. He has made 30 of 54 field goal tries (55.6 percent) in those games combined. In his first 15 games, he had just three double-digit scoring games.

He has also gotten to the free throw line for 30 attempts, making 19 for 63.3 percent, a vast improvement over his first 15 games (46.5 percent).

“We said before the season started that Ed Nelson was going to be one of our better rebounders and one of our better scorers,” said Hewitt. “Early in the year, he had a little bit of adjustment playing against some taller defenders. Instead of taking the ball at them as he was accustomed to, he shied away from contact, double-clutched a little on his shot. Now he seems to have smoothed that out, and he’s going right at people.”

Tech Getting More of Moore

Head coach Paul Hewitt has called Clarence Moore his most important player when the 6-5 sophomore is at his best. The Yellow Jackets have seen Moore at his best more often lately.

Moore has scored in double digits in seven of eight games, including 16 against Clemson, 11 against Maryland, 14 against NC State, 15 against Virginia, 14 against Wake Forest and 13 against Florida State. He has averaged 12.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, and made 45.5 percent of his field goals in that stretch.

“Mo”, as he is known, has been a key defender as well, averaging more steals per minute than any of his teammates, including four each against Virginia and FSU.

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, which earned him ACC co-Player of the Week honors, and a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) in the following game against Davidson.

Moore is Tech’s third-leading scorer overall and its third-leading rebounder. In ACC games, the Norco, La., native has hit 47 percent of his field goal attempts, and averages 11.4 points and 5.3 rebounds.

Like an Elder

He is only a freshman, but he’s beginning to play more like an Elder, B.J. Elder, that is. The 6-3 rookie from Madison, Ga., has scored in double figures seven times in Georgia Tech’s last 11 games, including a 14-point effort in his second career start against Virginia.

Head coach Paul Hewitt has inserted Elder into the starting lineup four times in the last six games when he has wanted a smaller, quicker unit. The first time was at Duke on Jan. 10, and Elder responded with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting with two assists before fouling out. He has started each of the last three games, scoring 14, 4 and 6 points.

Elder has averaged 8.8 points a game in conference play. His season high of 17 points came at North Carolina on Dec. 1.

A Balanced Attack

Only two Yellow Jackets, Tony Akins (15.8 ppg) and Marvin Lewis (12.9 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 in 11 of the last 15 games.

Four Tech players – Tony Akins (16.3), Marvin Lewis (11.5), Clarence Moore (11.4), Ed Nelson (10.8) – averaged in double digits in conference games.

Nine different Yellow Jackets have scored in double figures at least once this season.

Overall, Tech has averaged 77.0 points per game this season, about two points per game better than last season, fifth in the ACC. The Jackets rank second in the ACC in three-point percentage (37.1) and rank fourth in free throw percentage (68.4).

They’re Not Booing, They’re Saying “Loooook”

Luke Schenscher, who missed 12 games with a broken bone in his foot, made a triumphant return to action against Virginia, scoring four points and blocking three shots in a three-minute first-half stint in Georgia Tech’s 69-65 loss to the Cavaliers.

The 7-foot center from Hope Forest, South Australia finished with six points and two rebounds, scoring his final bucket on a left-handed hook shot to give Tech its last lead at 63-62 with 2:11 left in the game. Each of Schenscher’s entries and exits from the game, as well as his baskets and blocks, were greeted by the home crowd’s chants of “Loooook.”

Schenscher came back with a career-high nine points (4-5 FG) and five rebounds Wednesday night against Florida State in his most extensive playing time (23 minutes) of the season, and established himself defensively in the back of the Tech defense. He has grown to 240 pounds since arriving at Tech weighing 214.

Schenscher averaged 3.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in six games before breaking the third metatarsal bone in his left foot on Nov. 29. Tech played the ensuing 12 games with no player taller than 6-8 and nine healthy scholarship players.

Stronger at the Line, But Not at the Line Enough

Georgia Tech has shown modest improvement this season from the free throw line (68.4 percent, fourth in the ACC), and have five players over 70 percent from the stripe. Marvin Lewis ranks third in the conference at 87.5 percent, followed by Akins at 77.8 percent, Halston Lane at 75.5 percent, B.J. Elder at 71.9 percent and Clarence Moore at 71.6. Even Ed Nelson, who leads the team in attempts (73), has improved to the point where he has made 60.6 percent of his tries in ACC games.

Tech has been unable to take advantage of its improved accuracy, however, having been to the line just 21 times a game, compared to 25 for its opponents. That difference is far greater in ACC games, 21 attempts per game for the Jackets to 30 for their opponents.

The Jackets are 5-2 when attempting more free throws than their opponents this year, 3-11 when they attempt fewer. Only Maryland and Florida State attempted fewer free throws than Tech among ACC foes.

Shuffling the Lineup

Facing a roster with five new scholarship players, head coach Paul Hewitt has used six different starting lineups this season, tinkering to find that right combination or match up better against its opponent. Tony Akins and Marvin Lewis are the only players to have started every game this season.

Hewitt has settled on Akins, Lewis, Clarence Moore, Ed Nelson and B.J. Elder for each of the last three games, and though it has lost two of those three, Tech has outscored the three teams on average, 72-67.

Tech also limited those three teams to an average 43.5 percent after allowing its first five ACC opponents 50.3 percent.

Nine different players have started games this season, and seven have started an ACC game.

Despite who starts the game, however, Hewitt is still using a 10-man rotation with each member averaging 10 minutes a game or more.

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) ranks ahead of Akins on Tech’s career lists for three-point field goals made and attempted.

Akins, who is 271-for-729 in his career (37.2 percent), passed Travis Best (258-for-656) Jan. 13 against Maryland and has risen to 7th place on the all-time ACC list for three-point field goals made.

The 5-11 senior has already shot 165 three-point attempts this season, an average of 7.9 per game which is well above his career average of 6.2 attempts per game. But with an increase in frequency has come an improvement in accuracy. He has made 41.2 percent of his attempts this season, compared with 35.7 percent for his first three years combined.

Georgia Tech (8-13, 1-7) vs. North Carolina (6-12, 2-6)February 2, 2002 o 1 p.m.Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald's Center o Atlanta, Ga.

TV: CBS, Gus Johnson, pbp, Clark Kellogg, color Radio: WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1), Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 8-13, 1-7 ACC (H: 5-6, A: 0-5, N: 3-2) Series vs. North Carolina: UNC leads, 53-14 Vs. UNC at AMC: UNC leads, 11-5 Vs. UNC since joining ACC: UNC leads 39-12 Previous meeting this year: UNC won 83-77 in Chapel Hill on Dec. 1 Head Coach Paul Hewitt: 91-53 (.632), 5th season overall 25-26 (.490), 2nd season at Tech Last game: Jan. 30, Tech d. Florida State, 77-46, at AMC Next game: Feb. 6, at Clemson, 7 p.m.

Probable Starters F 1 B.J. Elder 6-3 Fr. 9.0 ppg 1.9 rpg F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 9.6 ppg 5.3 rpg C 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 8.1 ppg 6.9 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 15.8 ppg 5.7 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 12.9 ppg 4.4 rpg

Top Reserves C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 4.5 ppg 5.4 rpg F 33 Halston Lane 6-5 So. 7.1 ppg 3.2 rpg F 55 Anthony McHenry 6-6 Fr. 1.9 ppg 1.3 rpg F 2 Isma’il Muhammad 6-5 Fr. 7.2 ppg 3.3 rpg C 12 Luke Schenscher 7-0 Fr. 4.1 ppg 2.9 rpg

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