Nov. 23, 2005
ATLANTA – Off to a 2-0 start, Georgia Tech looks to keep a perfect mark Friday night when it hosts Illinois-Chicago at 6:30 p.m. in a regionally televised basketball game at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The Flames, 2-1 pending a Wednesday night home game with St. Xavier, have five road games among their first six entering Friday’s tilt, which airs on FSN South. Radio coverage is provide by the Georgia Tech-ISP sports network (WQXI-AM 790, South 107.1, WREK-FM 91.1 in Atlanta, also on XM Radio Ch. 192).
Tech has begin its sixth season under head coach Paul Hewitt with an 80-52 victory last Friday over UNC-Asheville and an 81-69 win Monday night against Elon. Tonight’s game is the last of three home games to start the season.
Hewitt unveiled an entirely new starting lineup for its season opener, with all five players starting a game for the first time. It includes 6-0 sophomore Zam Fredrick at point guard, 6-4 junior Mario West and 6-5 sophomore Anthony Morrow on the wings, 6-6 sophomore Jeremis Smith at forward, and 6-9 sophomore Ra’Sean Dickey at center.
All but Fredrick (9.0 ppg) are averaging in double figures through two games, led by Morrow at 15.5. The Charlotte, N.C., native has made 65 percent of his shots from the floor and 4-of-8 from three-point range. Dickey is third on the squad at 12.5 points per game while averaging 7.0 rebounds, and Smith is next at 11.5 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds per game. West has made 6-of-7 shots from the floor and is averaging 11.0 points per game.
Freshman Lewis Clinch, a 6-3 guard, is the fifth Tech player in double digits at 13.5 points a game, second on the team. D’Andre Bell, a 6-5 wing man from Los Angeles, Calif., has averaged 2.5 points and 2.0 rebounds off the bench.
Coach Hewitt Says …
“It’s possession to possession. You want to them to learn to try to win every single possession. You might not win each possession every game, but we talk about putting yourself in position to win every possession, every game.
“Anthony Morrow is a high-energy guy. So is Jeremis Smith, so is Mario West, and we need to get everybody to that same energy level. Anthony didn’t particularly shoot the ball as well as he is capable but he went to the offensive boards to get himself started. That’s what high energy guys do. They don’t sulk when things aren’t going right for them, they go find another way. Thank goodness he went and got three rebounds and three stickbacks to get us a little cushion. I think the energy level of this team is very important. You don’t win basketball games on talent alone. Talent is important, but it comes down to execution and playing with energy on every single possession.
“We said at the beginning that each game would get progressively more difficult. Certainly Elon played a better game than we saw on Friday, and Illinois-Chicago should be the best team we’ve played so far.”
Series vs. Illinois-Chicago
In the only previous meeting between the two schools, Georgia Tech went to Chicago, hometown of senior Will Bynum, to play the Flames last year, and needed a pair of free throws from Luke Schenscher with 25.9 seconds to give Tech a 60-59 victory. B.J. Elder made three key three-point field goals late, and Jeremis Smith added a pair of key free throws in the final minute.
Elon Provides Second-Half Test
Georgia Tech sprinted to a 53-34 halftime lead, but watched Elon whittle the advantage all the way down to 10 points in the final three minutes before finishing off the Phoenix in an 81-69 victory, improving the Yellow Jackets’ record to 2-0.
After shooting 52.9 percent in the first half, Tech made just 7-of-19 field goal attempts (0-for-4 on threes) and turned the ball over 13 times in the second half. The Phoenix also held top perimeter scorers Anthony Morrow and Lewis Clinch (24 first-half points combined) to just six total after intermission.
The Yellow Jackets did, however, reach 80 points and place five players in double digits for the second straight game. Tech did not score 80 points until its fourth game of the season last year, and did not have five players score in double figures until game five.
> Anthony Morrow went 6-for-8 against UNC Asheville and began Monday night’s game by making 6-of-7 before finishing 7-for-12. His shooting percentage through two games is 65.0, and he has made 4-of-8 three-point attempts.
> Lewis Clinch has reached double figures off the bench in each game, giving Tech 20 double-figure performances off the bench in the last 34 games. Tech’s bench has contributed 21.0 points per game so far.
> Mario West, a career 36.7-percent shooter, is 6-of-7 in two games.
> Reversing a five-year trend in which the Yellow Jackets have shot free throws poorly early in the season, Tech has made 71.4 percent of its charity tosses in the first two games. The Jackets made their last seven attempts in salting away Monday night’s win over Elon. Zam Fredrick and Mario West each are 10-of-12, Jeremis Smith is 8-for-13, Ra’Sean Dickey 7-of-10 and Lewis Clinch 6-of-9.
> Tech has placed five players in double figures in scoring in each game so far. The Jackets did that only four times all of last season.
> Opponents have made just 7-of-36 three-point attempts against Tech in two games.
> Eight Tech players are averaging double figures in minutes.
> Tech has forced 42 turnovers and turned them into 51 points.
Tech in the Thrillerdome
Georgia Tech is playing its 50th season at Alexander Memorial Coliseum (capacity 9,191), and the Jackets have a record of 493-166 (.748) in the building, which opened Nov. 30, 1956 with a 71-61 Tech loss to Duke. Since the 1981-82 season, Tech is 254-65 (.796) in its on-campus home.
The Yellow Jackets are 58-18 at home under head coach Paul Hewitt, and have won 40 of their last 48 games in the Thrillerdome dating back to the final two home games of 2001-02.
Tech is 143-8 against non-conference opposition at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, including 22 straight wins against such teams. From 1981 through last season, the only non-ACC teams to win at the Thrillerdome were Penn, Tulane and IUPUI (all in the 2001-02 season), Georgia (2000), Penn State (1998), College of Charleston (1993), Louisville (1989), and Richmond (1987).
Georgia Tech has played before sellout crowds every home game since its run to the Preseason NIT championship in November of 2003.