ATLANTA (Dec. 23) – Georgia Tech completes a stretch of four holiday home games over the next 11 days with a 7:30 p.m. game Tuesday against UNC Greensboro and a 3 p.m. game Sunday, Jan. 2, against Lafayette at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center.
The Lafayette game will be regionally televised on Fox Sports Net South and Home Team Sports. Wes Durham and Randy Waters will have the radio call of both games on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network (WGST 640 AM/105.7 FM in Atlanta).
The Yellow Jackets (5-4) have won two straight games to get above .500 following their 80-70 win over Wofford Wednesday night. UNC Greensboro comes in at 6-3 following a 93-88 double-overtime loss at Winthrop Tuesday. Lafayette, an NCAA Tournament team last season, is 5-2 following its 82-52 win over Gettysburg Tuesday, and plays in the Lobo Invitational Dec. 29-30 before visiting Tech.
The Yellow Jackets are led by a pre-season all-ACC choice in 7-0 senior forward Jason Collier (Springfield, Ohio) and 5-11 sophomore guard Tony Akins (Lilburn, Ga.).
Collier leads the Jackets averaging 18.9 points, second in the ACC, and 9.7 rebounds per game, first in the ACC. He leads Tech with 52.6 percent shooting from the floor and 74.1 percent from the line. Akins is among the ACC leaders in scoring (13.3 points per game), assists (4.8 per game) and three-point shooting (39.3 percent, 2.4 per game).
The rest of Tech’s starting lineup includes 6-11 junior center Alvin Jones (Lakeland, Fla.), 6-3 junior guard Shaun Fein (Centerville, Mass.) and 6-6 senior forward Jason Floyd (Hampton, Ga.).
Jones remains among the ACC’s rebound (8.6) and blocked shot leaders (2.7) while averaging 11.7 points per game, third on the team. Floyd and Fein each average 10.3 points per game. Floyd is shooting 46.7 percent from the floor, and Fein is among the ACC leaders in three-point shooting (2.4 per game) and assists (4.2 per game).
Tech’s bench may be the deepest of the Bobby Cremins era with 5-10 junior T.J. Vines (Woodstock, Ga.) in the backcourt, 6-7 junior Jon Babul (North Attleboro, Mass.) in the frontcourt and 6-4 freshman Clarence Moore (Norco, La.) on the wing. The trio averages between 15 and 19 minutes per game and has combined for more than 13 points per game.
UNC Greensboro is led by a pair of frontcourt players in 6-8 senior center Demetrius Cherry (14.0 points, 9.9 rebounds per game) and 6-5 sophomore forward James Maye (13.3). The Spartans also start 5-9 sophomore Courtney Eldridge (12.7) and 6-1 junior Nathan Jameson (9.8) at the guards and 6-6 senior Sam Brinson (9.0) at the other forward.
Lafayette has three starters in double figure scoring in 6-4 senior guard Brian Ehlers (14.9), 6-4 junior guard Tyson Whitfield (11.4) and 6-11 senior center Stefan Ciosici (11.1). Tim Bieg (8.7), a 5-11 junior guard, and Nate Klinkhammer (1.0), a 6-8 senior forward, complete the starting lineup.
Tech has nine-game home winning streak against non-conference opposition and a 109-4 record in non-ACC home games under Bobby Cremins.
Series vs. UNC Greensboro, Lafayette
Georgia Tech and UNC Greensboro have met only once previously, a 65-40 Yellow Jacket victory on Dec. 31, 1996, at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Tech and Lafayette also have faced each other once, a 112-84 Jacket win on Dec. 10, 1994 at the Thrillerdome.
Collier Makes it to 1,000
Jason Collier went over the 1,000-point mark for his career in Wednesday night’s game against Wofford, scoring a team-high 22 points to boost his career total to 1,006. The 7-foot senior has scored an even 600 points for the Jackets, following 406 at Indiana.
Collier is the second Georgia Tech player to reach the career plateau this season. Shaun Fein reached 1,000 points with his first score in Tech’s game against Washington. Fein now has 1,064 career points, including 971 (19.7 per game) in two seasons at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.
Senior Jason Floyd, with 826 career points, has a chance to become the 30th Tech player to score 1,000 points in a Yellow Jacket uniform. The 6-6 swingman needs to average nine points per game this season to reach the mark.
Tale of Two Ballhandlers
When Shaun Fein transferred to Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets got not only a good shooter but a fine ballhandler. While Fein’s shooting has only begun to be consistent this year (he was 5-for-7 on threes vs. Morehead State, 3-for-7 vs. Wofford), his floor play has shined.
Fein (2.38-1) and Akins (1.87-1) rank second and third this week in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio, and sixth and seventh, respectively, in assist average. Fein has committed only five turnovers in Tech’s last four games while posting 20 assists.
Moore Starting to Make Waves
Georgia Tech freshman Clarence Moore has begun to make his presence felt. The 6-4 forward scored a career-high eight points on 4-of-7 shooting against Morehead State. He also grabbed five rebounds and had no turnovers in 19 minutes.
He punctuated Tech’s overtime loss to Stanford on Dec. 11 and the win over Morehead, with impressive alley-oop dunks off long passes from Shaun Fein.
Akins, Jackets Cash In On Charity
The Yellow Jackets have made a significant improvement as a team in free throw shooting this season. Tech matched a season high Wednesday night against Wofford with 25 free throws in 34 attempts (73.5 percent), and ranks third in the ACC in free throw percentage (70.6). That’s a vast improvement from the 62.1 percent the Jackets shot a year ago.
Tech canned 10-of-10 in the final five minutes of Wednesday’s win over Wofford, and was 8-for-8 in the last five minutes against Morehead State.
Tony Akins has Tech’s top percentage at 82.4 (22-of-25), including 8-for-8 against Wofford. The 5-11 sophomore has made 18 straight charity tosses.
Jackets Spread the Scoring
Georgia Tech placed five players in double figure scoring against Wofford for the second time this season, and at least four players have reached double digits seven times in nine games this season.
All five Tech starters are averaging at least 10 points per game, ranging from 18.9 points per game for Jason Collier (2nd in the ACC) to 10.3 for Jason Floyd and Shaun Fein. Tony Akins averages 13.3 points (19th in the ACC) and Alvin Jones has an 11.7 norm.
Led by Collier’s 17 points, four Tech players reached double figures against Stanford despite the Jackets’ posting their lowest point total of the young season (61 points). Tech also placed four players in double digits Saturday against Morehead State.
All five starters have at least four double-digit scoring efforts through nine games. Collier has at least 10 in every game, while Akins has missed the mark only once.
Collier ON A ROLL
Jason Collier, after a two-game dry spell in losses to Kansas and Michigan, has rebounded to average 20.8 points in Georgia Tech’s last four games. The 7-foot senior has hit 29 of 53 field goal attempts (54.7 percent) and now ranks third in the ACC in field goal percentage (52.6).
The 7-0 senior scored 26 points, one off his season high of 27 against Grambling, on 11-of-20 shooting against Georgia, then led the Jackets with 17 points (6-of-16 field goals, 4-of-5 free throws) against the Cardinal. He was 6-of-8 Saturday against Morehead State and 6-of-10 against Wofford.
Collier, who hurt both teams inside and out, resurrected his three-point shot, hitting seven of 13 attempts in the four games. Prior to Georgia, Collier had attempted only five and made one.
Collier ranks second in the ACC in scoring and leads in rebounding (9.7).
Non-Conference Foes Beware
Georgia Tech is 109-4 against non-conference opposition at Alexander Memorial Coliseum during the Bobby Cremins era including the last nine in a row. Tech’s third-round NIT loss to Penn State to end the 1997-98 season, its last home loss to a non-ACC team, snapped a 24-game home winning streak against teams outside the conference.
This year’s remaining home non-league slate includes UNC Greensboro, Lafayette and Florida A&M.
The other non-conference teams to win at the Thrillerdome during Cremins’ tenure are Richmond (Dec. 22, 1987), Louisville (Jan. 15, 1989) and the College of Charleston (Jan. 16, 1993).