ATLANTA (Feb. 7) – Georgia Tech opens the second half of the Atlantic Coast Conference season with a pair of home games at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center, hosting Virginia Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., followed by a nationally televised matchup with third-ranked Duke Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Duke game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 and regionally on the ACC network (WATL in Atlanta). Both games can be heard on the Georgia Tech-ISP network (WGST 640AM/105.7 FM in Atlanta), featuring Wes Durham and Randy Waters.
Georgia Tech snapped a four-game losing streak with an 87-59 victory over Florida A&M. After shooting just 31.1 percent (56-180) from the field in the previous three games, Tech improved to 39.5 percent against FAMU, including 51.4 percent (18-35) in the second half.
The Florida A&M contest featured a new starting lineup for the first time this season as 6-5 freshman Clarence Moore (Norco, La.) replaced 6-6 senior Jason Floyd (Hampton, Ga.) at small forward, and 5-10 junior T.J. Vines (Woodstock, Ga.) started at the point in place of 5-11 sophomore Tony Akins (Lilburn, Ga.).
“With the lineup changes, we are just trying to jump start the battery,” said Tech head coach Bobby Cremins. “We’re just trying to do anything to get this team going. It’s nothing personal. We’ll continue to go with this, but Tony and Jason are still very important players.”
Senior forward Jason Collier continues to lead Georgia Tech in both scoring (17.0) and rebounding (9.9). The 7-footer from Springfield, Ohio, ranks fifth in the ACC in scoring and first in rebounding, and he leads the league with 11 double-doubles, including five in ACC play.
Collier is joined in the frontcourt by 6-11 junior center Alvin Jones (Lakeland, Fla.), who averages 11.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game. Moore averages 4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds.
Vines, who averages 4.3 points and 2.1 assists, combines with 6-3 junior Shaun Fein (Centerville, Mass.), 10.6 ppg and 3.4 apg, in the Tech backcourt.
Akins is Tech’s second-leading scorer at 10.9 ppg, along with 4.0 apg, while Floyd contributes 9.8 ppg and 3.5 rpg. Michael Isenhour (Lawrenceville, Ga.), a 6-9 sophomore with 1.3 ppg and 1.1 rpg, sees action in the frontcourt, while the Jackets also hope to have the services of 6-7 junior forward Jon Babul (North Attleboro, Mass.), 4.1 ppg and 4.2 rpg, who has missed the last five games with a strained right quadriceps.
The Virginia (15-7, 5-4 ACC) lineup features 5-11 junior guard Donald Hand, who averages 16.0 points and 4.6 assists per game, along with two sophomores in 6-7 forward Chris Williams, 15.1 ppg and 5.5 rpg, and 6-5 forward Adam Hall, 10.0 ppg and 4.5 rpg, and two freshmen in 6-7 center Travis Watson, 11.3 ppg and 8.3 rpg, and 6-5 guard Roger Mason, 7.4 ppg and 2.2 rpg. The Cavaliers are playing their fourth straight road game.
Duke (18-2, 9-0 ACC) is the hottest team in the nation, reeling off 18 straight victories since an 0-2 start. The Blue Devils have won 31 straight ACC games, pending Wednesday’s contest at Maryland.
The Blue Devils are led by veteran forwards Chris Carrawell, a 6-6 senior, and Shane Battier, a 6-8 junior. Carrawell is the ACC’s second-leading scorer at 18.3 points per game, plus 6.2 rpg, while Battier averages 16.3 ppg and a team-leading 6.4 rpg.
Battier and Carrawell team with 6-6 junior guard Nate James, 10.2 ppg, and freshmen Jason Williams, a 6-2 point guard, 14.7 ppg and 5.8 apg, and Carlos Boozer, a 6-9 center, 13.4 ppg and 6.3 rpg.
“Virginia has been the surprise team in the ACC this year,” said Cremins. “Pete Gillen has done a great job. They’re very athletic and difficult to defend.
“Duke is Duke. I think they’re the best team in the country right now. Battier and Carrawell, their two leaders, have been sensational.
“We played a good first half on the road against both of these teams, but then we fell apart in the second half,” continued Cremins. “We’ve got to put together 40 minutes of basketball to have a chance.”
THE SERIES WITH VIRGINIA
Virginia defeated Georgia Tech, 83-65, last month in Charlottesville. Donald Hand poured in 27 points to lead the Cavaliers, who hit 13 three-pointers. The Yellow Jackets led 37-36 at the half but were plagued by 24 turnovers. Jason Floyd and Jason Collier scored 21 points each for Tech.
Georgia Tech has won five of the last six games with Virginia and seven of the last nine to take a 26-25 lead in the series, including a 23-20 mark under Bobby Cremins.
The Jackets lead 15-4 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and 16-6 in all home games. Tech has won the four in a row and eight of the last nine games in Atlanta, including a 74-68 overtime victory last season. Virginia’s last win at Alexander Memorial Coliseum was an 83-60 decision in 1995.
THE SERIES WITH DUKE
Six Duke players scored in double figures, led by Shane Battier with 19 points, as the Blue Devils defeated Georgia Tech, 82-57, last month at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Alvin Jones led Tech, which trailed just 38-33 at the half, with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
In last year’s meeting in Atlanta, Tech held the Blue Devils to their smallest margin of victory all season in an 87-79 defeat. The Jackets led 40-35 at the half and maintained the lead until 7:45 remained in the game. Jason Collier scored 26 points and Jason Floyd added 19 for Tech.
Duke has won seven in a row to take a 44-20 lead in the series. Tech’s last win over the Blue Devils was a 73-71 overtime victory in Atlanta in 1995-96. Duke leads 13-11 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and 16-13 in all games on Tech’s homecourt.
LINEUP CHANGES PAY DIVIDENDS
After using the same starting lineup for the first 20 games of the season, head coach Bobby Cremins made two changes against Florida A&M, adjustments that paid dividends in the Yellow Jackets’ 89-57 victory.
Clarence Moore, who made his first career start in place of Jason Floyd, responded with 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists, all season highs. The 6-5 freshman hit six of eight shots from the field, was 5-for-5 from the free throw line and also contributed three steals and a blocked shot.
Junior T.J. Vines, who started 11 games last year, made his first start this season at point guard. He scored nine points, his second-best output of the season, and had four assists in 24 minutes. Tony Akins played 23 minutes off the bench and scored 11 points.
FEIN STEALS THE SHOW
Junior guard Shaun Fein grabbed six steals against Florida A&M, the most by a Yellow Jacket this season and just two away from the school record. Fein leads Tech with 27 steals on the season.
Fein averages 10.6 points and 3.4 assists per game and is fourth in the ACC with an assist-turnover ratio of 1.64.
JONES TOPS 300
With three blocked shots against Florida A&M, center Alvin Jones became just the seventh player in ACC history to record 300 blocks. The 6-11 junior now has 302 rejections in 85 career games, an average of 3.55 per game. The conference record is 481 by Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan.