ATLANTA – Georgia Tech, its spate of games against ranked teams over, turns its attention to important games this week against Clemson and Florida State, hoping for a strong finish the first half of its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule.
Head coach Paul Hewitt gets his first chance to reverse a trend of misery for Tech at Littlejohn Coliseum, where the Yellow Jackets have not won since 1993, when they visit Clemson for a 7 p.m. game Wednesday night. The game will not be televised but can be heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP Radio Network (WGST, 640 AM in Atlanta).
Tech is 10-7 overall and 2-4 in the ACC following its 98-77 loss to No.2 Duke Saturday, its second straight defeat after a pair of wins over Top-10 teams Virginia and Wake Forest. The Yellow Jackets are in sixth place in the ACC standings. Clemson, 10-8 overall, is tied for seventh at 1-4 in conference play after a 71-63 loss to Wake Forest Sunday.
The Jackets are led by a pair of seniors in 6-3 guard Shaun Fein, scoring 14.9 points per game and shooting 48.4 percent from the floor, and 6-11 center Alvin Jones, averaging 14.3 points and a team-high 8.9 rebounds per game. Tony Akins, a 5-11 junior guard, has averaged 13.2 points and a team-high 4.5 assists per game. Marvin Lewis, a 6-3 freshman averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, and Jon Babul, a 6-7 senior averaging 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds, start at the forward positions.
Jones (14.3), Akins (14.2) and Fein (13.2) are all averaging in double figures in league play. The Yellow Jackets continue to shoot the ball well from the perimeter, hitting 41.2 percent from the three-point arc vs. Duke and 39.7 percent in ACC games.
Quoting Head Coach Paul Hewitt
“Actually, we needed to get some rest after the Duke game Saturday, so we were off Sunday. Mentally, we also need to get refocused.
“People around the league have said how hard it is to play in Littlejohn Coliseum. So far this year, they’ve done a very good job there. They played Maryland very tough there, and they beat NC State there. We know it’s going to be a difficult game, but again, we need to get our batteries recharged and get focused.
“[Will Solomon] definitely merits some special attention, because he is a guy that can carry their offense. He gets them going. He can score 40. That won’t be very difficult if you don’t pay him special attention.
“I this league, you really can’t take anyone for granted. Florida State has had a tough go of it, but they were down 20 to North Carolina at the half and closed it to three. That just shows you everybody in this league is dangerous. We need to have a good showing against Clemson, then come home with some confidence.”
Georgia Tech vs. Clemson
Georgia Tech and Clemson have split their regular season series 15 of the last 18 years, and the Tigers hold a 48-47 edge in a series that began in 1913.
Each team won on its home court last year, Clemson taking a 70-58 win on Feb. 2 in Clemson and the Jackets returning the favor, 85-69, on Mar. 4 in Atlanta. The only years either team has swept the regular-season series since 1983 were 1986 (Tech), 1987 (Clemson) and 1997 (Clemson).
During that time, Tech is 3-15 at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Tigers have won seven straight over the Jackets on their home court, with Tech last winning on Mar. 7, 1993 by a 66-59 score, and have won 13 of the last 14 meetings at Clemson. All-time, the Yellow Jackets are just 4-24 at Littlejohn.
Among Tech’s losses on Clemson’s home court have been three overtime defeats (1988, 1989, 1992) and three other games decided by three points or fewer (1990, 1995, 1996). Tech was the first team Clemson played in Littlejohn, a 76-72 Tiger win on Nov. 30, 1968.
Last Year’s Meetings
Feb. 2, at Clemson: Andrius Jurkunas scored a career-high 21 points, and Dustin Braddick added a career-best 14 as the Tigers won at home, 70-58. The Yellow Jackets held Will Solomon to 17 points and no three-point field goals for the first time in 25 games, but shot only 34.5 percent from the field. Tony Akins led Tech with 18 points.
Mar. 4, in Atlanta: Georgia Tech seniors Jason Collier and Jason Floyd combined for 47 points in their final home game, and the Yellow Jackets gave outgoing coach Bobby Cremins a victory in his final appearance at home, 85-69. Tech hit a season-high 14 three-pointers, including four by Floyd and three by Collier, to negate a 30-point effort by Will Solomon.
Road Jinx Ends
With its 73-68 win at No. 10 Virginia, Georgia Tech ended a 16-game losing streak in games on opponents’ home courts that dated back to Feb. 11, 1999, when Tech defeated Florida State, 111-108, in double-OT in Tallahassee. The string included 11 ACC games.
Tech is now 1-4 on the road this season with its losses coming at Iowa, Stanford, Maryland and NC State.
Last Time Out
Tech lost its second straight game, a 98-77 decision to No. 2 Duke, Saturday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, shooting 53.6 percent from the floor in the first half to stake the Blue Devils to a 52-33 lead.
Duke extended its lead to as many as 28 in the second half before the Yellow Jackets closed the gap to 90-75 at the 2:45 mark.
Shane Battier scored 34 points, 30 in the second half, while Jason Williams and Carlos Boozer added 24 each. Alvin Jones, who played only 14 minutes because of foul trouble, led Tech in scoring with 13 points, with Shaun Fein adding 11 and T.J. vines chipping in with 10.
Big Wins Dot First Season Under Hewitt
In its first season under head coach Paul Hewitt, Georgia Tech opened some eyes by defeating two of the nation’s all-time best programs, Kentucky and UCLA, in December. But the Yellow Jackets have made the entire country take notice with their performance against Virginia and Wake Forest in back-to-back games earlier this month.
For the first time since the 1985 ACC Tournament, Tech upended two Top-10 teams in back-to-back games, defeating No. 10 Virginia on the road Jan. 9 night (73-68) and following that up with a 95-89 win over No. 6 Wake Forest at home last Saturday. Tech had not beaten two teams ranked in the Top 25 in consecutive games since February of 1996, defeating 12th-ranked North Carolina and 8th-ranked Wake Forest.
With its two wins over No. 10 Virginia and No. 6 Wake Forest in the past week, Georgia Tech zoomed as high as No. 20 in the Sagarin NCAA Basketball Rankings. Tech is currently No. 31, and its strength of schedule is rated 7th in the Sagarin rankings.
Tech’s January schedule included five games against Top 20 teams that began with North Carolina (currently 7th in Sagarin), Maryland (10th), Virginia (11th), Wake Forest (5th) and Duke (2nd).
Tech has played 10 games against teams rated in the Top 30 of the Sagarin index – more than any other Division I team – including Stanford (1), Iowa (18), Kentucky (17), Georgia (22) and UCLA (28) – and has won four of them.
A Tale of Two Halves
In each of its four conference losses this season, Georgia Tech has played solidly in one half and poorly in the other. Conversely, Georgia Tech put two good halves together against Virginia and Wake Forest, both resulting in wins.
Against NC State, Tech held the Wolfpack to 31-percent shooting in the first half and held a 19-12 lead at one point. but State scored 48 points and shot 54.2 percent from the floor after intermission and led by as many as 19 points. Similarly, Duke shot 53.6 percent in the first half and led 52-33 at intermission Saturday, but the Jackets recovered to even things up in the second half, shooting 45.5 percent to the Blue Devils’ 44.4 percent, and Duke outscored Tech just 46-44.
Tech led the Tar Heels 44-32 at halftime in its ACC opener, hitting 6-of-10 three-point attempts and forcing 11 turnovers with its press. But UNC scored the first 10 points of the second half and overtook the Jackets to win 84-70.
Against Maryland, Tech fell behind by 22 in the first half and trailed 53-34 at intermission, but started the second half on a 15-2 run and crept to within 55-49 at one point before losing 93-80. The Jackets shot 54 percent after the half and held Maryland to 30 percent in the same period.
Bench a Necessary Component for Tech
Playing with a 10-man rotation this year, Georgia Tech has come to rely more on its bench for scoring. The Yellow Jackets’ game at NC State provided a clear indication of how important the Yellow Jackets’ bench is.
Tech got just four points from its reserves in the State game after getting 26 against Wake Forest and 22 against Virginia, both wins. The Yellow Jackets got 39 points from its reserves in a win over Kentucky back in December.
For the season, Tech’s bench has averaged 20.2 points per game (25.5 percent of its total scoring). When the Jackets win, that average is 23.7. In losses, the bench has averaged 15.3.
The Jackets actually got plenty of scoring from its bench Saturday against Duke, outscoring the Blue Devil reserves, 32-4.
Jackets Improving at FT Line
Georgia Tech enjoyed an excellent game at the free throw line against Duke, making a season high 28 free throws in 34 attempts for 82.4 percent, and has shown marked improvement at the line since entering conference play.
The Yellow Jackets have made 74.5 percent of their free throws as a team in league games, compared to just 68.3 percent before the New Year began. For the season, Tech has improved to 70.7 percent.
Both figures rank fifth in the ACC, but this edition of the Jackets would be the first to shoot 70 percent for a season since 1995-96 if they can maintain it. One of the hallmarks of Paul Hewitt’s teams at Siena was excellent free throw shooting. The Saints shot 77.8 percent from the charity stripe in his three seasons, and led the nation twice.
Four individuals are above 75 percent in league games, led by freshman Marvin Lewis at 92.3 percent. Jon Babul has hit 85.7 percent, Shaun Fein 81.3 percent and Tony Akins an even 75 percent. Alvin Jones has hit 63.6 percent, far better than his career average in all games.
Fein and Dandy
For all his heroics, senior guard Shaun Fein has been a model of consistency over the entire season, and he has added a driving, slashing dimension to his game, complementing his excellent marksmanship from outside.
Fein has reached double figures in 13 of 17 games and leads the Yellow Jackets in scoring at 14.9 points per game, 10th in the ACC. He also ranks 10th in the league in overall field goal percentage (48.4), 5th in three-point percentage (42.7) and 4th in three-pointers per game (2.59).
He has shot 43.8 percent from three-point land in ACC games, which ranks 5th.
One of Tech’s best ballhandlers, Fein has just 20 turnovers in 17 games and has played without committing a turnover four times this season. His one turnover for every 22.1 minutes played is bettered only by Jon Babul’s one every 26 minutes.
Fein made the all-tournament team in the Stanford Invitational by averaging 18.5 points, making 14 of 18 field goal attempts and 7 of 9 from three-point range. He scored 24 in the championship game against Stanford, making 6 of 8 from three-point range and 9 of 13 overall.
Fein and Lane Common Thread in Top-10 Wins
Senior Shaun Fein and freshman Halston Lane stepped up in both of Georgia Tech’s wins against Virginia and Wake Forest, providing the key baskets each case.
Fein scored 25 at Virginia and 16 against Wake Forest. Against the Cavaliers, the 6-3 senior drained a three-point basket as the shot clock expired, expanding the Jackets’ lead to 71-65 with 48 seconds left. Saturday, with Tech trailing inside of the final minute of regulation, he drove the lane and made a short runner while being fouled, and made the free throw for an 80-78 lead. Fein hit four free throws in overtime to help seal the win.
Lane, as he has done on other occasions this year, saved his best for the biggest games. He scored 10 points at Virginia and canned a pair of second-half threes, including one to give Tech a permanent lead at 66-65 with 3:10 to go. Against Wake Forest, after the Deacons had made up a five-point halftime deficit, Lane canned three treys within a two-minute span to take Tech from 46-44 down to 55-48 ahead.
Fein was named this week’s ACC Player of the Week for his efforts, while Lane earned the ACC Rookie of the Week honor for the second time.
All is Fein in the End
For the third time this season, Shaun Fein scored arguably the biggest basket of the game when he came up with a running one-hander and foul shot with 43 seconds left against Wake Forest. His three-point play put Tech ahead 80-78 in a game the Jackets won 95-89 in overtime.
His three-point basket as the shot clock hit zero at Virginia gave the Jackets a 71-65 lead with 48 seconds left in the 73-68 win. On Dec. 9, he sank the game-winning field goal from the left baseline with 1.3 seconds left as Tech downed Kentucky, 86-84.
Alvin Jones, who made the all-tournament team in the Stanford Invitational, has been even better since coming home.
The 6-11 senior posted his fourth 20-point game of the season at NC State, leading the Jackets with 21 points. Jones posted his 26th career double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds against 6th-ranked Wake Forest. He is the ACC’s career leader among active players in that category.
Despite foul trouble which limited him to 14 minutes against Duke, Jones led the Jackets with 13 points and leads Tech in scoring vs. ACC teams with 14.3 points per game.
He also has excelled on the defensive end, holding Brendan Haywood of North Carolina, Lonny Baxter of Maryland, Travis Watson of Virginia and Josh Shoemaker of Wake Forest to a combined 26 points and 9-of-29 shooting from the floor. All four players got into foul trouble defending Jones, both Baxter and Watson fouling out.
His eight blocks against Maryland were a career-high for an ACC game; two more would have given him a triple-double (15 points, 14 rebounds).
Jones ranks 13th in the ACC in scoring (14.4), 2nd in rebounding (8.9), first in blocked shots (3.63) and would rank 5th in field goal percentage (54.2) with enough field goals made.
One-Man SWAT Team
Alvin Jones, who broke Georgia Tech’s career blocked shot record late in his sophomore season, rejected eight shots against Maryland, a season high and a career high against an ACC opponent, and has taken over the ACC lead in blocks with 3.63 per game. Jones ranks 6th nationally.
The 6-11 senior has had at least one block in every game this season. He has failed to block a shot only five times his entire career, three last season and two as a sophomore.
It took only 60 games for Jones to become Tech’s all-time leader, breaking the record of John Salley (243 from 1983-86) late in his sophomore season. He now has 386 rejections in 111 games, fourth on the ACC list, for a career average of 3.5 per game.
The Difference is Defense
While shooting the ball well is important to Georgia Tech being able to implement its press, the key to Georgia Tech’s ability to win this year has been defense. So far this year, Tech is 8-0 when holding opponents under 70 points, and 7-0 when holding them under 40 percent on field goals.
Tech is 3-7 when its opponent has shot 40 percent or higher.
That was never more apparent than Tech’s losses to North Carolina, Maryland and NC State. The Jackets held the Tar Heels to 37.9 percent in the first half while taking a 44-32 lead, but yielded 51.6 percent and 52 points after intermission. After trailing 53-34 at halftime against Maryland, the Jackets held the Terps to 30 percent shooting in the second half and outscored them, 46-40. At NC State, Tech held the Wolfpack to 31 percent in the first half and trailed just 24-21, but allowed 54.2 percent after intermission and was outscored 48-39.
Defense – Part Deaux
Georgia Tech has held 23 straight teams under 50 percent field goal shooting. The last team to shoot 50 percent against the Jackets was Maryland on Feb. 16 of last season, though Duke came close Saturday at 49.2 percent (30-of-61).
Dating back to last season’s regular season finale against Clemson, Georgia Tech has held nine of 17 opponents under 40 percent shooting from the floor, most recently Virginia at 35.1 percent.
Tech has twice held opponents under 30 percent this season: UCLA managed just 28.6 percent in Tech’s 72-67 win, and Wofford with 25.5 percent in the season opener, and came close to that with Idaho State (30.6) and Harvard (30.1).
Tech has defended the perimeter well. Nine of Tech’s opponents have managed no better than 30 percent from three-point range, including Stanford (6-of-20), North Carolina (4-of-14), Maryland (3-of-13), Virginia (6-of-25) and Wake Forest (4-of-19).
For the season, Tech has allowed opponents just 39.2 percent from the floor, which ranks third in the ACC behind Wake Forest and 14th nationally, and 30.3 percent from three-point range, also second in the ACC.
Tech Shooters On the Mark
Head coach Paul Hewitt’s team has met his expectations in shooting. Tech has been fairly consistent all season, hitting 44.1 percent from the floor overall and 40.2 percent from three-point range. Tech ranks second in the ACC behind Duke in three-point shooting percentage.
The Jackets have failed to make 40 percent from the floor in only three games this season, but still shot well from the three-point area in two of those. Against North Carolina (32.8 percent overall), Tech was 10-for-21 (47.6 percent) from three-point range. Against Duke (34.4 percent overall), the Jackets were 7-of-17 (41.2 percent).
The Jackets rank second in the ACC and fourth nationally in three-point field goals per game (9.24). Tech has exceeded 40 percent from beyond the arc eight times in 17 games, including 41.4 vs. Kentucky, 48.0 vs. Stanford, and the aforementioned two games.
Two Tech players rank officially among the ACC’s top 10 in three-point field goal percentage, led by Shaun Fein (5th, 42.7), followed by Tony Akins (6th, 40.4). Marvin Lewis has hit 41.5 percent of his attempts while Halston Lane has made 46.9 percent, but both fall just below the ACC minimum for three-pointers made.
Different Guy Every Night
Tech has had six different players lead the team in scoring this season, another design of the Yellow Jackets’ style of play.
Shaun Fein has led Tech on five occasions, most recently at Virginia. Tony Akins has topped Tech in four games, including North Carolina and Maryland, and Alvin Jones in four, including each of Tech’s last two games against NC State and Duke. Jon Babul is the only starter who has not led Tech in scoring in a game this season.
Three times this season, Tech has been led in scoring by a reserve, and the Jackets won each time. Halston Lane came off the bench to score 21 points Saturday against Wake Forest and had 23 against Kentucky. Darryl LaBarrie led the Jackets with 13 points against Idaho State.
Akins Thrives in Fast-Paced System
Tony Akins may be the most improved player on the floor for Georgia Tech this season, scoring when needed and distributing the ball effectively when not. The 5-11 junior point guard has been very consistent so far in all phases of his game, averaging 13.2 points and 4.5 assists per game (7th in the ACC) with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and penetrate the defense.
Akins had a hot hand shooting in Tech’s first two ACC games, making 10 of 21 three-point attempts and scoring 20 points against North Carolina and 23 at Maryland. Against Virginia and Wake Forest, he didn’t shoot well from the floor, but had 10 total assists, just 5 turnovers, and helped seal both wins with free throws. He has been in double digits in every game but five this season, with a high of 28 against UCLA.
For the season, Akins ranks 6th in the ACC in three-point percentage (40.4) and 5th in three-point field goals per game (2.47). He also shoots 74.5 percent from the foul line.
The Four-Point Play
Tony Akins managed to pull off the four-point play, making a three-point field goal while getting fouled and hitting the free throw, once in each of Georgia Tech’s two victories over UCLA and Kentucky.
Against Kentucky, his four-point play erased a 63-60 deficit in the second half and ignited a 23-7 Tech run. He also pulled off the trick late in the first half against UCLA, erasing a 20-16 deficit.
With the Assist
All of Tech’s players have participated in the Yellow Jackets’ high scoring efforts not just by scoring, but by distributing the ball.
Tech’s average of 17.5 assists per game ranks fifth in the ACC, but its percentage of assists to field goals (64.6) is the best in the ACC. Tech’s season high is 31 on 34 field goals vs. Morgan State. In ACC games, Tech has assisted on 58.5 percent of its field goals.
Only three Tech teams have ever assisted on as many as 65 percent of the team’s field goals for an entire season.
Vines Solid off the Bench
T.J. Vines notched his first double-digit game of the season Saturday with 10 points off the bench against Duke, and the fifth of his career against an ACC team. He went 4-for-8 from the floor with two treys.
The 5-10 senior isn’t counted on for scoring, but he provides lots of intangibles to help Georgia Tech. In fact, Vines has been scoreless in four games this season, but had 16 assists and seven steals in those four games.
The Woodstock, Ga., native has averaged 4.2 points and 2.4 assists this season, and also shoots 75.0 percent from the free throw line. He is also the most tenacious defender Tech has on the perimeter, and leads the team with 25 steals.
You Can’t Stop Him …
You can only hope to contain him. Darryl LaBarrie started the season averaging 6.0 points in the first three games, then went scoreless in three straight games and didn’t get off the bench against Kentucky.
Since then, the 6-3 senior from Decatur, Ga., has given the Jackets a 13-point effort against Idaho State, 14 against Morgan State, a career-high 15 against No. 17 Maryland and 7 points at No. 10 Virginia. He canned 7-of-8 field goals against the Terps and played 23 minutes, the second highest of his career, then hit 3-of-5 against Virginia.
Against Wake Forest, he scored only four points but had a career-high four assists and just one turnover, made his only field goal and both of his free throw attempts.
A solid scorer, the reserve guard has shot 64.3 percent this season, 62.5 percent in ACC games so far. He was 4-for-4 vs. Charleston Southern, 5-for-5 vs. Idaho State, 7-of-9 vs. Morgan State and 7-of-8 vs. Maryland.
Tech Fights Uphill Battle on Boards
Rebounding has been a problem for Georgia Tech this season because of its size aside from the 6-11 Alvin Jones, but the Yellow Jackets have held their own on the boards most of the time. For the first time in four ACC games, Tech won the battle of the boards against Wake Forest (40-39) and played even with Duke (37-37).
The teams who have gained a significant advantage on the boards against Tech were Iowa, Stanford, North Carolina, Maryland and NC State, which coincidentally resulted in its biggest margins of defeat, Duke notwithstanding.
Tech’s struggles are most pronounced on the offensive glass, where the Rambling Wreck has gotten just 11.9 per game this season, which ranks eighth in the league. But Tech ranks fourth in the league in defensive rebounds (26.2).
Jones, averaging 8.9 rebounds per game, is second in the ACC.
900 on the Boards
Alvin Jones passed the 900 mark in career rebounds with 10 against Wake Forest, and ranks fifth in Tech history currently with 915 baords.
The 6-11 senior, the ACC’s active leader in career rebounds, needs 41 rebounds to pass Rich Yunkus (955, 1969-71) for fourth place.
Jones also has a chance this season to become only the second player in Tech history to accumulate 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career. He has already passed the 1,000-point mark (see below), and would need to average about nine boards per game this season to reach 1,000. He is averaging 8.9.
Only Malcolm Mackey, who holds the Tech record for rebounds with 1,205 and ranks 10th in Tech history with 1,734 points, has done that.
Jones Tops 1,000 Points
Alvin Jones scored 24 points against Georgia and went over the 1,000-point barrier for his career, becoming the 31st Tech player to do so. The 6-11 senior center has 1,154 career points (tied for 25th in Tech history) and is averaging 14.3 points per game so far this season, the best of his career.
Georgia Tech’s roster includes six seniors, including scholarship players Alvin Jones, Shaun Fein, Jon Babul, T.J. Vines and Darryl LaBarrie, as well as walk-on Winston Neal. That represents Tech’s largest senior class since the 1975-76 season, when the roster included seven seniors.
Tech also has the most senior starters in the ACC, with three on the lineup for a total of 48 starts. Duke has the next most with 36.
Lewis Shows Poise Beyond Years
Freshman Marvin Lewis has grabbed a starting role and made the most of it, averaging 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds while making 41.5 percent of his three-point field goal attempts.
Named ACC Rookie of the Week three times, he is second among conference freshmen in scoring average behind Clemson’s Tony Stockman, and is third in rebound average. He is second on the Tech squad in minutes played (28.1).
Lewis would rank 6th in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage and 2nd in free throw percentage (87.9), but falls just below the ACC minimums to be listed. He has reached double figures in 10 games overall this season, with a season high of 22 against Davidson (6-of-7 from three-point range).
Despite a height disadvantage, Lewis has reached double figures in rebounds twice, 10 against Wofford and 10 against UCLA, and has led the Jackets in five games.
Lewis came to Tech from Montrose Christian School in Germantown, Md., where he was coached by Stu Vetter, who was the high school coach of former Tech great Dennis Scott, Tech’s all-time three-point field goal leader.
Rookies of the Year
Georgia Tech has gotten solid contributions from its freshmen this season, with Marvin Lewis grabbing a starting role and forwards Robert Brooks and Halston Lane coming off the bench.
The ACC’s Rookie of the Week honor has gone to a Tech freshman five times this season. Lewis earned the recognition three times, most recently on Dec. 26, and Lane garnered the honor on Dec. 11 and Jan. 15. Maurice Young of Virginia is the only other player to win the honor twice.
Brooks, a 6-9 native of Saginaw, Mich., has given the Jackets much-needed help on the front line, averaging 3.9 rebounds with eight blocks and 14 steals while shooting 47.1 percent from the floor. Having gained 20 pounds to 215 since his arrival at Tech, Brooks is averaging 18.2 minutes off the bench to lead the reserves.
Lane, a 6-4 native of Oak Ridge, Tenn., leads the Tech reserves in scoring (fifth overall) with 7.1 points per game, has shot 46.9 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free throw line.
In Tech’s win over Virginia, TV analyst Billy Packer remarked that all three would be solid ACC performers as their careers progressed.
Lane v. the Powers
Something about playing the nation’s all-time winningest basketball programs has brought out the best in Halston Lane. The 6-4 freshman from Oak Ridge, Tenn., had three of his high-scoring games against UCLA, Kentucky and North Carolina. Lane continued the trend against the two Top-10 teams the Yellow Jackets faced in the past two weeks.
The sharpshooting rookie scored 21 points against 6th-ranked Wake Forest, hitting 7 of 10 shots from the floor and 4 of 5 three-pointers. Three of the treys came in a two-minute, second-half binge that gave Tech a 55-48 lead.
Against 10th-ranked Virginia, Lane scored 10 points with 4-of-5 shooting, including a three-pointer that gave the Jackets their lead for good at 66-65 with 3:10 left in the game.
Lane scored 23 points against Kentucky and 9 against UCLA, both wins, and chipped in 11 against North Carolina. Against Kentucky, Lane was 9-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-7 from three-point range in 17 minutes. For the effort, he was named ACC Rookie of the Week, the third week in a row a Tech player had gotten the honor.
Lane’s statistics in those five games: 15.0 points per game, 69.2 percent FG (27-of-39), 69.6 percent 3FG (16-of-23). In the rest of Tech’s games: 3.8 ppg, 26.5 percent FG, 26.9 percent 3FG.
Alvin Jones became the third Georgia Tech player in three games to have a perfect shooting night from the floor, hitting all seven of his field goal attempts against Morgan State and scoring 17 points. He was 3-of-4 from the free throw line.
Against Idaho State, Shaun Fein and Darryl LaBarrie each went 5-for-5 from the floor. Fein’s total included one three-point attempt and two free throws (13 points), while LaBarrie canned two treys and was 1-for-2 from the line (13 points) in his performance off the bench. LaBarrie also went 4-for-4 against Charleston Southern.
Moore to Seek Medical Red-shirt
Sophomore forward Clarence Moore, who fractured a bone in his left foot in early September and returned to play against UCLA, will sit out the remainder of the 2000-01 season and seek a medical red-shirt.
Moore, who played in five games and averaged 1.4 points and 1.2 rebounds, experiencing pain and soreness in the foot while the team was playing in the Stanford Invitational, and was advised by doctors to give his foot more rest after the team’s return from California. He has not played in a game since.
The 6-4 sophomore, who played in all 30 games and started five last year (4.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg), sustained the injury in a pickup game on Sept. 3. He was in a hard cast for three weeks after surgery to place a pin in the bone.
Ten Players in Rotation
Tech has started the same five players in every game this season: 5-11 junior Tony Akins and 6-3 senior Shaun Fein at the guards, 6-3 freshman Marvin Lewis and 6-7 senior Jon Babul at the forwards, and 6-11 senior Alvin Jones at center.
Head coach Paul Hewitt has used a regular rotation of 10 players, with all of them averaging at least 10 minutes a game, and actually used 11 while sophomore forward Clarence Moore was in the lineup.
Dialing Long Distance
Georgia Tech owns the third-longest active streak in the nation for consecutive games with at least one three-point field goal. Tech’s streak has reached 427 games. The last team to hold the Jackets without a three-point field goal was Virginia in the 1987 ACC Tournament.
UNLV held the longest streak with 449 games entering the 2000-01 season, followed by Vanderbilt at 442 games. UNLV, Vanderbilt and Princeton (386 games) began the season as the only schools to have at least one three-pointer in every game since the rule was put in for the 1986-87 season.
Bittersweet Beginning for Hewitt
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt will always remember the early portion of his first season on the Flats, because it included victories over storied programs in UCLA and Kentucky. The 72-67 win over the Bruins was Hewitt’s 70th career victory, while the 86-84 win over Kentucky came in his 100th game as a head coach.
Tech went 2-2 against the so-called “big names” on the early portion of the schedule, the losses coming to Iowa, which has since climbed into the national Top 25, and to Stanford, ranked No. 3 at the time. All four games were played away from Alexander Memorial Coliseum, three away from Atlanta.
From the Left …
For the second year in a row, Georgia Tech features three left-handed players on its roster. Tony Akins, Clarence Moore and Halston Lane all shoot left-handed. Last season, Akins, Moore and Jason Collier were the southpaws on the squad.
Akins is the third left-handed point guard Tech has had in the last 10 years, following Kenny Anderson and Travis Best.
Tech Signs Five Early
Georgia Tech signed five players during the November early signing period. Joining the fold will be 6-4 guard Barry Elder of Madison, Ga., 6-6 forward Isma’il Muhammad of Atlanta, 6-7 forward Ed Nelson of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 6-10 center Michael Southall of West Salem, Wis., and 6-6 guard Anthony Vasser of Birmingham, Ala.
Jackets Tabbed Eighth in ACC
Georgia Tech was predicted to finish eighth in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season by a vote of the attending media at the conference’s Operation Basketball media day in late October.
The Yellow Jackets have appeared anywhere from seventh to ninth in the various pre-season magazines – 7th by The Sporting News, 8th by Dick Vitale’s and Lindy’s, and 9th by Street & Smith’s.
Georgia Tech’s basketball roster, which for the fourth consecutive year is without a player from New York, has taken on a very home-state and Southern look.
Of the 13 players on Tech’s roster, six are native Georgians, all from metropolitan Atlanta. Senior Alvin Jones is from Florida, freshman Clarence Moore is from Louisiana and freshman Halston Lane is from Tennessee.
Jon Babul (North Attleboro, Mass.), Shaun Fein (Centerville, Mass.), Marvin Lewis (Germantown, Md.) and Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.) are the only Jackets not from the Southeastern United States.
New Bench, New Uniforms
Along with its new coach, Georgia Tech is wearing new uniforms and sitting on a new bench this season.
Tech has redesigned its home and road uniforms. They still sport the block “Georgia Tech” lettering on the front with the jersey number in between, but in a different typeface. The center of the neckline features a GT logo, and the sides of the jersey and pants feature a color band bordered by blue piping from underarm to the bottom of the shorts with a GT logo at the bottom of the shorts. The players’ names are on the backs, unlike last year.
Road uniforms are gold with white lettering and blue trim, while the home uniforms are white with gold lettering and blue trim, as before.
Additionally, Tech sits on the opposite bench at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, nearest the tunnel where the teams enter the floor.
Non-Conference Streak Snapped at 13
Georgia Tech’s 75-70 loss to Georgia on Dec. 6 snapped the Yellow Jackets’ 13-game winning streak against non-conference teams at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center.
Georgia Tech is 117-5 against non-conference opposition at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the beginning of the 1981-82 season. The only non-conference teams to win at the Thrillerdome during that period are Georgia (Dec. 6, 2000), Penn State (March 18, 1998) Richmond (Dec. 22, 1987), Louisville (Jan. 15, 1989) and the College of Charleston (Jan. 16, 1993).
Back in the Thrillerdome
Georgia Tech is playing its 45th season at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center in 2000-01, and the Yellow Jackets are 6-2 on their home court this season. The Jackets have a record of 440-150 (.746) in the facility, which opened Nov. 30, 1956 with a 71-61 Tech loss to Duke.
Since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, Tech is 203-50 (.802) in its on-campus home, including a 6-2 mark last season. The Jackets are 117-5 against non-conference opponents at the Thrillerdome since 1981-82.