ATLANTA – Georgia Tech opens its first Atlantic Coast Conference schedule under head coach Paul Hewitt Tuesday night at 8 p.m., hosting 14th-ranked North Carolina at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center. The game finishes a three-game homestand in which the Yellow Jackets have beaten Morgan State and Harvard by an average of 33.5 points.
The game will be televised by the Raycom/JP Sports Network (WHOT-TV, Ch. 34 in Atlanta), and will be broadcast on the Georgia Tech/ISP Radio Network (WGST, 640 AM in Atlanta).
Beginning with North Carolina (9-2), Tech (8-3) faces five Top 20 teams in the next six games. Prior to the current homestand, Tech came through the most difficult portion of its pre-conference schedule 3-3, with wins over UCLA (72-67) and Kentucky (86-84) and road losses to Iowa (85-67) and Stanford (80-66). The Jackets toppled Harvard, 90-59, in their last game on Thursday.
Tech had four players in double figures against Harvard, led by Tony Akins with 19 points (5-of-6 from three-point range), Marvin Lewis with 17 and Shaun Fein with 10. Alvin Jones scored 13 with a season-high 15 rebounds and 8 blocked shots. The Jackets outrebounded the Crimson, 57-35.
Four Tech players are averaging in double figures in scoring, led by 6-3 guard Fein at 15.9 points per game, 6-11 center Jones at 14.3 (with 9.4 rebounds per game), 5-11 guard Tony Akins at 12.7 (with 5.1 assists) and 6-3 swingman Marvin Lewis at 11.7. Jon Babul, a 6-7 forward, is the fifth Tech starter, averaging 4.8 points.
Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina
North Carolina holds a 49-14 all-time lead in the series with Georgia Tech, a series that began in 1925. Since Tech joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Tar Heels have a 35-12 advantage.
Tech is 5-10 against UNC at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Tar Heels won last year’s meeting, 70-53, and also took the contest between the two teams at Chapel Hill, 74-72, in overtime.
North Carolina has won four straight from Tech, with the Yellow Jackets’ last victory a 66-64 decision on Dec. 22, 1998. Both of Tech’s leading scorers in that game (Jason Floyd 18, Jason Collier 17) graduated last year. Jon Babul scored 9 in that game, Alvin Jones and T.J. Vines 6 each and Tony Akins and Darryl LaBarrie 5 each.
In the overtime game last year in Chapel Hill, Collier and Floyd were again Tech’s leading scorers, but Shaun Fein contributed 13 points and Akins had 11.
Tech Players vs. North Carolina
Tony Akins scored 11 in each meeting with North Carolina last year and is Tech’s top career scorer vs. the Tar Heels at 9.6 per game. In five games vs. UNC, Akins is 10-of-35 from three-point range.
Shaun Fein averaged 9.5 points in the two meetings last year, and Alvin Jones has averaged 9.4 points and 8.1 rebounds in seven career games against the Heels. (See full career statistics vs. UNC on page 7).
Rugged Road Ahead
Tech’s game with 14th-ranked North Carolina begins a stretch of five games out of six against Top 25 opposition.
After UNC, the Yellow Jackets visit No. 18 Maryland and No. 8 Virginia in the next two games, then host No. 4 Wake Forest on Jan. 13. After a visit to NC State, Tech hosts No. 3 Duke.
The Jackets have played just one ranked team this season, an 80-66 loss to then-No. 3 Stanford on Dec. 19 in Palo Alto. Tech has defeated Kentucky (86-84) and UCLA (72-67), which both began the season in the Top 25 but were not ranked at the time of the game. Tech lost 85-67 at Iowa, unranked at the time but in the Top 25 now.
Back in the Thrillerdome
Tech’s game against North Carolina finishes a three-game home stand for the Yellow Jackets. Tech returns home on Jan. 13 to face Wake Forest. The Jackets are 5-1 on their home court this season, the only loss to Georgia on Dec. 6.
Tech is playing its 45th season at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center in 2000-01. The Jackets have a record of 439-149 (.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 202-49 (.803) in its on-campus home, including an 11-3 mark last season. The Jackets are 117-5 against non-conference opponents at the Thrillerdome since 1981-82.
Pre-conference Performance Encouraging
Georgia Tech’s pre-conference schedule offered much encouragement to the Yellow Jackets with an 8-3 start that included victories over traditional powers Kentucky and UCLA, both away from home. Tech was 7-6 heading onto conference play last year.
The difference has been defense. Tech has allowed just 66.1 points per game, almost 10 points a game fewer than last year going into the conference schedule. Only one of the eight teams Tech has beaten managed more than 62 points, that being Kentucky in an 86-84 victory.
In eight wins so far, Tech has averaged 86.2 points a game and outscored the opposition by 24.1 points a game. In its seven pre-conference wins last year, Tech averaged 86.7 points but outscored the opponents by just 13.3, with all scoring at least 65.
So far this year, Tech is 7-0 when holding opponents under 70 points, and 6-0 when holding them under 40 percent on field goals.
Fein is Fine Again
Senior guard Shaun Fein has been on a roll for the last seven games, averaging 16.9 points against UCLA, Georgia, Kentucky, Idaho State, Stanford, Morgan State and Harvard
In that stretch, Fein has made 49 of 84 field goal attempts (58.3 percent), 21-for-46 from three-point land (45.7 percent).
He has reclaimed the Tech lead in scoring at 15.9 points per game (10th in the ACC), ranks eighth in the ACC in field goal percentage (54.6), sixth in three-point percentage (42.3) and fourth in three-point field goals per game (2.73). One of Tech’s better ballhandlers, Fein has just 11 turnovers in 11 games.
The 6-3 senior guard 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. Against Idaho State, he was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor.
Fein scored 22 against Georgia and 18 against Kentucky, including the game-winning field goal against the Wildcats from the left baseline with 1.3 seconds left.
Jones Hot Since California
Alvin Jones, who made the all-tournament team in the Stanford Invitational, has been even better since coming home.
The 6-11 senior went 7-for-7 and scored 17 points against Morgan State, then notched his 24th career double-double against Harvard, scoring 13 points (4-of-6 FG) with 15 rebounds and a season-high eight blocked shots.
Jones ranks 15th in the ACC in scoring (14.3), second in rebounding (9.4), first in blocked shots (3.81) and fifth in field goal percentage (59.1).
The ACC’s active leader in double-doubles, Jones had 24 points and 13 rebounds against Georgia and 15 points and 14 boards against Davidson. He just missed a double-double in each of the first two Tech games by a single rebound.
One-Man SWAT Team
Alvin Jones, who broke Georgia Tech’s career blocked shot record late in his sophomore season, rejected eight shots against Harvard Thursday, a season high, and has taken over the ACC lead in blocks with 3.82 per game.
The 6-11 senior has had at least one block in every game this season. He has failed to block a shot in only five games his entire career, three last season and two as a sophomore.
It took only 60 games for Alvin 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 366 rejections in 105 games, fourth on the ACC list, for a career average of 3.49 per game.
Tech Keeps on Shooting
Head coach Paul Hewitt’s team has met his expectations in shooting. Except for Tech’s loss to Georgia, its first poor-shooting game this season (34.7 percent), Tech has been fairly consistent, hitting 45.8 percent from the floor overall and 40.4 percent from three-point range.
Tech has had just three games in which it has shot 50 percent or better overall, the last one a 52.2-percent effort against Morgan State.
Tech leads the ACC in three-point field goals per game (9.73 per game) and ranks third in three-point percentage. The Jackets have exceeded 40 percent from beyond the arc seven times in 11 games, including 41.4 vs. Kentucky and 48.0 vs. Stanford.
Shaun Fein paces the Jackets from three-point range (42.3) and is second overall (54.6), boosted by a 14-for-18 performance (7-of-9 from three-point land) in the Stanford Invitational. Alvin Jones leads Tech at 59.1 percent and ranks fifth in the ACC. Tony Akins has hit 43.3 percent from behind the arc, Marvin Lewis has hit 45.8 percent, both ranking among the ACC’s top 10.
A Lid on the Other Basket
Dating back to last season’s regular season finale against Clemson, Georgia Tech has held eight of 13 opponents under 40 percent shooting from the floor. Idaho State shot 30.6 percent and Harvard managed just 30.1 percent in recent games.
Only five teams — Iowa (47.3-percent), Georgia (46 percent), Kentucky (45.2), Stanford (43.9) and Morgan State (42.4), have shot better than 40 percent against the Jackets this season, three of them resulting in losses.
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.
Five of Tech’s opponents have managed no better than 30 percent from three-point range, including Stanford, which made 6-of-20. Harvard was 5-of-21 (23.8 percent).
For the season, Tech has allowed opponents just 36.8 percent from the floor, which ranks third in the ACC and 11th nationally, and 30.6 percent from three-point range.
Moore Misses Two Straight
Sophomore forward Clarence Moore, who fractured a bone in his left foot in early September and returned to play against UCLA, has missed two straight games after experiencing pain in the foot in the Idaho State game.
Moore, who has played in five games and averaged 1.4 points and 1.2 rebounds, came back to play 10 minutes against Stanford, but was advised by doctors to give his foot more rest since the team’s return from California. He did not play against Morgan State or Harvard, and could be red-shirted.
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 in early September. He was in a hard cast for three weeks after surgery to place a pin in the bone.