Dec. 29, 2010
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech begins its post-Christmas schedule Friday with a 1 p.m. game against Mercer at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, tipping off a two-game weekend homestand that also includes a 6 p.m. game against Charlotte.
These two games are the last out-of-conference contests for the Jackets before they begin play in the Atlantic Coast Conference Jan, 8 at Boston College. They also end a longer-than-scheduled break between games. Tech had been scheduled to host Fordham Monday, but the game was cancelled when the severe winter storm that hit the East Coast last weekend left the Rams unable to travel to Atlanta.
Tech (6-5) has won two of its last three games, but dropped a 62-57 decision at Siena in its last game on Dec. 22. The Yellow Jackets, who have victories over UTEP and Richmond this year away from home and a near-miss loss to No. 9 Syracuse, are 4-1 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum this season, the only belmish being a 1-point loss to Georgia on Dec. 7.
Head coach Paul Hewitt’s team returns two starters and eight letterwinners from a team that won three games in last year’s ACC Tournament to reach the championship game, then won their first-round game in the NCAA Tournament. Tech has been picked to finish ninth in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Mercer comes to Atlanta with a 3-9 overall mark following a 64-63 home loss to Charlotte Thursday, and an 0-2 start in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Bears, in their third season under head coach Bob Hoffman, have lost two straight games and are 0-5 in road games this season.
The Yellow Jackets have played the majority of their 2010-11 schedule to date away from Alexander Memorial Coliseum. But Tech’s final three non-conference games, including a Feb. 16 game with Chattanooga, all are at home.
Hewitt is in his 11th season at Tech, the third-longest tenure of any ACC head coach behind Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (30th season) and Maryland’s Gary Williams (22nd season), and has a record of 183-149.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-5, 0-0 ACC) vs. Mercer Bears (3-9, 0-2 Atlantic Sun) Date: Friday, December 31, 2010
Tipoff: 1 p.m. Eastern time
Site: Alexander Memorial Coliseum (capacity 9,191), Atlanta, Ga.
Radio: Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, live on flagship station WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY-FM (106.7) – Wes Durham, play-by-play; Randy Waters, color.
Satellite Radio: Sirius Ch. 212; XM Ch. 190
On the web: www.Ramblinwreck.com; www.twitter/com/gtathletics; www.facebook.com/gtathletics
Tickets: www.ramblinwreck.com/tickets or 888-TECH-TIX
Tech Record Breakdown: 4-1 at home, 0-3 on the road, 2-1 neutral
Series History: Tech leads, 27-16 (16-7 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum)
At Alexander Memorial Coliseum: Georgia Tech is 550-189 in its 54th and final season in the building.
Series History – Tech vs. Mercer
Among teams outside the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Southeastern Conference, Mercer is the most frequent opponent for Georgia Tech in its basketball history (see list on page 3).
Tech and Mercer will play for the 44th time Friday, and for the third straight year. The Yellow Jackets have a 27-16 lead in the overall series, and have won 16 of the 23 prior meetings at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Tech defeated the Bears last year in Atlanta, 85-74, on Nov. 27, and escaped with an 82-76 overtime decision in Macon on Nov. 22, 2008, and have won eight in a row over the Bears dating back to 1974.
Tech has long histories with most members of the SEC due to its membership in the conference from 1933-64. But Tech has played more games against Mercer than any team outside the ACC or SEC. South Carolina, who was not an SEC member when Tech was, is the next most frequent opponent (42 games).
Ticket Policy for Fordham Cancellation
Georgia Tech’s game with Fordham, which was cancelled Monday, will not be rescheduled. Patrons who hold single-game tickets to Monday’s game can exchange those for tickets to Friday’s game vs. Mercer (1 p.m.) or Sunday’s game vs. Charlotte (6 p.m.) at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Fans wishing to make the exchange should do so at the ticket booth at Gate 1 (10th Street side of the Coliseum) beginning 90 minutes prior to tipoff.
Season-ticket holders will be credited for the face value of the ticket ($20) on their accounts for the 2011-12 season.
Jackets Make Major Strides With Free Throws and Ballhandling
Two of Georgia Tech’s biggest issues of the recent past – turnovers and free throw percentage – have improved dramatically this season.
Tech has averaged 13 turnovers per game this season, which is down 3.4 per game from a year ago. That figure ranks 70th in the nation this week, which doesn’t sound so impressive until you compare it with the last two years (314th in 2008-09 and 318th in 2009-10).
Tech’s turnover margin (+4.5 per game) has improved from 246th nationally to 19th.
On the free throw front, Tech is up nearly 7 percent from a year ago (from 65.7 percent to 72.6 percent this year). The last two years, the Jackets have ranked 309th and 265th, respectively. This year, they are 76th.
Shumpert Building on Defensive Reputation
Junior guard Iman Shumpert has developed into one of the top defensive players in the Atlantic Coast Conference and the nation. He consistently draws the opponent’s top perimeter or wing scorer for his defensive assignment.
This season, for example, te 6-5 native of Oak Park, Ill., has successfully contained top scorers such as UTEP’s Randy Culpepper and Richmond’s Kevin Anderson, helping the Jackets win both games.
Culpepper, who came into the game with Tech averaging more than 20 points a game, scored just 13 against the Jackets while missing all 6 of his three-point shots in the 71-61 Tech win. Anderson, last year’s Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, had averaged more than 17 points a game this season, but managed only 12 (5-of-12 FG) against Shumpert and the Jackets and wasn’t a factor in the 67-54 Tech victory.
Last season, Shumpert’s signature performance came in the Yellow Jackets’ first-round win over Oklahoma State, when he held the Big 12 Player of the Year James Anderson to just 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting (0-for-6 on 3s).
Shumpert is averaging 2.6 steals per game this season, which ranks second in the ACC and 13th nationally. That’s more than a half-steal better than his 2009-10 average (1.9 per game), which also ranked second in the ACC.