Dec. 16, 2002
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s basketball team plays its only home game between Dec. 1 and Jan. 8 Tuesday night, hosting Troy State at 7 p.m. Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The game is not being televised, however it can be heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP Radio Network, including WQXI-AM (790), WMGP-FM (98.1) and WSNY-FM (100.1) in the Atlanta area. Tickets ($20) are still available.
The Yellow Jackets are 4-2, having won all three prior home games this season. Tech has three more road games between Tuesday and Jan. 8. Tech is coming off a 70-69 loss to Tennessee Sunday at Philips Arena. The Volunteers scored on a half-court heave when Ron Slay inbounded the ball with .5 seconds left from under the Tech goal to Jon Higgins, who tossed up the shot and swished it at the buzzer for the win. Both of Tech’s losses this season are by a single point, away from home. The Jackets dropped a 64-63 decision at No. 20 Minnesota on Dec. 4 after its own desperation shot at the buzzer by Marvin Lewis rattled out.
Troy State arrives in Atlanta with a 6-1 mark and an impressive win on the road against Arkansas. The Trojans average more than 30 three-point attempts a game, hitting 35.5 percent of them.
“They will play very fast and probably attempt 25 to 30 three-point shots,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. “We need to be prepared to play good defense, good transition defense, contest shots, and really rebound the basketball. If we’re fortunate to force some missed shots, we’ve got to run down the long rebounds.”
“I’m happy to play. Sunday was not a good experience for us with the way the game ended,” said Hewitt. “But it’s nice to turn around 48 hours later and play again.”
In its three home games, including an 83-77 win over No. 17 Georgia on Nov. 27, Tech has outscored its opponents by an average of 22.3 points. Tech has struggled offensively of late, averaging 66 points over its last three games, and is shooting just 57.7 percent from the free throw line, but Hewitt see signs of improvement.
“Sunday was a tough game for us to lose,” said Hewitt. “But we’re not far off. Defensively, we’re a very good basketball team. Offensively, we’re not real good right now, but I see signs. Over the last five or six days, I’ve noticed some good things in how we pass the ball, and we’re making better decisions. Our shot selection has improved.
“I go back to the pre-season, and I made the point that this team will be good if we can survive some of the problems that we may have because we’re young. If we can get to late December and early January with our confidence intact, we’re going to be good. I can’t say I foresaw losing two games by one point and our free throw shooting being this poor, but here is some adversity, and we have to survive it.”
Freshmen Chris Bosh, a 6-10 forward/center, and Jarrett Jack, a 6-3 point guard, have started all five games along with 6-6 sophomore forward Isma’il Muhammad. Bosh leads Tech in scoring (16.3), rebounding (11.3) and field goal percentage (55.0). Jack has played well at the point, averaging 9.3 points and 6.3 assists per game while leading the team in steals (11) and hitting 51.6 percent of his shots from the floor. Muhammad, noted more for his defense, averages 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds.
B.J. Elder, a 6-4 sophomore guard, and 7-1 sophomore center Luke Schenscher have started the last three games for Tech. Elder is Tech’s second leading scorer at 15.6 points per game and has made 44.1 percent of his three-point field goal attempts. Schenscher averages 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds and shoots 53.3 percent from the floor.
Off the bench, Tech has Marvin Lewis, a 6-4 junior guard who averages 10.3 points and 3.6 assists, and 6-8 sophomore forward Ed Nelson, who averages 10.0 points and 7.0 rebounds. Both players started Tech’s first three games, but have been Tech’s first subs off the bench against Minnesota and Marist. Nelson, in particular, has responded well to the change, averaging 13.3 points (17-of-35 from the floor) and 6.7 rebounds in the last three games.
Tech also gets help off the bench from 6-7 sophomore Anthony McHenry, an excellent defensive player averaging 1.3 point and 2.3 rebounds. Robert Brooks, a 6-8 junior averaging 1.0 points and 1.5 rebounds per game, and 6-9 freshman Theodis Tarver (2.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg) add depth in the frontcourt.
Series vs. Troy State (tied 2-2)
The series between Georgia Tech and Troy State is tied at two wins apiece. All four prior meetings took place between 1977-81 when Dwane Morrison was the Yellow Jackets’ head coach, and all took place at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The Trojans won the most recent two encounters, a 54-50 decision on Feb. 11, 1981, and 64-59 on Jan. 12, 1980. Tech won 84-69 on Nov. 30, 1977 and 78-54 on Jan. 3, 1979.
Troy State is the second member of the Atlantic Sun Conference to face Tech this season. The Yellow Jackets defeated Gardner-Webb, 75-53, on Dec. 1, and have an all-time record of 52-26 against current members of that league.
9.5 Seconds and Two Points
Georgia Tech is 9.5 seconds and two points from being undefeated. Both of Tech’s losses occurred by a single point, away from home, and could have been significant non-conference wins for the Yellow Jackets.
Minnesota, ranked 20th in the Associated Press poll at the time, scored a basket with nine seconds left to take a 64-63 lead. Tech had the ball last, and almost didn’t get a shot off, but Marvin Lewis recovered a loose ball and tried a long three-pointer that rattled out at the buzzer.
Sunday against Tennessee, Tech’s B.J. Elder made one of two free throws with 0.5 seconds left for a 69-67 lead. But the Volunteers’ Ron Slay inbounded the ball to halfcourt, where Jon Higgins launched a desperation heave that swished at the buzzer for the victory.
In both games, Tech held the lead for most of the game. The Jackets led by 13 points (62-49) with 7:25 to go against Tennessee, but did not score a field goal the rest of the way. Tech led Minnesota, 49-42, with 10:40 left before the Gophers scored 11 straight points coming out of a timeout.
Oh My Bosh
Freshman Chris Bosh has been Georgia Tech’s anchor early this season, scoring a double-double in the first five games and missing a sixth by one rebound. He paces the Yellow Jackets in scoring (16.3), rebounding (11.3) and field goal percentage (55.0). He has also played outstanding defense, with six blocks and six steals, and has just 13 turnovers in 174 minutes of court time.
Bosh was named ACC Rookie of the Week each of the first two weeks the conference has named players of the week. He leads the ACC in rebounding and ranks eighth nationally, and tops the league in offensive rebounds (5.17 per game). He ranks seventh in the ACC in scoring and fifth in field goal percentage. He also has been to the free throw line more times than any of his teammates, hitting 31 of 48 attempts (64.6 percent).
More on Bosh: The 6-10 native of Lancaster, Texas, led Tech in its win over 17th-ranked Georgia with 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, recording a key basket that gave Tech its first lead of the game with 8:44 to go after the Jackets had once trailed by 14. At Minnesota, he scored 16 points with 12 rebounds, his last basket a breakaway dunk that gave Tech a 63-62 lead with 26 seconds left.
Elder Returns to Form
B.J. Elder, Tech’s 6-4 sophomore guard, missed the season-opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff because of a sore foot, but has shown no ill effects from it since.
The Madison, Ga., native has reached double figures in four of the five games he has played, and ranks ninth in the ACC in scoring at 15.6 points per game, with high games of 24 points in his first game back against Georgia and 21 Sunday against Tennessee. He returned to the starting lineup Dec. 4 at Minnesota and scored 12 points, including a pair of three-pointers, against the 20th-ranked Golden Gophers.
Elder, an ACC all-Freshman choice a year ago, has been particularly effective from three-point range, making 48.4 percent (15-of-31) to rank third in the ACC. Elder was 5-of-8 from that range Sunday against the Volunteers.
Against Georgia, he made 10 of 18 field goals and was 4-of-9 from three-point range. His final three-pointer gave Tech the lead for good at 79-77 with 1:50 to go. He sat the rest of the game after suffering leg cramps.
Tech at The Thrillerdome
Georgia Tech is 123-8 against non-conference opposition at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, an impressive mark indeed. But three of those eight losses occurred last season to Penn, Tulane and IUPUI. From 1981 through last season, the only other non-ACC teams to win at the Thrillerdome were Georgia (Dec. 6, 2000), Penn State (March 18, 1998), the College of Charleston (Jan. 16, 1993), Louisville (Jan. 15, 1989), and Richmond (Dec. 22, 1987).