Jan. 8, 2002
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech goes on the road for the first time in nearly a month Thursday with a visit to No. 1 Duke in a nationally televised game on ESPN. Both teams are coming off conference losses last weekend, Tech (7-8, 0-2 ACC) falling at home, 83-76, to Clemson, and Duke (12-1, 1-1) suffering an upset at Florida State, 77-76.
Radio coverage in Atlanta can be found on WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1), WSNY-FM (100.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1).
Head coach Paul Hewitt takes four freshmen to Cameron Indoor Stadium for their first experience in the Blue Devils’ famous home arena.
“What makes Cameron a hard place to play is the guys they have on their team,” said Hewitt. “They’ve got great players and they’ve got one of the best teams in the country. Even though they lost Sunday night, I think everyone still feels they’re one of the favorites to get to the Final Four and possibly win the national championships. We’ve got to keep their players under control, and if we can do that, then we can keep the crowd under control.”
Tech, which has been balanced offensively and averages 77.5 points a game, is led primarily by the backcourt tandem of 5-11 Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.) and 6-4 Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.). Akins, Tech’s point guard, ranks among the Top 10 in the ACC in scoring and assists at 16.2 points and 5.7 assists per game. Lewis is Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures with 13.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He has hit 42.6 percent of his three-point attempts, best on the team, while Akins is 9-for-14 in his last two games and is hitting 42.0 percent from behind the arc.
The rest of Tech’s starting five since the Dec. 29 IUPUI game has been 6-5 Clarence Moore (So., Norco, La.) and 6-7 Ed Nelson (Fr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at the forwards and 6-8 Robert Brooks (So., Saginaw, Mich.) at center.
Moore, who scored 16 points against Clemson, averages 8.5 points and 4.9 rebounds. Nelson averages 6.1 points and a team-leading 6.7 rebounds, which also tops all ACC freshmen. Brooks, who moved into the starting lineup on Nov. 28, averages 5.5 points and 6.4 rebounds.
B.J. Elder (Fr., Madison, Ga.) and Halston Lane (So., Oak Ridge., Tenn.) are Tech’s top scorers off the bench, Elder at 9.5 and Lane at 8.8 per game. Also coming off the bench are 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), who has missed two games with a hip injury but is averaging 7.1 points and 3.1 rebounds, and 6-5 guard Anthony McHenry (Fr., Birmingham, Ala.), 2.0 ppg, who scored 13 vs. Cornell.
“We’ve got to play a little bit smarter and continue to play hard,” Hewitt said. “Clemson played a great game and took advantage of some of our breakdowns Saturday. In watching film, our players have a much better idea of how much we hurt have ourselves at times this season. If we go out and make some of the same mistakes against Duke, they’re really going to capitalize on them. Our film session today was great, and our practice was enthusiastic. We’ve got to continue that Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Tech Series vs. Duke
Georgia Tech has not defeated Duke since the 1995-96 season, when the Yellow Jackets swept the season series with the Blue Devils, 86-81 at Durham and 73-71 in Atlanta. Duke has won the last 10 meetings and has a 47-20 lead since the teams began playing in 1922.
Duke has won 24 of 28 games played at Cameron Indoor Stadium, including a 98-54 win last Feb. 21. The Blue Devils took a 98-77 decision in Atlanta.
During its 10-game winning streak against Tech, Duke’s margin over victory has been 22.1 points, with the closest game an 8-point decision in Atlanta (87-79) on Feb. 6, 1999. Duke has been ranked sixth or higher in the Associated Press poll for each of the last eight meetings, and Thursday night’s game will be the ninth time Tech has faced a Duke team ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Tech vs. No. 1
Duke remains ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll this week because the deadline for voting occurred prior to the Blue Devils’ loss Sunday to Florida State. Thus, Georgia Tech is meeting a No. 1-ranked Duke team for the ninth time. Only once in those eight previous encounters has Tech won, an 80-79 thriller in Atlanta on Jan. 10, 1993.
Tech is 7-29 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in the nation, the vast majority of those contests and all of the wins coming against Kentucky (3-9), North Carolina (3-9) and Duke (1-7). In five of the seven wins, Tech was unranked.
The Yellow Jackets’ last win over a No. 1-ranked team was a 96-89 triumph at North Carolina on Feb. 12, 1994 (Tech was unranked).
Akins At The Point
Tony Akins, who made his 101st career start vs. Clemson, has been Georgia Tech’s most consistent offensive player, scoring in double digits in 13 of 15 games and leading the Jackets in scoring at 16.2 points per game (7th in the ACC) while averaging 5.7 assists (6th in the ACC).
Akins has scored 20 or more in each of Tech’s last two games, 22 against Cornell and 20 against Clemson, while hitting 9-of-14 three-point attempts.
The 5-11 senior has made 42 percent of his three-point attempts this season and has a 1.67-1 assist-turnover ratio. His 5.7 assists per game are a career high, more than a full assist better than his career-best rate of 4.5 as a freshman. He has had three double-digit assist games this year.
Akins ranks seventh in career assists (469), having passed Kenny Anderson for that spot in the Cornell game, and 8th in steals (140). He has 1,362 career points, jumping to 18th place in Tech history after beginning the year in 28th. He needs two points to move past Bobby Kimmel (1,363 points, 1954-57) for 17th place.
Lewis Finds His Mark
Marvin Lewis has established himself as one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC, hitting 42.6 percent of his attempts this season, which would rank third in the ACC if he met the league-minimum of two made per game. He falls four three-pointers shy of the minimum. The 6-4 sophomore has been very consistent offensively of late, scoring in double figures in seven of eight games and averaging 14.1 points. Lewis has taken his game inside more, hitting 46.7 percent of his shots overall in that stretch.
He also is one of the ACC’s top marksmen from the foul line, hitting 87.3 percent from the stripe on a team-high 55 attempts. He hit 8-of-9 against Clemson and has had three games where he was 6-for-6 (Illinois, Davidson, Wofford). He has averaged 4.4 free throw attempts over the last eight games, compared with 3.1 in the first seven games.
A Balanced Attack
Only two Yellow Jackets, Tony Akins (16.2 ppg) and Marvin Lewis (13.6 ppg), are averaging in double-figures for the season, but Georgia Tech has been balanced offensively for the past month, placing at least four players in double figures in eight of the last nine games (three did against Clemson).
Eight different players are averaging better than five points per game, including six who are scoring seven points per game or more. Nine different Yellow Jackets have scored in double figures at least once this season.
Overall, Tech has averaged 77.5 points per game this season, nearly two points per game better than last season.
Offense Clicking Since Las Vegas
Georgia Tech has emerged from the offensive slump it experienced in the Las Vegas Invitational and against Wisconsin, averaging 82.2 points in the last nine games. That includes 96 points against 13th-ranked Syracuse on Dec. 16, its highest scoring output since 97 in the season opener against Florida A&M, 92 points vs. IUPUI and 86 vs. Cornell. The low point in that stretch was a 69-point night against Tulane.
Elder and Lane Lead Tech off the Bench
Freshman B.J. Elder has scored in double digits in four of the last five games, averaging 12.2 points and hitting 42.9 percent of his shots (24-of-56) during that stretch.
Halston Lane, who started three games before returning to reserve duty against IUPUI, has scored in double figures in four of his last six games and six of the last nine, averaging 10.6 points in the last nine games. He has hit 16 of 38 three-pointers (42.1 percent) in that stretch.
Elder and Lane are Tech’s top two scorers off the bench at 9.5 and 8.8 points per game, respectively.
Tech Holding Its Own On The Boards
Rebounding and size were pre-season concerns for head coach Paul Hewitt, but the Yellow Jackets have gotten off to a good start on the boards despite having no player taller than 6-8 for the last nine games. Tech has outrebounded its opponents by an average of more than five per game (41.8 to 36.3), and has beaten nine of 15 opponents on the boards.
Even with 6-11 Alvin Jones leading the ACC in rebounding a year ago, Tech struggled as a team, being outrebounded 40-to-37.5 for the season.
More impressive is the fact that Tech has averaged 16.47 offensive rebounds, which ranks second in the ACC. Three Tech players – Robert Brooks (2.73), Ed Nelson (2.47) and Clarence Moore (2.40) – rank among the ACC’s top 15 in offensive rebounds.
Taking Better Care of the Ball
Despite its struggles in other areas, Georgia Tech has taken better care of the ball over the last six games, averaging just 13.3 turnovers, including a season-low eight each against IUPUI and Cornell.
Tech averaged 19.1 turnovers over its first eight games, including three games with more than 20.
Tech Stronger at the Line
Georgia Tech has shown modest improvement this season from the free throw line (69.9 percent), and have six players over 70 percent from the stripe.
Getting to the free throw line has been key to Tech in its victories. The Jackets have averaged 24.1 free throws in their seven wins, 17.1 in their losses.
Besides freshman Ed Nelson, who has struggled at 46.5 percent on 43 attempts, second most on the team, Tech has an aggregate free throw percentage of 73.8 percent. Tech has not shot 70 percent from the stripe for an entire season since the 1995-96 season (70.3).
Shuffling the Lineup
Facing a roster with five new scholarship players, head coach Paul Hewitt used his fifth different starting lineup vs. IUPUI, tinkering to find that right combination. The backcourt duo of Tony Akins and Marvin Lewis are the only players to have started all 15 games this season, while eight different players have started at least one game.
Sophomore swingman Halston Lane cracked the starting five for the first time in his career against Davidson, while freshman Ed Nelson came off the bench for the first time this season. Nelson returned to the lineup for IUPUI and has started the last three games.
Despite who starts the game, Hewitt is still using a nine-man rotation while Schenscher is out with a foot injury (see below). Counting Schenscher, 10 different Yellow Jackets are averaging at least 10 minutes a game.
Bench a Key Component for Tech
Playing with a 10-man rotation (nine now with the absence of Schenscher) since the arrival of head coach Paul Hewitt, Georgia Tech has come to rely more heavily on its bench. They have provided the Jackets some real spark offensively through the early going this season.
Tech’s reserves have contributed 32.8 points per game in the four outings prior to the Clemson game, in which the bench contributed a season-low nine points. Tech’s bench scored 46 points Dec. 1 at North Carolina and 40 vs. Florida A&M in the season opener.
This season, Tech has gotten 26.8 points per game from its bench (27.1 in Tech’s victories), roughly 35 percent of its total scoring output of 77.5 points per game. Tech has had a double-figure scorer off the bench in 10 games this season.
Last year, Tech received 20.4 points per game from its reserves, 25 percent of its total scoring output.
Akins For Three
Tony Akins has made his mark as one of the top three-point shooters in Georgia Tech history. Only Dennis Scott (351-for-831) and Travis Best (258-for-656) rank ahead of Akins on Tech’s career lists for three-point field goals made and attempted.
Akins, who is 253-for-683 in his career (37.0 percent), has risen to 11th place on the all-time ACC list for three-point field goals made. In his junior and senior years taken together, Akins has posted an accuracy rate of 42.0 percent.
Scott, who set his records in three seasons, shot 42.2 percent from three-point range in his career.
“Mo” Better Moore
Sophomore forward Clarence Moore, who broke a bone in his left foot in early September of last year and played just five games last season, has become more consistently productive for the Yellow Jackets of late.
After a two-game absence from the starting lineup, Clarence Moore got back in the lineup for Georgia (Dec. 9) and responded with a career-high 20 points with 7 assists against Syracuse, which earned him ACC co-Player of the Week honors, and a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) in the following game against Davidson.
The 6-5 sophomore has averaged 10.9 points the last seven games and has hit 44.1 percent of his field goals. He ranks second overall in field goal percentage (45.1) for Tech and is the team’s fourth-leading rebounder (4.9).
Moore sustained the injury in a pickup game on Sept. 3, 2000, and underwent two surgical procedures, one in September and one in February, before being cleared to play in August. His request for a medical hardship was approved by the NCAA, and he has three years of eligibility remaining.
Unlike last season, when Georgia Tech’s roster included five seniors, this year’s roster features five freshmen and four sophomores, no juniors and two seniors among its scholarship players.
With Michael Isenhour sidelined this season while being treated for leukemia, Tony Akins is the only active senior. The remaining minutes are spread among sophomores Clarence Moore, Marvin Lewis, Halston Lane and Robert Brooks, as well as the freshman group of guards B.J. Elder and Anthony McHenry, forwards Ed Nelson and Isma’il Muhammad and center Luke Schenscher (who is out with a broken foot).
As a result, Tech has more starts by freshmen and sophomores combined (60) than any other ACC team, almost completely opposite of last year, when Tech led the ACC last season in senior starts.
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 453 games. The last team to hold the Jackets without a three-point field goal was Virginia in the 1987 ACC Tournament.
UNLV, Vanderbilt and Princeton are the only schools to have at least one three-pointer in every game since the rule was put in for the 1986-87 season.
Consecutive Games Scoring a Three-Point Field Goal (through Jan. 6)487-Vanderbilt, Nov. 28, 1986 to present486-UNLV, Nov. 26, 1986 to present453-Georgia Tech, March 13, 1987 to present453-Kentucky, Nov. 28, 1988 to present424-Princeton, Nov. 19, 1986 to present
Georgia Tech (7-8, 0-2) vs. No. 1 Duke (12-1, 1-1)January 10, 2002 o 9 p.m. o Cameron Indoor Stadium o Durham, N.C.
TV: ESPN, Mike Patrick, pbp, Brad Daugherty, color Radio: WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1), WSNY-FM (100.1), WLKQ-FM (102.3) Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 7-8, 0-2 ACC (H: 4-4, A: 0-2, N: 3-2) Series vs. Duke: Duke leads 47-20 Vs. Duke at Cameron: Duke leads 24-4 Last year’s meetings: Duke won, 98-77 in Atlanta, 98-54 in Durham Hewitt Record: 90-48 (.652), 5th season Hewitt at Tech: 24-21 (.533), 2nd season Last game: Jan. 5, Clemson d. Tech, 83-76, at AMC Next game: Jan. 13, Maryland, 2 p.m., AMC [ESPN] More info: Ramblinwreck.com
Probable Starters F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 8.5 ppg 4.9 rpg F 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 6.1 ppg 6.7 rpg C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 5.5 ppg 6.4 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 16.2 ppg 5.7 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 13.6 ppg 5.0 rpg