Feb. 27, 2009
With both teams rested from not having a mid-week game, Georgia Tech visits fourth-ranked North Carolina in a nationally-televised (CBS) Atlantic Coast Conference game Saturday afternoon at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The game will air in Atlanta on WGCL-TV (Ch. 46). Radio coverage is provided by the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on Tech flagship station WQXI-AM (790) and WTSH-FM (107.1).
Looking to end a six-game losing streak, Tech (10-16 overall, 1-12 ACC), has lost 11 of its last 12 games, the lone victory a 76-74 triumph over No. 6 Wake Forest on Jan. 31. The Yellow Jackets, three games behind Virginia in the loss column at the bottom of the ACC standings, have not played since an 81-73 homecourt loss to No. 13 Clemson last Sunday.
North Carolina (24-3 overall, 10-3 ACC), which began the season as the nation’s top-ranked team, has a 1-1/2-game lead over Clemson and Duke in the ACC standings. The Tar Heels had won 10 straight games before falling in overtime Saturday at Maryland, 88-85.
The Tar Heels are the last of three consecutive top-25 teams the Jackets will play. Tech is 1-4 against top-25 teams this year, 29-58 against them under head coach Paul Hewitt. The Jackets’ last road victory over a top-25 team occurred during its Final Four season of 2004, a 76-68 win at No. 3 Duke.
Tech is 4-18 at the Smith Center, and has not won there since Feb. 10, 1996, a 92-83 overtime victory.
After having its first 10 conference games this season decided by an average of 5.6 points, Tech has lost its last three games by an average of 16 points. NC State, Wake Forest and Clemson each shot better than 50 percent from the floor and averaged 84.6 points against the Yellow Jackets.
Quick Look at Tech
Georgia Tech has relied heavily on post players Gani Lawal (15.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg), Alade Aminu (12.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and Zachery Peacock (9.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg), who rank 1-2-5 on the team in scoring and 1-2-3 in rebounding. Lawal leads the ACC in rebounding and is third in field goal percentage, while Aminu ranks fourth in rebounding and field goal percentage.
Freshman Iman Shumpert, starting at the point in Miller’s absence, is Tech’s third-leading scorer overall (11.4 ppg) and in conference games (12.0 ppg). Tech’s top shooting threat (33.7 pct. from three-point range) among its guards, Shumpert ranks third in the ACC and 39th nationally in assists with 5.2 per game.
Senior Lewis Clinch has started the last 19 games after missing the first seven games due to academic ineligibility. He has struggled with his outside shot most of the season, hitting just 30.7 percent from three-point range, but has connected on 12-of-22 in the last two games while averaging 25.5 points.
Freshman Nick Foreman, a walk-on who has played in every game this season because of his defensive abilities, made his first start Feb. 18 at Wake Forest and will start again Saturday at the other guard spot.
Sophomore Moe Miller, who averages 5.9 points and 4.3 assists per game, and sophomore Lance Storrs (4.3 ppg, 37.3 pct. from three-point range) are the key reserves in the backcourt. Miller scored 11 points, had five assists and just one turnover last time out against Clemson. Brad Sheehan, a 7-foot sophomore averaging 2.5 points and 2.1 rebounds, is a key reserve in the post.
Three-Guard Lineup Produces Mixed Results
It allowed junior Zachery Peacock, who has played the small forward position for most of this season, to return to the strong forward position where he is most effective. Until Jan. 25, Tech started two guards along with Peacock, Aminu and sophomore Gani Lawal in the front court.
The alignment has worked well for Aminu, not so well for Miller, who was replaced in the starting five for the last two games by walk-on Nick Foreman. After his 11-point, 5-assist, 1-turnover game last Sunday against Clemson, Miller will return to the lineup against North Carolina.
Miller, a 6-1 sophomore averaging 4.9 points and 3.7 assists in ACC games, has struggled the entire season, suffering two concussions and missing seven games with a broken nose. Foreman, a 6-3 freshman from Bellaire, Texas, averaging 1.8 points per game, has provided energy and hustle on the defensive end, but has not scored in either of his starts.
For Aminu’s part, the 6-10 senior has averaged 11.3 points and 7.9 rebounds in eight games coming off the bench, having reached double figures in six of those games. He has shot 50.7 percent from the floor and blocked 15 shots.
Series With North Carolina
> North Carolina has an overwhelming 59-20 lead in the all-time series between the two teams, and a 45-18 advantage since Tech joined the ACC. The Tar Heels have won 18 of the last 25 meetings.
> Tech won two of the three meetings between the two teams in 2003-04, the first time the Yellow Jackets won the season series with the Tar Heels since 1996, including an 83-82 victory in the ACC Tournament. Counting ACC and Southern Intercollegiate (SIC) Tournament games played in the city, Tech is 12-21 vs. North Carolina in Atlanta.
> Tech is 6-10 against UNC under Paul Hewitt, but 6-3 in games played away from Chapel Hill, including a pair of ACC Tournament wins. The Jackets are 4-5 against the Tar Heels under Roy Williams, and 4-6 against Williams all-time.
> Tech’s last win in the Tar Heels’ home arena was a 92-83 overtime triumph on Feb. 10, 1996, and the Jackets have lost nine straight in the Smith Center since then. The closest calls for Tech in the last eight meetings in Chapel Hill were a two-point loss in 2000 and a one-point defeat in 2003. Counting regular-season games in Greensboro, Tech is 4-25 on the road against UNC. Tech is 4-17 in the Smith Center.
> Tech’s greatest success in its series with North Carolina occurred during the middle 1990s when the Jackets won five of seven meetings, including three straight wins over No. 1-ranked Tar Heel teams during the 1993 and 1994 campaigns.
Tech Players vs. North Carolina
Alade Aminu – did not score (four rebounds) in 14 minutes in last year’s 83-82 loss at home … 2.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3-of-7 FG in three career games vs. the Tar Heels
Lewis Clinch – five points (2-6 FG, 1-5 3FG) in 22 minutes in last year’s meeting … 5.5 ppg, 4-of-10 FG, 3-of-8 on threes in two career games vs. the Tar Heels
Gani Lawal – 13 points (6-9 FG), seven rebounds in last year’s meeting Moe Miller – seven points (3-7 FG), five assists in 25 minutes in last year’s meeting
Zachery Peacock – posted first career double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds, 7-13 FG, 2 blocks) in last year’s meeting … 8.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 13-of-24 FG (54.2 pct.) in three career games vs. the Tar Heels
Brad Sheehan – has not played against North Carolina
Lance Storrs – has not played against North Carolina
Quoting Coach Hewitt
On having the week off – “If there’s ever a group that needed a week off, it’s my group right now. The guys are a little banged up and need this week of rest. Gani (Sunday), he was kind of drained. I could see it in the first time out. You could look in Iman (Shumpert)’s eyes that he just felt heavy. Zack Peacock has played with so much energy since at the beginning of the year. They are just run down. I’m sure everybody in the conference, and everyone in college basketball is feeling the same thing. Like I said, this week off certainly comes at a good time.”
On seeing North Carolina for the first time so late in the season for the first time – “I don’t think it makes any difference. Last year, we played Boston College the last game of the season, and if I’m not mistaken, that was the first time we saw them all year. We know their players. I mean, Hansborough is a senior, Ellington and Lawson are juniors, and Green is also a senior as well. So we know their team really well. Bobby Frasor has played against us. So it doesn’t really make much of a difference at all.”