Dec. 22, 2003
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech plays its final basketball game before Christmas Tuesday at 2 p.m. when the Yellow Jackets host Marist at 2 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Tuesday is “Kids Day”, and the first 500 kids aged 13 or under through the doors will receive mini-basketball by “The Rock.” The afternoon tilt also will feature the continuation of the Michael Isenhour Toy Drive, and fans are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy to either Gate 1 of Gate 3 at the Thrillerdome prior to the game.
Tech, 10-0 this season, has moved up to No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll, and the Yellow Jackets received 16 first-place votes. Connecticut, whom Tech defeated in the Preseason NIT on Nov. 26, are the No. 1 team, followed by Kentucky and Duke. Wake Forest is No. 8, North Carolina No. 9, and Maryland No. 24.
The game is sold out and will not be televised, but can be heard on radio in the Atlanta area on WQXI-AM (790).
Tech is 10-0 for the first time since the 1989-90 team started 10-0 en route to the Final Four, and for only the third time in school history. With a win Tuesday, the Yellow Jackets would match the best start in school history at 11-0, accomplished by the 1962-63 squad which finished the year 21-5, but did not receive a post-season invitation.
The Yellow Jackets have outscored its opponents by 24.0 points a game, a figure which leads the ACC and ranks second in the nation to Texas. Tech’s closest games have been 13-point decisions over Saint Louis (75-62) and St. John’s (79-66), and Tech held late leads over better than 20 points in both games before settling for the final margins.
Tech’s opponents are shooting just 34.8 percent from the floor (only Saint Louis has shot 40 percent in a game against Tech this season), and 24.7 percent from three-point range, which rank second and first, respectively, in the ACC.
Georgia Tech and Marist are meeting for the fourth time. The Yellow Jackets have won all three previous meetings, including a 67-53 decision last year at Madison Square Garden. Tech also defeated the Red Foxes at home in 1990 by a score of 86-77 and has a 2-0 record against Dave Magarity-coaches Marist teams. The teams first met in the 1986 NCAA Southeast Regional first round in Baton Rouge, La., and Tech came away 68-53 winners in that game.
Four Jackets have scoring averages in double figures for the season, led by 6-4 guard B.J. Elder at 15.1 points per game. Elder, a junior, ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring, has hit 34.0 percent of his three-point attempts and is shooting 42.8 percent overall. He led Tech with 15 points Sunday against St. John’s, 11 in the second half.
Point guard Jarrett Jack has been impressive in many respects, averaging 12.7 points a game (second on the team, 19th in the ACC) and 7.4 assists per game (2nd in the ACC) while hitting 50.6 percent of his field goal tries and 37.9 percent of his three-point attempts. The 6-3 sophomore is also Tech’s second-leading rebounder (5.8 per game), ranks second in the ACC in steals (2.80 per game) and sixth assist/turnover ratio (2.39-1).
Marvin Lewis, a 6-4 senior guard who is the only player to play in every game Paul Hewitt has coached at Tech, averages 12.0 points a game to rank 23rd in the ACC and fourth on the Tech squad. He has shot 42.6 percent from the floor and 35.0 percent from three-point range (14th in the ACC).
Luke Schenscher, a 7-1 junior center, averages 9.7 points and 6.1 rebounds a game for the season, and has played extremely well over his last six games, averaging 12 points and 7.7 rebounds while hitting 65.1 percent of his field goals. He had a career-best 22 points against Alabama A&M (10-14 FG) and a double-double (12 points, 10 boards) against St. John’s (5-5 FG).
The fifth starter is strong forward Anthony McHenry, a 6-7 junior who had eight points and six rebounds against St. John’s, has been solid all season averaging 4.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while blocking a team-high 10 shots.
Tech’s top reserve has been junior forward Isma’il Muhammad, a 6-6 defensive whiz who has become a force offensively, averaging 12.1 points (third on the team, 22nd in the ACC) while leading the conference in field goal percentage (65.4). He snared a career-best 12 rebounds against St. John’s while making 4-of-7 shots from the floor.
The other primary players off the bench include Clarence Moore, a 6-5 senior forward averaging 6.0 points and 4.0 rebounds; Robert Brooks, a 6-8 senior postman averaging 3.4 points and 2.8 rebounds (52 percent from the floor); and 6-0 junior Will Bynum, who became eligible Dec. 13 against Saint Louis and has averaged 6.3 points and 3.3 assists in three games.
#5/6 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-0, 0-0 ACC) vs. Marist (1-7, 1-1 MAAC) December 23, 2003 * 2 p.m. ET Alexander Memorial Coliseum, Atlanta, Ga. (9,191)
TV: noneRadio: Georgia Tech/ISP Network (flagship WQXI-AM 790); Wes Durham, pbp; Randy Waters, color
Tech Record Breakdown: Home: 5-0; Away: 2-0; Neutral: 3-0 Series Breakdown vs. Marist: Tech leads, 3-0 (1-0 at AMC) Last meeting: Dec. 7, 2002 (Tech won 67-53 at Madison Square Garden) Tech at AMC: 472-160
Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt: 124-71 (.635), 7th season overall 58-44 (.569), 4th season at Tech 22-26 (.458) vs. the ACC 6-2 vs. Marist (1-0 at Tech)
Marist coach Dave Magarity: 308-320 (490), 23rd season overall 248-244 (.504), 18th season at Marist 0-2 vs. Georgia Tech
Next for Georgia Tech: Dec. 29 vs. Virginia Commonwealth, 7 p.m. ET Next for Marist: Dec. 28 vs. Northern Arizona, 4 p.m. ET