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Looking for Reversal of Fortune, Tech Entertains Miami

Feb. 2, 2006

ATLANTA –

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Hoping to snap a six-game losing streak, two of which have come at home, Georgia Tech returns to Alexander Memorial Coliseum Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. regionally televised game against Miami.

Saturday’s game will be regionally televised on the ACC’s Raycom/Jefferson-Pilot Sports Network, and will air in Atlanta on WATL-TV (WB36). The Georgia Tech-ISP Sports Network provides the radio coverage, which can be heard in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790) and nationally on XM Satellite Radio Ch. 191.

Tech (9-10 overall, 2-6 ACC this season) has lost consecutive games to No. 18 NC State, Wake Forest, Clemson, No. 18 Maryland, Boston College and Virginia Tech. It is the Jackets’ longest losing streak since the 2001-02 season (also six games), and Tech is under .500 overall for the first time since the end of that season. The Jackets, tied for 10th place in the ACC standings, are 8-3 at home this season.

Miami (13-8 overall, 5-3 ACC) has won six of its last eight games, including two straight over Florida State and Wake Forest. The Hurricanes, in fourth place in the ACC standings, come to Atlanta having made more three-point field goals in ACC play (67) than all but two teams in the league.

Tech, playing its 50th season at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, is still looking for its 500th all-time win in its on-campus home. The Yellow Jackets have a 499-169 record in the building, which opened in November of 1956.

The Yellow Jackets’ last two losses have occurred by a total of three points, 66-64 at Boston College Sunday and 63-62 at Virginia Tech Tuesday. Tech played well defensively, holding those two teams to 40 percent shooting from the floor and 30.3 percent from three-point range.

However, Tech continues to short-circuit itself on offense with turnovers (20.4 per game over the last five) and second-half scoring droughts (one field goal over an 11:35 stretch against Maryland, one over a 12:53 stretch against Clemson, scoreless over a five-minute stretch at Virginia Tech).

In the last two games, Tech has rallied from second-half deficits of 10 at Virginia Tech to tie the game with a chance to win at the end, and from 12 at Boston College to within two at the end.

The brightest spot for Georgia Tech over the last several games has been the emergence of sophomore center Ra’Sean Dickey, who has averaged 14.9 points and 8.3 rebounds over his last seven games, including three double-doubles.

The 6-9 native of Clio, S.C., paced Tech with 21 points at Virginia Tech and 18 at Boston College, sinking 16-of-20 shots from the floor. Dickey is averaging 11.9 points and 6.9 rebounds for the season, leading Tech in field goal percentage at 59.5 percent. In conference games, he has made 60.3 percent.

Anthony Morrow, the ACC’s seventh-leading three-point shooter, and Jeremis Smith, the conference’s second-leading rebounder, have formed a potent inside-outside combination for the Yellow Jackets this season and are the only Tech players to start every game.

Morrow, a 6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C., has averaged 16.2 points a game overall. He is second in the ACC with a 41.5-percent success rate from three-point range and is third in the conference in three-point field goals (2.68 per game). One of three Tech players averaging in double figures, Morrow has averaged 14.5 points and shoots 38.0 percent from three-point range in ACC games.

Smith, from Fort Worth, Texas, has transformed himself into a force in the paint on both ends of the floor this season, posting eight double-doubles. Fully recovered from a dislocated kneecap that sidelined him for 17 games last year, Smith averages 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while hitting 50.3 percent of his field goal tries.

Zam Fredrick, a 6-0 guard from St. Matthews, S.C., has started 17 of Tech’s 19 games at point guard, ranks eighth in the ACC in assist average with 4.00 per game while averaging 9.4 points. D’Andre Bell, a 6-5 wingman from Los Angeles, Calif., has started Tech’s last 10 games at the other wing spot, averaging 6.1 points in those games, and averages 4.6 points and 2.2 rebounds for the season.

Off the bench, freshman Lewis Clinch, a 6-3 guard from Cordele, Ga., has played well since missing five games with a stress fracture in his left leg. He scored a career-high 16 points at Boston College and averages 7.5 points for the season. Theodis Tarver, a 6-9 senior, is Tech’s top post reserve, having started eight games this season and averaging 3.9 points and 3,1 rebounds.

Comments from head coach Paul Hewitt

[On turnovers in the last couple of games] – “The turnovers are what is really causing problems, because they are happening at inopportune times. In the first half at Virginia Tech, I thought we did a great job of not turning the basketball over. I thought we prepared well for their overplaying defense. Then we hit a stretch in the second half where we didn’t anticipate their overplaying, they got in the passing lanes and got easy baskets that cost us. Against Boston College we had a stretch where we turned the ball over and gave them easy baskets.”

“The effort level the last couple of games was much better. We’ve started to get better at holding on to the ball, but we’ve got to avoid the rashes that we’ve had that allow other teams to go on a run.”

[On Miami] – They’re getting healthy. Anthony Harris had a broken foot early in the year. Now he’s getting healthy and getting his timing back. That combination of Harris, Hite and Diaz is really starting to play some good basketball for them. [Their inside players] know their roles very well.”

[On Tech’s rebounding success] – “No question we’re getting better at that. We know that Jeremis, Ra’Sean and Theo rebound the ball well. But now our guards are starting to understand their responsibilities in boxing out and getting those long rebounds. Our fours and fives have done a great job all year of getting to the glass.”

[On defense] – “In the last 10 days we’ve gotten back to being mostly a drill-oriented team (in practice) in terms of defense, regardless of what the other guy is running. We work on understanding on how to read every situation and reacting to it.”

[On Ra’Sean Dickey’s recent success] – “There’s no question that teams are starting to play Jeremis (Smith) with a bigger guy. Jeremis is an intelligent player and he recognizes the mismatch, so he floats our to the high post and we get better matchups with Sean. Sean has made tremendous strides in terms of reacting to situations on the floor.”

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