Feb. 8, 2003
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech looks to keep its unbeaten home-court record intact and rebound from a road loss at Clemson when No. 8-ranked Maryland visits Sunday for a 4 p.m. Atlantic Coast Conference contest at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The Yellow Jackets have won six of their last nine games and go into Sunday with an 11-8 overall record, 4-4 in the ACC, following a 69-67 loss at Clemson Wednesday night. Maryland (14-5, 6-2 in the ACC) suffered its first home ACC loss Thursday night to Virginia by a score of 86-78.
Sunday’s game will be televised by CBS to 73 percent of the country, including WGCL-TV (Ch. 46) in Atlanta. Radio coverage is provided by the Georgia Tech-ISP Network, which airs locally on WQXI-AM (790) and WMGP-FM (98.1).
Tech has won all four of its ACC home games this season (NC State, Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia) by an average of 17.8 points. Three of those victories have come by 20 points or more, the most Tech has ever enjoyed in one season.
The Yellow Jackets have a 10-0 record this season at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and a 12-game winning streak at home dating back to last season. Duke was the last team to beat Tech at home, last Feb. 9.
At 4-4 at the midway point of the ACC schedule, Tech has matched the mark it achieved in head coach Paul Hewitt’s first season on the Flats in 2000-01. No Tech team has done better over the first half of the conference schedule since 1995-96, and the Yellow Jackets have won 11 of their last 17 conference games.
“I think the home dominance is going to erode a little bit in February,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. “Teams will be a lot more comfortable going out on the road, and whoever plays better that night is going to get the game.”
In 2000-01, Tech began the second half of the ACC slate with a road loss to North Carolina but recovered to finish 8-8. In 1998-99, after splitting the first eight games, the Jackets dropped their next three games and finished 6-10.
The Yellow Jackets have built their recent success on defense, holding six of their last nine opponents to 40 percent or worse shooting from the floor. In the same period of time, however, Tech has shot 45.9 percent from the floor.
The game Sunday comes in the midst of a big weekend in Atlanta with the NBA All-Star Game in town, and several of Tech’s former players who play in the NBA, as well as some of Maryland’s, will attend the game. Tech will welcome Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury, Matt Harpring and Jon Barry, and former NBA stars John Salley, Dennis Scott and Mark Price, who has season tickets and attends most of the Yellow Jackets’ games.
“It will be special for our players to see those guys here, because they’ve been very supportive of our team and the program,” said Hewitt. “It will add an air of excitement and electricity to the program.”
Hewitt shuffled his starting lineup for the first time in 11 games Wednesday night at Clemson, replacing 7-1 sophomore Luke Schenscher with 6-8 sophomore Ed Nelson. Nelson, who scored nine points with seven rebounds in the game, joined 6-3 freshman Jarrett Jack, 6-4 junior Marvin Lewis, 6-4 sophomore B.J. Elder and 6-10 freshman Chris Bosh on the floor for the opening tip for the third time this season. Tech has used four different starting lineups this season, only Jack and Bosh have started every game.
Tech has three players scoring in double figures for the season, led by Bosh, who has averaged 19.7 points in his last three games and ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring at 16.3 points per game. The ACC Rookie of the Year candidate leads the ACC in field goal percentage (61.0) and is second in rebounding (9.3), and is the nation’s top rebounder among freshmen.
Elder, who ranks 10th in the conference 15.7 points a game overall, has been off the mark in his last two games, averaging just 8.0 points while hitting just 6-of-19 shots. He leads the ACC in three-point shooting percentage at 42.7 percent and ranks sixth in overall field goal percentage at 47.3 percent. Lewis, who scored 25 points against Virginia and averages 16.5 points per game in league play, ranks 16th in the ACC overall at 13.2 points per game and fifth in three-point percentage (40.2).
Jack, Tech’s fourth-leading scorer at 8.4 points along 5.9 assists (fifth in the ACC), has averaged 13.3 points and 5.3 assists in his last three games. Nelson, the ACC’s seventh-leading rebounder at 6.9 per game along with 7.6 points a game, has provided Tech with solid rebounding all season and more scoring of late.
“Ed played very well Wednesday night,” said Hewitt. “Offensively he has more to bring to the game, and he will. He’s learning to pick his spots better playing with Chris.”
Tech gets reserve help in the post from Schenscher, averaging 5.3 points and 3.9 rebounds while hitting 50 percent of his shots. Isma’il Muhammad, a 6-6 sophomore forward averaging 6.1 points and 4.0 rebounds, and Anthony McHenry, a 6-7 sophomore averaging 2.5 points and 1.8 rebounds, provide excellent defense on the wing.
“I think what has changed with us since the first time we faced Maryland is that we’re getting more contributions from more guys,” said Hewitt. “Tony McHenry is playing a lot better, Isma’il Muhammad has played better, and Jarrett Jack has improved quite a bit. Our perimeter play has gotten a little more consistent and a little more experienced.
“We’ve just got to win every game we have a chance to play, and we’re more than capable. We’ve got to play well to do it, because here in February, this whole home mystique is going to decline a little bit.”
TECH SERIES VS. MARYLAND
*Georgia Tech has lost its last three games and 12 of its last 14 with Maryland but still leads the all-time series, 30-28. Tech’s last win over the Terrapins was a 72-62 triumph at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 6, 2001.
*Maryland won the first nine games of the series, but head coach Bobby Cremins turned the tables upon his arrival, leading Tech to 28 wins in the next 35 meetings (including 10 in a row at one point) through the 1995-96 season.
*Tech is 16-7 against Maryland at home, 15-7 in Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Tech is 17-7 against the Terps all-time in the city of Atlanta, including two wins at the Omni. Last year, Maryland escaped with a 92-87 win at the Thrillerdome, but the Jackets sent the visitors home losers the two times before that, 72-62 in 2001 and 69-68 in 2000.
*Earlier this season: Maryland outscored Tech, 19-13, over the final six minutes on Dec. 29 at College Park, earning an 84-77 victory. Drew Nicholas (29 points) and Ryan Randle (20) led the way for the Terrapins, while B.J. Elder (19), Chris Bosh (16) Luke Schenscher (13), Marvin Lewis (12) all scored in double digits for Tech, which outshot (42.5-41.5) and outrebounded (48-42) the Terps but turned the ball over 20 times.
*Last season in Atlanta: Maryland escaped with a 92-87 win in Atlanta on Jan. 13, getting 26 points from Juan Dixon and 21 from Lonny Baxter while shooting 51.9 percent and beating the Jackets on the boards, 41-30. Tony Akins led five Tech players in double figures with 24 points.
THE COMFORTS OF HOME
Georgia Tech has not lost at home in 10 tries this season, including a win over then-No. 17 Georgia in the second game of the campaign on Nov. 27 and ACC wins over NC State, Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia. The Yellow Jackets have won 12 straight home games and 14 of 15 since last season (only loss was to Duke in that stretch, on Feb. 9).
Tech’s performance in its last six home games has only accentuated the statistical disparity between the Yellow Jackets at home and on the road this season.
The Yellow Jackets have averaged 84.0 points per game at home this season and outscored their guests by an average of 20.4 points. Tech has shot 48.1 percent from the floor and 44.7 percent from three-point range at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, while holding its guests to 38.6 percent overall.
*In ACC home games: Tech has outscored its foes 83.5-to-65.8, a margin of 17.7 points a game, outshot them 49.8 percent to 39.4 percent overall, and 50.0 percent to 34.1 percent from three-point range. Tech has a 1.27-1 assist-turnover ratio and a rebound margin of plus-5.3, and has made 76.1 percent of its free throws.
TECH AGAINST RANKED TEAMS
Georgia Tech has won nine games against nationally-ranked opponents against 20 losses in two-plus seasons under Paul Hewitt, including a 1-4 mark this season. Tech took an 83-77 homecourt win over No. 17 Georgia on Nov. 27, and suffered road losses to No. 20 Minnesota (64-63), No. 23 Maryland (84-77), No. 19 Wake Forest (73-66) and No. 3 Duke (91-71), an average losing margin of 5.8 points.
At home, Tech is 5-5 against nationally-ranked opposition, and 7-6 against ranked teams in the city of Atlanta (including games at Philips Arena and the Georgia Dome).
ELDER-BOSH-LEWIS TRIO FUELS TECH OFFENSE
When Georgia Tech has B.J. Elder, Chris Bosh and Marvin Lewis going at the same time, the Yellow Jackets have been hard to stop. Against Virginia, Tech managed to stay hot even when one of the three was held in check (Elder scored just six points in the game, but the Jackets still scored 80 and won by 20), but with Elder and Lewis both held in check Wednesday at Clemson (19 points combined), Tech suffered.
All three players rank among the top 16 in the ACC in scoring average. Bosh and Elder rank first and seventh, respectively, in field goal percentage, and Elder and Lewis rank No. 1 and 5 in three-point percentage (41.5 percent combined) while ranking fourth and seventh in three-pointers made per game (4.5 combined).
In the nine games since Tulane (the end of a three-game losing streak), Tech has averaged 76.1 points, shot 45.9 percent from the floor, 37.7 percent from three-point range and 72.6 percent from the free throw line. Tech has a plus-7 turnover margin during that stretch.
Individually, Bosh has averaged 17.4 points a game, Lewis 16.1 and Elder 15.1 in that stretch. They have combined to shoot 52.8 percent from the floor, 43.4 percent from three-point range and 80.9 percent from the line.
PUTTING THE CLAMPS ON
Georgia Tech has tightened its defense of late, holding six of its last nine opponents at 40 percent or under from the floor. Tech’s field goal percentage defense (41.7) and its three-point percentage defense (34.9) against ACC foes are third-best in the league.
In spite of allowing 91 points and 50.8 percent shooting by Duke in Durham, Tech has limited its last nine foes to 40.6-percent from the floor, 33.1 percent from three-point range and 66.4 points per game.
Tech has managed to shut down five of the ACC’s top scorers in that stretch: NC State’s Julius Hodge (No. 1, 19.2 ppg before Tech), Florida State’s Tim Pickett (No. 4, 18.0 before Tech), Duke’s J.J. Redick (No. 6, 17.2 before Tech), North Carolina’s Rashad McCants (No. 2, 19.4 before Tech), and Virginia’s Travis Watson (No. 11, 14.9 before Tech). The Jackets held Hodge to just nine points (1-6 FG), Pickett to 13 (5-16 FG, 3-11 on threes), Redick to 11 (2-of-10 FG, 1-6 on threes), McCants to 12 (5-18 FG, 2-7 on threes) and Watson to four (2-8 FG).
Worth noting: Tech ranked at the bottom of the ACC standings in every defensive category back in December, but has improved itself over last six weeks. In all games, Tech now ranks sixth in scoring defense (69.1), fourth in field goal percentage defense (41.0) and eighth in three-point percentage allowed (34.7). In ACC games only, Tech ranks fifth, third and fourth, respectively, in those categories.
TOEING THE LINE
A new trend has taken root for Georgia Tech, which shot 49 free throws in its first game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff this season. Tech has attempted more free throws than its opponent in every game but four so far (439-347 for the season).
Tech even shot more free throws than Duke, hitting 27-of-37 attempts at Cameron Indoor Stadium in a losing effort on Jan. 25. The Blue Devils were 24-of-33.
After a poor start this season, Tech has made 72.6 percent of its charity tosses (151-of-208) in the last nine games. The Yellow Jackets have ranked last in the ACC in free throw percentage all season until now, coming in eighth currently.
The Jackets have connected on 73.5 percent in ACC games, the fourth-best figure among the league’s teams. Three Tech players rank among the conference’s top 15 in free throw percentage in ACC games only — Chris Bosh (8th, 81.6), Marvin Lewis (10th, 81.1 percent) and B.J. Elder (13th, 78.6).
In its first two seasons under Paul Hewitt, Tech generally was on the short end when it came to getting to the line. Tech attempted more free throws than its opponent in only 19 games in two seasons, and won 18 of those.
WHO’S THE BOSH?
Chris Bosh has established himself as one of the top freshmen in the nation and the ACC, leading the nation’s first-year players in rebounding (9.3) and ranking second in field goal percentage (61.0).
The 6-10 forward has had an impact for the Yellow Jackets in every facet of the game and every column of the stat sheet. He leads the ACC in field goal percentage, and ranks second in rebounding, double-doubles (8) and blocked shots (1.77). He ranks eighth in scoring average (16.3 points per game).
Bosh leads the conference in offensive rebounds (3.47 per game) and has shot 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from three-point range. He has fewer turnovers per 40 minutes (2.5) than anyone else on the Tech squad except Anthony McHenry.
Though it would appear the Texas native doesn’t get as many touches as some of his teammates [he ranks just eighth on the team in field goal attempts per 40 minutes], he has been to the foul line 36 times more than his closest teammate (81-of-111, 73.0 percent) and more than anybody in the ACC except NC State’s Julius Hodge (112-138, 81.2 percent).
Bosh has scored 20 points or more in four of his last six games. He has hit 71-of-109 shots in his last 10 games (65.1 percent) and 39-of-46 (84.8 percent) from the foul line.
Bosh has recorded an eight “double-doubles” in points and rebounds this season (second most in the ACC), including the first five games of the season and a recent three-game stretch against (11/12 vs. NC State (11 pts., 12 reb.), 19/12 vs. Florida State (19/12), and Wake Forest (22/10). He has missed five others by one rebound.
The 6-10 rookie has been named ACC Rookie of the Week four times, and is bidding to become only the second Tech player to lead the ACC in field goal percentage [John Salley is the last, and only, 62.7 percent in 1985.].
JACK RUNNING THE SHOW
Freshman point guard Jarrett Jack has gradually become more effective directing the offense for Tech. The 6-3 freshman has put together perhaps his best all-around games of the season in the Yellow Jackets’ last three games against North Carolina, Virginia and Clemson, averaging 13.3 points and 5.3 assists while connecting on 14 of 22 field goal attempts.
He now has eight double-figure scoring efforts this season, and Tech has won all but one of those games.
Jack ranks fifth in the ACC in assist average (5.9 per game) and eighth in assist/turnover ratio (1.58) while scoring 8.4 points a game overall. He has stepped up in conference play, averaging 10.1 points and 5.6 assists.
Jack had six points and four assists against just two turnovers at Duke, and scored 11 points with four assists and just one turnover in 30 minutes against NC State. He went 3-of-5 from the floor and 2-of-3 from three-point range as Tech ran away with an 85-61 win. He failed to score from the floor (0-for-2) against Florida State, but had eight assists and made 7-of-8 free throws in the final two minutes. At Wake Forest, he turned the ball over on each of Tech’s first two possessions, but had only one the rest of the way and scored eight points with six assists.
TECH GETTING THE FULL NELSON
Sophomore Ed Nelson is showing the warrior form that made him the 2002 ACC Rookie of the Year, and he has earned his way back into Tech’s starting lineup.
The 6-8 forward has averaged 7.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in Tech’s last six games, recording three double-figure rebound games in the process. Though he had just six rebounds Saturday against Virginia, all six were key. Nelson nabbed 11 boards with eight points at Wake Forest, 10 boards with 11 points against Elon and season-high 13 caroms to go with six points against North Carolina.
In his first time back in the starting lineup Wednesday at Clemson, he scored nine points (3-6 FG, 3-4 FT) and grabbed seven rebounds.
Nelson has also shot the ball better in that stretch, hitting 17 of 40 shots from the floor (42.5 percent compared to 38.2 for the season) and 11 of 16 from the foul line. He also has more than half his season assist total (9 of 16) in those six games.