Georgia Tech has tipped off the Paul Hewitt era with two convincing wins over Wofford (92-49) and Charleston Southern (85-62), and the Yellow Jackets go for their third straight win against Davidson at 7 p.m. Friday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center.
Tech has demonstrated improved shooting in its first two games, hitting exactly 50 percent of its shots overall and 53.5 percent (23-of-43) from three-point range. The Jackets have averaged 88.5 points. On the defensive end, Tech has limited the two opponents to 29.2 percent shooting from the floor and just 7-of-33 (21.2 percent) from three-point range while forcing 37 turnovers (25 steals) and blocking 17 shots (11 by Alvin Jones).
Senior guard Shaun Fein leads three Tech players averaging in double figures with 21.5 points per game, including a career-high 32 vs. Wofford. Senior center Alvin Jones scored 21 against Charleston Southern and is averaging 17.5 points and 9.0 rebounds, and junior guard Tony Akins is averaging 12.5 points and 6.5 assists.
Tech vs. Davidson
Georgia Tech is meeting Davidson for the first time since 1977, when the Wildcats toppled the Yellow Jackets 79-78 at Davidson.
Tech leads the overall series, 7-3, including a 5-1 record at home and a 3-0 record at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Jackets’ last win was a 59-44 decision at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in 1976. Tech also won at AMC 74-52 in 1957 and 85-60 in 1975.
Georgia Tech is playing its 45th season at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center in 1999-00. The Jackets have a record of 436-147 in the facility, which opened Nov. 30, 1956 with a 71-61 Tech loss to Duke.
Since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, Tech is 199-48 (.804) in its on-campus home, including an 11-3 mark last season. The Jackets are 114-4 against non-conference opponents at the Thrillerdome since 1981-82.
Non-Conference Foes Beware
Georgia Tech is 114-4 against non-conference opposition at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, including the last 13 in a row. Techs third-round NIT loss to Penn State to end the 1997-98 season, its last home loss to a non-ACC team, snapped a 24-game home winning streak against teams outside the conference.
The other non-conference teams to win at the Thrillerdome during that period of time are Richmond (Dec. 22, 1987), Louisville (Jan. 15, 1989) and the College of Charleston (Jan. 16, 1993).
Hot Shooting Out of the Gate
Head coach Paul Hewitt has seen his team meet his expectations in shooting, hitting 53.5 percent of its three-point attempts (23-of-43) against its first two opponents and 50 percent (28-of-56) in its two exhibition games. Tech is shooting exactly 50 percent from the floor overall, led by Fein at 72.7 percent overall and 64.3 percent from three-point range.
Against Wofford, Tech shot 50 percent in the first half and 52.9 in the second for 51.5 overall. Fein led the way individually by hitting 12 of 16 field goal attempts, 7-of-11 from three-point range.
Against Charleston Southern, Tech was 9-for-19 from three-point range and hit 48.4 percent overall, with Fein (2-of-3) and Tony Akins (3-of-4) leading the way.
A Fein Opening Night
Shaun Fein made Friday’s opener one to remember, notching a career high for scoring in a Georgia Tech uniform with 32 points. He made 12 of 16 field goal attempts, 7 of 11 from three-point range. He scored 20 in the first half.
Fein’s previous career best was 24 last year against Lafayette, and his previous high for three-point field goals was six in that game and against Florida State.
The senior from Centerville, Mass., followed that with 11 points in just 15 minutes against Charleston Southern (4-of-6 FG, 2-of-3 3FG). He has hit 72.7 percent of his field goals and 64.3 percent of his threes in two games.
A Lid on the Other Basket
In the season opener, Tech held Wofford to 25.5-percent shooting from the floor and only 14 field goals made. It was the eighth-lowest percentage Tech has allowed and included just 3-for-16 from three-point range. Charleston Southern didnt fare much better, shooting 32. percent overall and 4-of-17 from three-point range.
While holding them collectively to 29.2 percent shooting, Tech has also forced 37 turnovers, made 25 steals and blocked 17 shots.
Ten Players in Rotation
Head coach Paul Hewitt used 10 players for at least 10 minutes each against in both games thus far, continuing the rotation used in each of Tech’s two exhibition games. Tech still awaits the return over sophomore forward Clarence Moore, who continues to do a little more each day in practice and is expected back in early December.
The lineup Tech has begun each game with will be the same one that starts against Charleston Southern: 5-11 junior Tony Akins and 6-3 senior Shaun Fein at the guards, 6-3 freshman Marvin Lewis and 6-7 senior Jon Babul at the forwards, and 6-11 senior Alvin Jones at center.
Big Strides at Free Throw Line
If Georgia Tech’s first two regular-season games are any indication, the Yellow Jackets may be vastly improved in their free throw shooting.
Tech has made 74.3 percent of its free throws in the first two games, including 16-of-19 against Charleston Southern. Tony Akins and Marvin Lewis are each 4-for-4, Jon Babul is 9-of-10 and Alvin Jones is 7-of-12.
Tech hit 26 of 30 free throw attempts in its two exhibition games (86.7 percent). Jones, who made big strides from the stripe last year (61 percent), was 9-of-10 on his free throws in the two games.
The Jackets shot 68.3 percent from the line last season, a six-percent improvement from the year before.
Excellent free throw shooting was one of the hallmarks of Paul Hewitt’s teams at Siena. The Saints made 77.8 percent of their free throws during his three seasons at the Loudonville, N.Y., school.
Schedule Heats Up
Georgia Tech’s schedule heats up in the next two weeks following Friday nights game with Davidson.
The Yellow Jackets visit Iowa Tuesday (9:30 p.m.) in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, then meet UCLA next Saturday in the Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Calif. The following week, Tech hosts Georgia on Dec. 6 and meets Kentucky on Dec. 9 in the Delta Air Lines Classic for Kids.
Tech then takes a week off for fall semester exams before playing in the Stanford Invitational on Dec. 18-19.
Jones Climbs Rebounding List
Center Alvin Jones began his senior year in eighth place on Tech’s career rebounding list. The 6-11 pivotman is the ACC’s active leader with 781 career rebounds. With 19 more rebounds, he will move past former Yellow Jacket John Salley for seventh place in Tech history.
The Tech record of 1,205 rebounds (Malcolm Mackey, 1990-93) is likely out of reach for Jones, but he has a chance to join Mackey as the only Tech players to reach 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Jones has 946 career points.
Tech Head Coaches in their DebutsCoach Date Opponent ResultJohn Heisman Jan. 8, 1909 Mercer W, 28-7William Alexander Jan. 10, 1929 Auburn L, 24-29Joe Bean Jan. 8, 1921 Mercer L, 19-20Harold Hansen Jan. 9, 1925 Atlanta Athletic Club L, 22-23Roy Mundorf Dec. 20, 1926 @Ohio State L, 26-35Dwight Keith Jan. 7, 1944 @Atlanta NAS W, 46-34Roy McArthur Dec. 12, 1946 Chattanooga W, 63-37John *Whack* Hyder Dec. 8, 1951 @South Carolina W, 66-64Dwane Morrison Nov. 30, 1973 Alabama L, 64-88Bobby Cremins Nov. 30, 1981 Presbyterian W, 82-66Paul Hewitt Nov. 17, 2000 Wofford W, 92-49
New Bench, New Uniforms
Along with its new coach, Georgia Tech is wearing new uniforms and sitting on a new bench this season.
Tech has redesigned its home and road uniforms. They still sport the block “Georgia Tech” lettering on the front with the jersey number in between, but in a different typeface. The center of the neckline features a GT logo, and the sides of the jersey and pants feature a color band bordered by blue piping from underarm to the bottom of the shorts with a GT logo at the bottom of the shorts. The players’ names are on the backs, unlike last year.
Road uniforms are gold with white lettering and blue trim, while the home uniforms are white with gold lettering and blue trim, as before.
Additionally, Tech will sit on the opposite bench at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, nearest the tunnel where the teams enter the floor.
Jackets Tabbed Eighth in ACC
Georgia Tech was predicted to finish eighth in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season by a vote of the attending media at the conferences Operation Basketball media day in late October.
The Yellow Jackets have appeared anywhere from seventh to ninth in the various pre-season magazines – 7th by The Sporting News, 8th by Dick Vitale’s and Lindy’s, and 9th by Street & Smith’s.
Moore Expected Back Dec. 1
Sophomore forward Clarence Moore, who fractured a bone in his left foot in early September, is expected back by the first of December.
Moore, who played in all 30 games and started five last year (4.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg), sustained the injury in a pickup game. He was in a hard cast for three weeks after surgery and has continued to do more and more work in practice.
Georgia Tech’s roster includes six seniors, including scholarship players Alvin Jones, Shaun Fein, Jon Babul, T.J. Vines and Darryl LaBarrie, as well as walk-on Winston Neal. That represents Tech’s largest senior class since the 1975-76 season, when the roster included seven seniors.
It took only 60 games for Alvin Jones to become Georgia Tech’s all-time leader in blocked shots, breaking the record late in his sophomore season. Jones, who surpassed the record of 243 set by John Salley from 1983-86, now has 335 rejections in 96 games. He passed Clemson’s Elden Campbell for sixth place in the ACC list Tuesday night against Charleston Southern.
Jones, who had 107 blocks in 30 games last season (3.5 per game), also continues his climb up the Atlantic Coast Conference career lists for blocked shots. After becoming just the seventh player in league history to reach 300 blocked shots, his next targets are Marylands Derrick Lewis (339) and Dukes Mike Gminski (345).
Jones, whose season high is 141 blocks in his freshman year, needs 147 rejections to break the ACC record of 481 held by Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan.
From the Left …
For the second year in a row, Georgia Tech features three left-handed players on its roster. Tony Akins, Clarence Moore and Halston Lane all shoot left-handed. Last season, Akins, Moore and Jason Collier were the southpaws on the squad.
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 413 games. The last team to hold the Jackets without a three-point field goal was Virginia in the 1987 ACC Tournament.
UNLV held the longest streak with 449 games entering the 2000-01 season, followed by Vanderbilt at 442 games. UNLV, Vanderbilt and Princeton (386 games) began the season as the only schools to have at least one three-pointer in every game since the rule was put in for the 1986-87 season.
Tech Signs Five Early
Georgia Tech signed five players during the November early signing period. Joining the fold will be 6-4 guard Barry Elder of Madison, Ga., 6-6 forward Ismail Muhammad of Atlanta, 6-7 forward Ed Nelson of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 6-10 center Michael Southall of West Salem, Wis., and 6-6 guard Anthony Vasser of Birmingham, Ala.
Of the 13 players on Tech’s roster, six are native Georgians, all from metropolitan Atlanta. Senior Alvin Jones is from Florida, freshman Clarence Moore is from Louisiana and freshman Halston Lane is from Tennessee.
Jon Babul (North Attleboro, Mass.), Shaun Fein (Centerville, Mass.), Marvin Lewis (Germantown, Md.) and Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.) are the only Jackets not from the Southeastern United States.