ATLANTA (Jan. 10) – Georgia Tech faces another grueling week with a pair of ranked Atlantic Coast Conference foes as the Yellow Jackets (7-6, 0-1 ACC) travel to seventh-ranked Duke (11-2, 2-0 ACC) Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium before hosting No. 16 Maryland (11-4, 0-2 ACC) Saturday at 8 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center.
The Tech-Duke contest will be nationally televised on ESPN, with Dan Shulman and Dan Bonner handling the announcing duties, while the Maryland game will be regionally televised on the Raycom/Jefferson-Pilot network (WATL in Atlanta), with Mike Goldberg on play-by-play and Bucky Waters as the color analyst. Both games can be heard on the Georgia Tech-ISP network (WGST AM-FM in Atlanta), featuring the call of Wes Durham and Randy Waters.
Tech’s game at Duke is the third of three straight road contests for the Jackets, who had a four-game winning streak snapped last week with losses at No. 24 Kentucky (80-71) and at Virginia (83-65).
“We’ve showed some signs of getting this thing going, but I’m disappointed that we haven’t been able to put together two good halves,” said Tech head coach Bobby Cremins.
“I was proud of the way the way we played against Kentucky because we fought the whole game. Then against a very good Virginia team, we played a good first half, but then we fell apart in the second half.”
Senior forward Jason Collier leads Georgia Tech both scoring (19.2) and rebounding (9.2), ranking second in the ACC in both categories. The 7-footer from Springfield, Ohio, is among the ACC leaders in field goal percentage (fourth at 53.2) and has hit 13 of 30 three-pointers (43.3 percent).
Collier is joined in the frontcourt by 6-11 junior center Alvin Jones (Lakeland, Fla.), who averages 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, and 6-6 senior swingman Jason Floyd (Hampton, Ga.), 11.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
The Tech backcourt features 5-11 sophomore point guard Tony Akins (Lilburn, Ga.), the Jackets’ second-leading scorer at 12.2 points per game, along with 4.4 assists, and 6-3 junior Shaun Fein (Centerville, Mass.), 10.5 ppg and 3.7 apg.
Tech’s top subs are 6-5 freshman forward Clarence Moore (Norco, La.), 4.7 ppg and 3.6 rpg; 5-10 junior guard T.J. Vines (Woodstock, Ga.), 4.4 ppg and 2.5 apg; and 6-7 junior forward Jon Babul (North Attleboro, Mass.), 4.4 ppg and 4.9 rpg, who hopes to return after missing two games with a strained quadriceps.
Duke is riding an 11-game winning streak, including impressive road wins at Virginia and Maryland last week.
“Duke is on a roll right now after two great road wins last week,” said Cremins. “They have a lot of talent, and Mike Krzyzewski has them playing very well. And we all know how tough it is to play at Cameron Indoor Stadium.”
The Blue Devils are led by veterans Chris Carrawell, a 6-6 senior guard, and Shane Battier, a 6-8 junior forward. Carrawell is the team’s top scorer at 17.6 points per game, along with 6.1 rebounds, while Battier contributes 15.9 points and 6.2 rebounds an outing. Rounding out the starting five are 6-1 freshman point guard Jason Williams, 15.2 ppg and 5.5 apg; 6-9 freshman center Carlos Boozer, 12.2 ppg and 6.3 rpg; and 6-6 junior forward Nate James, 10.8 ppg and 5.2 rpg.
Maryland, which has lost two in row but does not have a mid-week game, features the multiple talents of Terence Morris, a candidate for national player of the year. The 6-9 junior forward averages 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.
The Terps have used the same starting five the entire season, including 6-8 sophomore center Lonny Baxter, 14.3 points and an ACC-leading 9.5 rebounds per game; 6-8 sophomore forward Danny Miller, 8.9 ppg and 3.0 rpg; 6-3 sophomore guard Juan Dixon, 15.5 ppg and 6.1 rpg; and 6-3 freshman point guard Steve Blake, 7.1 ppg and 6.1 apg.
“Maryland is always tough to play because of the pressure defense,” said Cremins. “Terence Morris is one of the best players in the country.”
The Series with Duke
Duke has won six in a row over Georgia Tech to take a 43-20 lead in the series, which began in 1922. Tech’s last win over the Blue Devils was in 1995-96, when the Yellow Jackets swept the season series with an 86-81 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium and a 73-71 overtime decision in Atlanta.
The Blue Devils captured both meetings last season, winning 99-58 in Durham and then 87-79 in Atlanta. In the latter game, Tech held Duke to is smallest margin of victory all season. The Jackets led 40-35 at the half and maintained the lead until 7:45 remained in the game. Jason Collier scored 26 points and Jason Floyd added 19 for the Jackets.
Tech has enjoyed little success at Cameron Indoor Stadium, winning just four times in 26 games. Since joining the ACC, the Jackets’ only victories on Duke’s homecourt were in 1996 (86-81), 1987 (79-72) and 1984 (58-56).
The Series with Maryland
Maryland has won seven in a row over Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets lead the series 28-23. Tech’s 28-19 record against the Terps since joining the ACC in 1979-80 is its best mark against any league foe.
The Terrapins captured both meetings last season, winning 77-62 in College Park and 91-60 in Atlanta. Tech’s last win over Maryland was an 84-79 victory in the semifinals of the 1996 ACC Tournament.
The Terps have won the last three meetings at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, but Tech holds a 13-6 advantage in its on-campus arena and a 14-6 lead in Atlanta, including one regular-season meeting at the Omni in 1996. The Jackets’ last win over Maryland at the Thrillerdome was a 100-91 win in 1994-95.
Cremins Ties Driesell, Ranks Third in Wins
Georgia Tech head coach Bobby Cremins is tied for third place among Atlantic Coast Conference coaches in career wins while coaching in the ACC. Cremins, in his 19th season at Tech, is tied with former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell with 348 wins. Only Dukes Mike Krzyzewski, 480 wins, and retired North Carolina coach Dean Smith, with 879, have won more games than Cremins.
Jackets Cashing In At The Line
The Yellow Jackets have made a significant improvement as a team in free throw shooting this season. In the last six games, Tech has hit 94 of 123 free throws for 76.4 percent and currently rank second in the ACC overall at 72.1 percent. That’s 10 percentage points above last year’s average (62.1).
Tech has been able to handle the pressure of close games with even better free throw shooting. The Jackets were 17-of-21 against Lafayette, including 10 straight in the final five minutes. Tech canned 10-of-10 in the final five minutes of its Dec. 22 win over Wofford, and 8-of-8 in the last five minutes against Morehead State.
Akins Has Hit 24 Straight
Tony Akins has hit 24 straight free throw attempts to improve his season percentage to 90.3 (28-for-31), which would lead the ACC if he had enough attempts.
His last missed free throw occurred Nov. 27 on his final attempt against Kansas. The streak began in Tech’s next game against Michigan. Akins has some work to do in order to reach the Tech record, however. Drew Barry hit 33 in a row during the 1995-96 season. Current Tech assistant coach Mark Price, the NBA career free throw percentage leader who has been instrumental in improving the Jackets’ at the line this season, hit 31 straight in 1984-85.
Floyd Heats Up
Forward Jason Floyd has increased his scoring of late, contributing 13 or more points in six straight games, averaging 14.7 points during that stretch. The senior from Hampton, Ga., is coming off a 21-point performance (including 4-of-7 three-pointers) against Virginia, his high in an ACC game. His previous top scoring effort against the ACC was a 19-point outing last season in Tech’s eight-point loss to Duke.
Floyd is Tech’s third-leading scorer at 11.9 points per game, shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 86.4 percent from the free throw line.