ATLANTA (Jan. 17) – Looking to build on the momentum of last Saturday’s victory over 16th-ranked Maryland, Georgia Tech (8-7, 1-2 ACC) hosts Florida State in a non-televised game Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center before travelling to NC State for a nationally-televised ESPN game at 9 p.m. at the new Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh, N.C.
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 69-68 win over Maryland snapped a three-game losing streak that saw the Jackets endure a grueling road stretch with losses at No. 24 Kentucky (L, 80-71), Virginia (L, 83-65) and No. 6 Duke (L, 82-57). The victory was Tech’s first over a ranked team since knocking off sixth-ranked North Carolina, 66-64, in December of 1998.
“This team really needed something good to happen, and we finally got over the hump with a great win against Maryland,” said Tech head coach Bobby Cremins.
“Hopefully we can gain some confidence and build on that win, but we all know it doesn’t get any easier.”
Senior forward Jason Collier leads Georgia Tech both scoring (18.2) and rebounding (9.7), ranking second in the ACC in scoring and first in rebounding. The 7-footer from Springfield, Ohio, is also second in the ACC in field goal percentage (52.9) and has hit 14 of 33 three-pointers (42.4 percent).
Collier is joined in the frontcourt by 6-11 junior center Alvin Jones (Lakeland, Fla.), who averages 11.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, and 6-6 senior swingman Jason Floyd (Hampton, Ga.), 11.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
The Tech backcourt features 5-11 sophomore point guard Tony Akins (Lilburn, Ga.), 11.3 points and 4.2 assists per game, and 6-3 junior Shaun Fein (Centerville, Mass.), 10.4 ppg and 3.5 apg.
Tech’s top subs are 6-5 freshman forward Clarence Moore (Norco, La.), 4.5 ppg and 3.3 rpg; 5-10 junior guard T.J. Vines (Woodstock, Ga.), 4.3 ppg and 2.3 apg; and 6-7 junior forward Jon Babul (North Attleboro, Mass.), 4.3 ppg and 4.4 rpg.
Florida State (7-7, 2-1 ACC) suffered its first conference loss at the hands of Duke, 85-54, Sunday in Tallahassee. The Seminoles are led by 6-9 senior swingman Ron Hale, the fourth-leading scorer in the ACC at 16.9 points per game.
FSU counters Tech’s twin towers with 7-0 sophomore David Anderson, 3.1 ppg and 4.5 rpg, and 6-8 senior Oliver Simmons, 7.9 ppg and 4.4 rpg. Rounding out the starting five are 5-11 junior point guard Delvon Arrington, second in the ACC with 6.8 assists per game along with 8.4 points, and 6-7 senior Damous Anderson, 12.6 ppg and 4.8 rpg.
“Florida State has gotten off to a good start in the ACC with a great win at Wake Forest and then a win over Clemson,” said Cremins. “They’re very athletic on the perimeter, and Ron Hale has been sensational.”
NC State (12-2, 3-1 ACC, pending Wednesday’s game at Duke), which has won six in a row over the Jackets, is coming off wins over Wake Forest and Virginia last week.
The leading scorer for the Wolfpack is 6-2 sophomore guard Anthony Grundy, who averages 14.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He is joined in the backcourt by 6-0 senior point guard Justin Gainey, 8.6 ppg and 2.7 apg. The NC State frontcourt features 6-8 junior Kenny Inge, 10.2 ppg and 6.0 rpg, 6-8 junior Damon Thornton, 10.2 ppg and 8.1 rpg, and 6-6 freshman Damien Wilkins, 9.9 ppg and 6.6 rpg.
“Herb Sendek is doing a great job at NC State,” said Cremins. “They’ve had our number the last couple of years, and they have been very tough to beat in their new building.”
The Series with Florida State
Florida State holds a 23-17 lead in the series with Georgia Tech, which began in 1963. Since FSU joined the ACC in 1991-92, the Seminoles’ advantage is 9-7. Tech lost its first six ACC meetings with Florida State but since then has won seven of the last 10.
Tech and FSU split last year’s meetings, with each team winning on the other’s homecourt. Florida State handed the Jackets a 75-56 loss at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, but Tech answered with a 111-108 double-overtime win in Tallahassee. Jason Collier (30 points, 10 rebounds) and Alvin Jones (28 points, 17 rebounds) combined for 58 points and 27 rebounds while hitting 19 of 25 field goals. Jones scored 10 points in overtime. The game was the second-highest scoring ACC game of the 1990s, and the highest since Duke defeated Maryland, 114-110, in overtime in 1990.
Florida State has won two in a row at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and Tech’s last win over FSU in Atlanta was a 71-58 decision in 1996-97. The Seminoles lead 11-9 in all games at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, including a 5-3 lead since joining the ACC.
The two teams were both members of the Metro Conference for two seasons (1976-78), when FSU captured three of the four meetings.
The Series with NC State
NC State has won six in a row over Georgia Tech to take a 38-27 lead in the series, which dates back to 1925. NC State’s last four wins have all been by six points or fewer. Prior to the Wolfpack’s current six-game winning streak, Tech had won seven in a row.
NC State swept last year’s meetings, winning 75-69 in Raleigh and then 51-50 in Atlanta.
The Yellow Jackets, making their first appearance in the new Entertainment and Sports Arena, have a 7-20 record against NC State in Raleigh. Tech’s last win at NC State was a 76-71 decision in 1995-96.
The Jackets are 19-21 against NC State under Bobby Cremins, including an 18-16 record since 1985.
Fein Breaks Out
Playing his best game in a Georgia Tech uniform, Shaun Fein shook off a shooting slump to score a game-high 17 points in the Yellow Jackets’ 69-68 win over 16th-ranked Maryland. The 6-3 guard, who had gone 4-for-23 from the field in the previous three games, hit four of seven three-pointers, scoring 15 points in the first half to help the Jackets pull within 39-35 at the intermission after falling behind 16-5 early in the game. Although he scored just two points in the second half, he hit two crucial free throws with 53 seconds left. Fein also contributed four assists, three rebounds and a steal while playing 36 minutes against the Terps.
Cremins Moves into Third in ACC Wins
With Georgia Tech’s 69-68 win over Maryland on Jan. 15, head coach Bobby Cremins moved into third place among Atlantic Coast Conference coaches in career wins while coaching in the ACC.
Cremins, now with 349 victories in his 19th season at Tech, passed former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell (348) for third place. Only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, 482 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. Tech currently ranks second in the ACC at 71.2 percent, almost 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. Against Maryland, the Jackets hit 11-of-12 free throws in the second half. 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.
In its eight victories, Tech has hit 46 of 51 free throws (90 percent) in the final five minutes.
Vines Gives a Lift off the Bench
T.J. Vines, Georgia Tech’s backup point guard, averages 19 minutes off the bench, contributing 4.2 points and 2.3 assists per game. He leads the Jackets in steals with 14 and is a good perimeter defender.
The 5-10 junior turned in a solid performance in Tech’s 69-68 win over Maryland. With starting point guard Tony Akins saddled with foul trouble, Vines played 23 minutes and had six points (2-for-3 three-pointers), three assists and just one turnover against Maryland’s pressure defense.
Vines contributed seven points and four assists versus Kentucky. Earlier this season, he turned in one of the best games of his career in Georgia Tech’s win over Washington in the Great Alaska Shootout with season highs for points (13) and assists (6).