ATLANTA (Dec. 6) – Georgia Tech completes a rugged early stretch of the season this week when it goes on the road to visit Georgia, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Athens, then takes on third-ranked Stanford at 12 noon Saturday in the Delta Air Lines Holiday Classic for Kids at Philips Arena.
Wednesday’s game will be televised throughout the Southeast on Fox Sports Net South, while the Stanford game gets national TV exposure on ESPN.
Tech is 3-2, coming off a pair of losses to No. 11 Kansas (84-70) in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout and an 80-77 defeat to Michigan on Dec. 1 at Philips Arena in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Georgia is 2-3 pending a Monday night game at Furman, while Stanford is 5-0 with wins over No. 10 Duke and No. 2 Auburn to its credit.
“We need to put together a good 60 minutes of basketball in order to win these games this week,” said head coach Bobby Cremins. “We dug ourselves a hole against Kansas and Michigan, and we can’t afford to continue doing that. We made a great rally and almost pulled it out against Michigan.”
The Yellow Jackets have five starters averaging in double figures, led by a pair of pre-season all-ACC choices in 7-0 senior forward Jason Collier (Springfield, Ohio) and 6-11 junior center Alvin Jones (Lakeland, Fla.).
Collier leads the Jackets with 17.4 points per game, third in the ACC, and 9.8 rebounds per game, second in the ACC. He also is shooting 51.6 percent from the floor and 73.3 percent from the line while averaging 2.4 assists. Jones averages 14.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game while shooting 53.7 percent from the floor and blocking 2.8 shots per game.
The rest of Tech’s starting lineup includes 5-11 sophomore point guard Tony Akins (Lilburn, Ga.), 6-3 junior guard Shaun Fein (Centerville, Mass.) and 6-6 senior forward Jason Floyd (Hampton, Ga.).
Akins has put together a strong start, averaging 13.6 points per game, ranks fourth in the ACC with 6.0 assists, and has a 2.3-1 assist-turnover ratio. He has been Tech’s top three-point marksman with a 41.4-percent success rate, ranking third in the ACC in three-point field goals per game and three-point percentage. Fein is next with 11.4 points and 3.6 assists per game, and Floyd averages 10.0 points and 3.8 rebounds.
Tech’s bench may be the deepest of the Bobby Cremins era with 5-10 junior T.J. Vines (Woodstock, Ga.) in the backcourt, 6-7 junior Jon Babul (North Attleboro, Mass.) in the frontcourt and 6-4 freshman Clarence Moore (Norco, La.) on the wing.
The trio averages between 14 and 18 minutes per game and has combined for more than 15 points per game.
Georgia counters with the strong junior tandem of 6-7 junior forward Anthony Evans (16.8 points per game) and 6-6 forward Shon Coleman (15.0), and a three-guard lineup featuring 6-2 sophomore D.A. Layne (15.8), 6-5 junior Adrian Jones (9.4) and 6-4 freshman Mike Patrick (3.0).
Stanford features a real “twin towers” in pivotmen Jason Collins 9.6), a 6-11 freshman center, and Jarron Collins (13.0), a 6-10 junior forward, who are twin brothers. The rest of the Cardinal lineup includes 6-7 junior forward Ryan Mendez (6.8), 6-4 guard David Moseley (9.0) and 6-1 guard Michael McDonald (6.4).
Series vs. Georgia, Stanford Wednesday marks the 176th meeting between Georgia Tech and Georgia in men’s basketball. Tech holds a 97-78 lead overall in the series which was first played in 1906. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Bulldogs last year, 84-79, in overtime at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, rallying from a 15-point second-half deficit.
Georgia won the last game between the two teams at Stegeman Coliseum, a 77-71 decision on 1997. The Bulldogs have won 19 of 22 games with Tech at Stegeman, and Tech has not won in the building since Nov. 26, 1976, a 64-43 triumph. Georgia has a 45-28 lead over the Jackets in all games played in Athens.
Wednesday’s game is the fifth between the two teams since the series moved back to the campuses in 1995, and the home team has prevailed each time. The 14 meetings prior to 1995 were played in the Omni in Atlanta. Tech won eight of the last 10 meetings in the Omni, and have won 12 of the last 16 overall against Georgia.
Georgia Tech and Stanford have met only once, a 67-65 Tech victory in the opening round of the Central Fidelity Classic on Nov. 28, 1986 in Richmond, Va.
Tech in the Delta Classic
The Delta Air Lines Classic for Kids began as a two-day Christmas tournament in the early 1980’s, played at the Omni and known as the Cotton States Classic. Then, Tech and Georgia alternated as the host school each year through 1989. The Yellow Jackets never lost a game in four tournaments as the host school, posting an 8-0 record against teams like Nebraska, Alabama, Navy (with David Robinson), Texas, Auburn and Pittsburgh.
Beginning in 1990, the event was reduced to a one-day double-header involving both Tech and Georgia against strong intersectional opponents. After the 1990 and 1991 double-headers were held in the Omni, the event moved to the Georgia Dome in 1992, where it remained until this year. Under the double-header format, Tech is 6-3 with wins over Kentucky, Louisville and Vanderbilt to its credit.
All Five Starters Scoring in Double Figures
All five Georgia Tech starters have averaged in double figures in points through five games, led by Jason Collier at 17.4 per game, Alvin Jones at 14.8, Tony Akins at 13.6, Shaun Fein at 11.4 and Jason Floyd at 10.0.
Collier scored a season-high 27 points against Grambling State and 22 against Washington, while Jones led the way against Mercer with 18 and Akins paced the Jackets against Kansas with 17 and against Michigan with 19.
Jackets Hitting the Boards
Only Kansas, led by 7-1 Eric Chenowith, has been able to beat Georgia Tech on the boards in four games this season (42-34). The Yellow Jackets are outrebounding their opponents collectively, 42.8-35.2, including a 49-36 advantage in the last game against Michigan.
Jason Collier has paced the Jackets on the board thus far with 9.8 per game, followed by Alvin Jones at 9.2 per game and Jon Babul at 5.0. Tech averaged 36.9 rebounds per game last season.
Jones, the ACC’s career rebound leader among active players with 568, grabbed 16 against Michigan, the best for a Jacket this season.
Akins Makes Solid Sophomore Start
Sophomore point guard Tony Akins has gotten off to a solid start, averaging 13.6 points and 6.0 assists while committing just 13 turnovers in Tech’s first five games. He has hit 12 of his 29 three-point attempts, making him Tech’s top marksman at 41.4 percent.
The Lilburn, Ga., native posted a season-high 17 points with five assists and just two turnovers against 11th-ranked Kansas in the final of the Great Alaska Shootout, then beat that mark with a team-best 19 points against Michigan, including 6-for-6 from the free throw line. He had six points and seven assists against Washington in Alaska, 10 points and seven assists versus Grambling State, and in the season-opener against Mercer, he scored 16 points, including 4-for-5 three-pointers, with eight assists and just two turnovers.
Collier Reprises Tech Debut vs. Georgia
Jason Collier made his Georgia Tech debut against Georgia last season, and it still remains one of his better performances in a Yellow Jacket uniform. Though he scored more points in several games, his 22-point, 11-rebound effort with five blocked shots helped rally Tech from a 15-point, second-half deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation. The Jackets went on to win 84-79 in overtime.
That game also was one of Tony Akins’ best efforts of his freshman season. The 5-11 point guard scored 24 points, his second-highest point total of the season, with seven assists.
A Fein Millennium
With his first point against Washington, junior guard Shaun Fein reached 1,000 for his career. Fein has played just five games in a Georgia Tech uniform after transferring from Stonehill College, an NCAA Division II school in Easton, Mass., where he amassed 971 points in two seasons. In 1997-98, he averaged 19.7 points and 4.8 assists while earning conference Player of the Year and NABC All-America honors.
Jason Collier should be next in line for the 1,000-point club. The 7-0 senior has scored 517 points for the Jackets, following 406 at Indiana for a total of 923 points.
Twenty-nine players have scored 1,000 or more points in a Tech uniform.