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No. 20 Tech Visits No. 12 North Carolina

Jan. 15, 2010

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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s 20th-ranked (AP) basketball team plays its fourth road game in the month of January Saturday when the Yellow Jackets visit the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., for a 2 p.m. nationally-televised (ESPN) game against 12th-ranked North Carolina.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (12-4, 1-2 ACC) vs.
North Carolina Tar Heels (12-5, 1-1 ACC)
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Tipoff: 2 p.m. Eastern time
Site: Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Television: ESPN – Mike Patrick play-by-play, Len Elmore color
Radio: Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, live on flagship station WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY-FM (106.7). Wes Durham play-by-play, Randy Waters color.
Satellite Radio: XM 144, Sirius 123
On the web: Audio and live stats available at Live video streaming at
Series History: North Carolina leads, 60-20
National Rankings: Tech is ranked No. 20 in the Associated Press poll and No. 18 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. North Carolina is No. 12 in the AP poll, No. 13 in the coaches poll.

Tech is 12-4 overall, 1-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and off to its best start since the 2006-07 season. The Yellow Jackets are 2-2 on opponents’ home courts this season, coming off an 82-75 loss at Virginia Wednesday night.

North Carolina fell to 12-5 overall, 1-1 in the ACC, after an 83-64 defeat at No. 24 Clemson Wednesday night.

Saturday is the first of two meetings this season between the Yellow Jackets and North Carolina, The Tar Heels, who won the only meeting between the two teams last year (104-74 in Chapel Hill), come to Atlanta for a 9 p.m. game on Feb. 16.

Head coach Paul Hewitt, who coached his 300th Tech game last Saturday against Duke, is guiding the Yellow Jackets through a tough stretch which includes four top 25 teams in five games, including Duke (won 71-67), North Carolina (Saturday), Clemson (next Tuesday) and Florida State (Jan. 24).

The North Carolina game is the second of four appearances by Georgia Tech on ESPN or ESPN2. The Jackets host Clemson on ESPN2 Tuesday, then visit Duke for their final ESPN appearance Feb. 4.

The Jackets have been one of the better defensive teams in the ACC so far, ranking third in field goal percentage defense (37.4 pct.) and three-point percentage defense (28.8 pct.). The Jackets held Duke, which was averaging 85.9 points per game, 19 points under that norm, and have allowed 70 points in a game only twice in the last 11 games.

Tech returned to full strength Jan. 2 when Iman Shumpert, the sophomore guard, returned from a six-game absence due to surgery to repair a damaged meniscus in his right knee. Shumpert, who has played an average of 32 minutes in his four games back, had his best offensive game since his return Wednesday night at Virginia, scoring 15 points with six assists.

The Yellow Jackets have been in and out of the Associated Press poll of writers after beginning the season ranked 22nd, and have been ranked No. 20 each of the last two weeks. Tech has been in the ESPN/USA Today coaches top 25 each week of the season, currently holding the 18th position, down from No. 17 last week.

Series with North Carolina

> North Carolina has a 60-20 lead in the all-time series between the two teams, and a 46-18 advantage since Tech joined the ACC. The Tar Heels have won 19 of the last 26 meetings.

> Tech’s last win in the Tar Heels’ home arena was a 92-83 overtime triumph on Feb. 10, 1996, and the Jackets have lost 12 straight in the Smith Center since then. The closest calls for Tech in the last eight meetings in Chapel Hill were a two-point loss in 2000 and a one-point defeat in 2003. Counting regular-season games in Greensboro, Tech is 4-25 on the road against UNC. Tech is 4-17 in the Smith Center.

> Between 1982 and 1996, the Yellow Jackets played eight of their home games with the Tar Heels at the old Omni arena in downtown Atlanta (2-6 record).

> Tech won two of the three meetings between the two teams in 2003-04, the first time the Yellow Jackets won the season series with the Tar Heels since 1996, including an 83-82 victory in the ACC Tournament. Counting ACC and SIC Tournament games played in the city, Tech is 12-21 vs. North Carolina in Atlanta.

> Tech’s greatest success in its series with North Carolina occurred during the middle 1990s when the Jackets won five of seven meetings, including three straight wins over No. 1-ranked Tar Heel teams during the 1993 and 1994 campaigns.

> Tech is 6-11 against UNC under Paul Hewitt, but 6-3 in games played away from Chapel Hill, including a pair of ACC Tournament wins. The Jackets are 4-6 against the Tar Heels under Roy Williams, and 4-7 against Williams all-time.

Tech’s Postmen Always Ring

There’s no question where the focus of Georgia Tech’s offensive plans rest, not to mention its opponents’ defensive schemes – starting post players Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors. They have been called the best front line in the ACC and one of the best in the nation.

Lawal, a 6-9 junior, and Favors, a 6-10 freshman, are Tech’s top two scorers and rebounders, and both rank among the ACC’s top five in rebound average and field goal percentage.

Lawal has seven double-doubles this year and ranks third in the ACC in field goal percentage (56.4 pct.) and rebound average (9.1), while Favors has double-doubles in six games, has shot 58.1 percent from the floor and is Tech’s top rebounder (10.3 pg ) in ACC games.

They have combined to produce 35.7 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ scoring and 43.2 percent of their rebounds. They have accounted for 48.8 percent of Tech’s free throws made and 35.7 percent of its field goals.

Not to be outdone, 6-8 senior Zachery Peacock has given the Jackets a big lift off the bench in the post, averaging 10.7 points per game while shooting 57.3 percent from the floor. He has been Tech’s top scorer in ACC games (15.7 ppg). With Peacock included, Tech’s three-man rotation of big men account for 48.9 percent of Tech’s scoring and 53.9 percent of the rebounds.

Paul Hewitt Quotes – Thursday, January 14

On the impact of not getting loose balls in the loss to Virginia:

“I thought it was a big part [of the loss]. I thought we played really well defensively. Offensively in the first half we were pretty good for the most part. But, they got about 12 points off those “50-50 balls” as I like to call them. We just didn’t convert.

“We weren’t nearly as aggressive as we needed to be. When they got the lead we didn’t display a whole lot of offensive patience. We took some outside shots when we should’ve thrown the ball more inside. When we were in front we did execute, but when we got behind we had some problems. We’re starting to show a trend in that when we get behind we have a tendency not to execute. We get a little frantic when we are behind.”

On if youth is the reason for the team’s inconsistencies right now

“That probably has something to do with it. But, we just need to get better. We can talk about what the causes are, but the causes are not going to do us any good.”

On North Carolina:

“They’re a lot like us. They’re young on the perimeter and really good on the inside. They like to get out in transition and we like to do the same. It’s a big game. It’s a very important game for both teams. It’s going to be a pretty scrappy game. I don’t think it’s going to be pretty. There’s going to be a lot of bodies flying around.”

On the mindset of the team after the loss to Virginia

“I know that we’re anxious to play. I don’t know what [North Carolina’s] mindset is, but we’re pretty anxious to play.”

On the how much depth there is in the ACC:

“It’s the ACC. Somebody was talking to me today that was saying that Virginia is the only unbeaten team in conference play after two or three league games and they were picked to finish last by the writers. You just never know.”


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