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Seniors Bid Adieu as Tech Hosts Wake Forest

Feb. 24, 2006

ATLANTA –

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As senior Theodis Tarver bids a farewell to the home crowd, Georgia Tech completes its home schedule Saturday with a 1 p.m. meeting against Wake Forest at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

The game will be regionally televised on ABC-TV, airing in Atlanta on WSB-TV, Ch. 2 (see coverage map). The Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network provides radio coverage, which airs in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790), and nationally on XM Satellite Radio, Ch. 192.

Tech (10-15 overall, 3-11 ACC this season), is in 11th place in the ACC standings, a half-game ahead of Wake Forest, following a 73-66 home-court loss to No. 1 Duke Wednesday night. Only three of Tech’s 14 conference games this season have been decided by more than 10 points, and five of them have been decided by three points or fewer.

At home, Tech is 9-5 overall this year, 3-4 in ACC games, and secured its 500th all-time victory at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 12 against NC State.

Wake Forest (14-13, 2-11 ACC) had beaten only Tech in league play this year before surviving a 74-68 overtime win over Clemson Wednesday night. The Demon Deacons won the teams’ first meeting, 86-71, on Jan, 18 in Winston-Salem.

Saturday’s game is the final homecourt appearance for Tarver and senior manager Graham Neff, who will be honored in a pre-game ceremony. Tarver, from Monroe, La., has been on hand for 74 victories in his Tech career, including two NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT berth.

Following a 70-53 homecourt loss to Miami on Feb. 4, head coach Paul Hewitt inserted three different players in the starting lineup for the Florida State game, creating the Yellow Jackets’ sixth different starting lineup this season. Sophomore guard Anthony Morrow and sophomore center Ra’Sean Dickey remained in the lineup, and were joined by junior guard Mario West, Theodis Tarver and freshman guard Lewis Clinch.

The revamped lineup, which sophomore Jeremis Smith rejoined for the last game against Duke, has produced better aggressiveness and offensive punch, and the Jackets produced three consecutive 50-percent shooting efforts for the first time since early last season (Michigan, Georgia, Air Force). It was the first time Tech has accomplished that against three straight ACC foes since the last three regular-season games of the 1995-96 season (Clemson, NC State, Maryland).

Tech has shot 50 percent or better from the floor four times in the last five games, including Wednesday night against Duke, and has collectively posted a 49.0 percent effort over that stretch. The Yellow Jackets have shot 46.6 percent from three-point range, including 11-for-18 at Florida State, a high for the Paul Hewitt era.

The brightest spot for Georgia Tech over the last several games has been the emergence of sophomore center Ra’Sean Dickey, who has averaged 16.3 points and shot 62.7 percent from the floor over his last 10 games.

The 6-9 native of Clio, S.C., is averaging 12.9 points and 6.3 rebounds for the season, ranking second in the ACC in field goal percentage (60.1 pct.). In conference games, he has made 60.9 percent, which leads the ACC.

Dickey’s improvement has helped Anthony Morrow, the ACC’s second-leading three-point shooter (42.3 pct.) and the only Tech player to start every game this season, get more good looks from the outside. A 6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C., Morrow ranks 13th in the ACC in scoring at 16.0 points. One of four Tech players averaging in double figures, Morrow has averaged 14.9 points and shoots 40.2 percent from three-point range in ACC games.

Mario West, a 6-4 junior from Douglasville, Ga., Tech’s best on-the-ball defender, has started Tech’s last five games. West, who shares point guard time with sophomore Zam Fredrick, has averaged 5.2 points and shot 57.9 percent from the floor over his last five games, and averages 5.4 points and 2.5 assists for the season.

Also in the starting five are Jeremis Smith, a 6-6 sophomore from Fort Worth, Texas, and Lewis Clinch, a 6-3 freshman from Cordele, Ga., who made his first college start at FSU. Smith is the ACC’s second-leading rebounder at 8.8 per game and averages 11.9 points. Clinch, the ACC’s fifth-leading freshman scorer (7.9 ppg) gives Tech an additional outside shooting threat (45.7 pct. in ACC games).

Off the bench on the perimeter, Fredrick, a 6-0 sophomore from St. Matthews, S.C., has given Tech a big lift offensively in the last five games, averaging 17.2 points while shooting 58.6 percent from the floor (10-of-18 on threes). Fredrick averages 10.8 points a game for the season and has shot 39.1 percent from three-point range in ACC games. D’Andre Bell, a 6-5 wingman from Los Angeles, Calif., averages 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds for the season.

In the post, Tech has Theodis Tarver, a 6-9 senior from Monroe, La., who has started 12 games this season, shot 50 percent from the floor and blocked 34 shots. He averages 3.3 points and 3.0 rebounds.

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