Dec. 28, 2012
By Jon Cooper
Georgia Tech closes out the 2012 portion of its schedule when it takes on Fordham of the Atlantic 10 Conference tonight at McCamish Pavilion. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets have feasted on their non-conference foes, especially at home, winning four straight games, including a 73-41 pasting of The Citadel last Saturday. Kammeon Holsey came off the bench to score a game-high 14 points, and freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt added 12. The Yellow Jackets never trailed, scoring the game’s first seven points, leading by 25 at the half, then pulling away in the second half. Tech limited the Bulldogs to 25.4 percent shooting for the game, 13.6 percent from three.
After losing seven of their first eight, the Rams made it two of three in their last game, an 81-75 victory over Siena at Rose Hill Gym last Sunday. The game marked a happy return from injury for senior forward Chris Gaston, who scored a game-high 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Junior guard Branden Frazier added 20 points and 10 assists, for his first career double-double. The Rams led wire-to-wire, but got a second-half scare, as the Saints cut an 18-point lead to one midway through the second half, but Fordham responded with a 6-0 run and was never in danger thereafter.
Tonight’s game is only the fourth meeting in the series, with the Jackets holding a 2-1 series lead. Each team has won on its home court and Tech won the first game, played on a neutral court (Madison Square Garden). The Yellow Jackets dropped the last meeting between the schools, 72-66, one year ago today in the Bronx.
The game can be seen on line on ESPN3 with Nolan Alexander and Kurt Hoyt calling the action. It also can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM), with Wes Durham and Randy Waters calling the action or via satellite radio on Sirius (Ch. 117) and XM (Ch. 195). Tech fans can follow the game online on ESPN3 or on Ramblinwreck.com.
And now, the starting five for tonight’s game.
The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech got 17 points from Jason Morris and 16 from Brandon Reed, but the Rams held off the Yellow Jackets, 72-66, last Dec. 29 at Rose Hill Gym. Chris Gaston dominated inside, scoring 23 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, both game-highs, for Fordham, while point guard Branden Frazier added 19 points and six assists. The Jackets held Fordham to 37.9 percent, while shooting 42.4 percent, but were outscored 22-6 at the foul line — getting outshot, 34-14. Tech led by as much as six in the first half, but the Rams closed the half on a 7-0 run to take a 32-31 lead into intermission. The Jackets, who trailed by 10 with 9:55 left, cut the deficit to one on a Reed three with :31 seconds left, but they would get no closer.
Getting Defensive: The Yellow Jackets have really clamped down on opponents and begin play tonight as the seventh-ranked team in the country in field goal percentage defense. Both Alabama State and The Citadel scored only 41 points and shot a combined 25.2 percent (30-for-119) and in the last four games, all at McCamish, Tech’s opponents have shot 30.2 percent (70-for-232). Only one opponent, UNC Wilmington, has shot better than 35 percent (39.3 percent). Fordham enters the game ranked 15th of 16 in scoring in the A-10 (64.6 ppg) and is 13th of 16 in field goal percentage (41.7). The Rams are 12th in three-point shooting (32.0).
Spreading the Wealth: Georgia Tech has not relied on one player to carry the scoring burden, as over the last eight games, eight different players have led the team in scoring. Marcus Georges-Hunt and Kammeon Holsey have led the Jackets the most, three times each, while Robert Carter, Jr. and Brandon Reed each have led the team twice and Mfon Udofia has led the team one time. Only once all season has the same player led or had a share of the lead in back-to-back games, as Georges-Hunt shared the lead with Carter against Presbyterian then led the team against Rice.
20 Somedays: While trying to figure out who will lead the Yellow Jackets has been difficult to nail down, figuring out how much that leader will score has been a little easier. It will be right around 20. No Yellow Jacket has scored as many as 20 points in a game this season, although several have come close. Brandon Reed and Robert Carter, Jr. have come closest, with both going for 19. Reed did it on Nov. 25 against St. Mary’s in the DirecTV Classic, going 6-for-8, 4-for-6 from three and 3-for-4 from the line. Carter had 19 on Dec. 8 against UNC Wilmington at McCamish, going 8-for-12, 0-for-1 from three and 3-for-6 from the line). Holsey and Georges-Hunt came within a bucket, as Holsey had 18 in the season opener against Tulane on Nov. 9 (7-for-9, 4-for-5 from the line), and Georges-Hunt had 18 against Georgia on Dec. 4 (5-for-10, 3-for-6 from three, 5-for-8 from the line).
Under-40 Achievers: A harbinger of Georgia Tech success this season has been the ability to hold their opponents under 40 percent shooting. The Yellow Jackets have succeeded in doing so seven times thus far in 10 games and are 7-0. Of course, that success is hardly something to be taken for granted, as last season, Tech held 15 opponents under 40 percent shooting, yet managed only a 7-8 record in such games.
The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech hasn’t trailed much over its recent four-game stretch of home games, as three times they’ve led wire-to-wire, vs. Georgia, Alabama State and Citadel. They trailed for a total of 7:45 against UNC Wilmington, using a gritty late comeback to win…The Jackets’ back-to-back 30-point wins are the first since the 2006-07 season when they beat Elon, 83-49, no Nov. 10, 2006, then Jackson State, 100-70, on Nov. 13 … Georges-Hunt’s 12-point game against The Citadel assured that he would not have his first back-to-back single-digit scoring games this season. His only other single-digit game came against Illinois, when he had nine and was followed by his 18-point, six-rebound, two-assist effort vs. Georgia … White has been golden for Georgia Tech this season, as the Yellow Jackets are 8-0 in the games in which they’ve worn white jerseys.
GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 11.5 ppg
FORDHAM LEADING SCORER: Branden Frazier, 16.8 ppg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Robert Carter, Jr., 6.9 rpg
FORDHAM LEADING REBOUNDER: Ryan Canty, 6.2 rpg
GEORGIA TECH PPG: 65.2 ppg
OPPONENT PPG: 53.6 ppg
FORDHAM PPG: 64.6 ppg
OPPONENT PPG: 74.0 ppg
Fordham Player to Watch: Branden Frazier: The 6-1 junior guard can fill it up, as he’s fourth in the Atlantic 10 in scoring. The Rams’ tri-captain has been especially hot over his last three games, averaging 21.7 points and 6.3 assists, including a career-high 26 in a loss to Connecticut and his first career double-double the last time out in the win against Siena. Frazier is shooting over 51 percent (20-for-39) in those games and right at 50 percent from three (8-for-16). He’s not just scoring, however, as his 5.1 assists per game rank third in the A-10, his plus-1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio is ninth in the conference, his 34.8 minutes per game rank seventh, and at the line he’s shooting 87.9 percent fourth in the A-10.