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Starting Five: Georgia Tech (16-4, 4-0) at No. 3 Duke (17-0, 3-0)

Jan. 20, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

TECH LEADING SCORER: Alex Montgomery, Tyaunna Marshall, 14.5 ppg
TECH LEADING SCORER, ACC: Tyaunna Marshall, 16.8 ppg

DUKE LEADING SCORER: Jasmine Thomas, 15.6 ppg
DUKE LEADING SCORER, ACC: Jasmine Thomas, 18.7 ppg

TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Alex Montgomery, 8.5 rpg
TECH LEADING REBOUNDER, ACC: Alex Montgomery, 8.0 rpg

DUKE LEADING REBOUNDER: Krystal Thomas, 7.7 rpg
DUKE LEADING REBOUNDER, ACC: Krystal Thomas, 7.0 rpg

TECH SCORING: 66.8/ppg/64.2 (ACC)
OPPONENT: 51.8 ppg/54.2 (ACC)

DUKE SCORING: 70.1 ppg/71.7 (ACC)
OPPONENT: 54.4 ppg/59.0 (ACC)

DUKE PLAYER TO WATCH: Jasmine Thomas – The senior guard, who was voted Preseason Player of the Year, is living up to the hype, averaging 18.7 points (fourth in the ACC), 5.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists (tied for seventh) and 2.3 steals (tied for 10th). She’s shooting 46.8 percent in conference play, 40.0 from three (8-for-20), tied for ninth. Thomas also has been a force on the boards, pulling in 5.7 rebounds per game in ACC games (third on the team), including 14 on the offensive glass (second on the team, sixth in the conference). Thomas is currently ninth on the Duke all-time scoring charts and is 13 points away from moving into sole possession of eighth.

Georgia Tech puts its 13-game winning streak and school-best 4-0 start in ACC play on the line when they visit third-ranked Duke. Tipoff at Cameron Indoor is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The game will be the Jackets’ third of the season against a top-five team, as they’ve already faced then-No. 1 Connecticut and No. 4 Tennessee.

Tech survived the upset bid by upstart Wake Forest, winning a crazy 54-46 affair on Monday at Joel Coliseum. Ty Marshall led the way with 17 points, 15 in the second half, as the Jackets overcame a seven-point, second-half deficit and survived despite going without a field goal for 14:35 seconds. The game was one of runs, with Tech jumping out 14-0, Wake countering with a 13-0 run, Tech following with a 13-0 run of its own, then Wake answering with a 20-0 streak. A game-closing 13-3 run by Jackets proved decisive.

The Blue Devils also are unbeaten in the ACC and are off to the best start in Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie’s 19-year tenure in Durham. Like Tech, Duke won ugly on the road in its last game, taking a 57-43 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday. Sophomore Allison Vernerey led the way, as Duke jumped out to a 34-21 halftime lead, let the Hokies get within seven, then pulled away, sparked by a 9-0 run.

Tech Head Coach MaChelle Joseph has never beaten Duke in 10 previous tries, and the Blue Devils have won the last 31 games between the two teams, including the last 14 at Cameron. The last Georgia Tech victory in Durham came on Jan. 29, 1993, an 86-80 overtime victory. Tech’s last victory over Duke came the following February, 61-56 at AMC.

Tonight’s game will be televised on RSN, with Rich Waltz doing the play-by-play and Stephanie Ready providing the color. As always, Tech fans can catch the game on WREK, 91.1 FM or online at www.WREK.org. Richard Musterer calls the action with Kyle Tait adding color analysis. Fans can get live stats by logging onto Ramblinwreck.com.

Now, the Starting Five for tonight’s game.

Trumping the Leading Lady: Before leaving Monday’s game after just seven minutes, Wake Forest’s Brittany Waters was finding out that it’s not fun being the leading scorer on a team opposing the Yellow Jackets. Waters averages 12.0 ppg but was shut out by Georgia Tech, who limited her to 0-for-3 shooting, 0-for-1 from three and didn’t even allow her to attempt a free throw. Other victims include Virginia’s Chelsea Shine (10.8 ppg), and Ariana Moorer (10.4), who were held to four and six points, and Tennessee State’s Meredith Stafford, who averages 11.1 per game but was held to four points on 0-for-12 shooting. Clemson’s Sthefany Thomas had 17 points, but shot 2-for-9 in the second half, with her second basket coming with 1:14 left and the game no longer in doubt. Only North Carolina’s Italee Lucas, who put in 21 points on 9-for-17 shooting was truly effective down the stretch.

Three-tra: Metra Walthour has quietly become a deadly three-point threat. She’s made six three-pointers in ACC play — one three-point FGM behind team leader Alex Montgomery — and is making them at big times. Against North Carolina, her only three of the game came with 25 seconds remaining and Tech down two, providing the winning margin in Tech’s 71-70 victory. She struck again on Monday, as her second three in eight tries, with 4:03 left, broke a 41-41 tie and gave the Yellow Jackets the lead for good. Even her first-half threes have mattered, as against Clemson, her three-pointer with 4:34 left in the half extended Tech’s lead to 28-23. The Tigers never got the game to within one possession thereafter.

Teen Angst?: If Georgia Tech can knock off Duke today it would snap the Blue Devils 17-game winning streak and their 17-game home winning streak. It would mark the second time this season that MaChelle Joseph’s squad put an end to a double-digit win streak within the ACC. Tech’s victory over North Carolina put an end to the Tar Heels’ 14-game streak.

Demonizing the Deacons: Senior co-captain Deja Foster is proving that there’s much more to her game than scoring points. Against Wake Forest, Foster totaled two points — the third time in four ACC games that she’s been held to single digits — but pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out six assists, both career highs. In Tech’s last two games she has grabbed 19 caroms, six of them on the offensive end, and she’s gathered at least two offensive rebounds in every game she’s played this season. Foster also has averaged 2.0 steals a game in Tech’s four ACC contests, and has made at least one theft in every game but one. It’s hardly a coincidence that Tech is 13-1 since her return.

Our Friend The Three: Through four ACC games, Georgia Tech is out-shooting opponents from behind the arc 32.0 to 28.6, and for the season, their 34.0 shooting from three is actually higher than Duke’s 33.5, although the Blue Devils have taken 21 more attempts. While Tech and its opponents each have made 16 three-pointers, the fact that the Yellow Jackets are even up shows a remarkable turnaround from last season. During the 2009-10 campaign, the Yellow Jackets were outshot 144-89 from long range in ACC games and outshot 28.9 to 25.8.

The Sixth Man: Frida Fogdemark has become the designated sharpshooter Coach Jo was looking for when she recruited her from Sweden. Over the last four games in which she’s taken a shot, Fogdemark has made five field goals, all of them from three. The five 3-FGMs have come in nine attempts (55.9 shooting). Fogdemark is 3-for-5 in ACC play (60.0). It’s quite a comeback considering the freshman started the year 2-for-13 (15.3) and was 6-for-22 (27.2) in non-conference play.

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