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Starting Five: Georgia Tech (7-8, 0-2) vs. North Carolina (12-4, 2-0)

Jan. 15, 2011

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

TECH LEADING SCORER: Iman Shumpert, 15.2 ppg
TECH LEADING SCORER, ACC: Mfon Udofia, 14.0 ppg

NORTH CAROLINA LEADING SCORER: Tyler Zeller, 14.6 ppg
NORTH CAROLINA LEADING SCORER, ACC: Tyler Zeller, 14.0 ppg

TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Iman Shumpert, 5.5 rpg
TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Glen Rice, Jr., 5.5 rpg

NORTH CAROLINA LEADING REBOUNDER: John Henson, 8.4 rpg.
NORTH CAROLINA LEADING REBOUNDER, ACC: Tyler Zeller, 7.0 rpg.

TECH PPG: 70.7/68.5 (ACC)
OPP. PPG: 69.2./86.5 (ACC)

NORTH CAROLINA PPG: 78.4/63.0 (ACC)
OPP. PPG: 66.7/58.5 (ACC)

North Carolina Player to Watch: Harrison Barnes: Georgia Tech gets its first look at the freshman sensation. The 6-8, 210-pound forward from Ames, Iowa, who was named a preseason All-American after being named 2010 National Player of the Year by The Sporting News and USA Today, comes into today’s game second on the team in scoring (11.8,10.5, in ACC play). In UNC’s last game, Barnes scored eight points in a 2:06 span in the final 3:38, to fuel the Tar Heels’ comeback victory over Virginia Tech.

Georgia Tech kicks off it’s ACC home schedule when they host North Carolina tonight (Tip-off is at 7:45 p.m.).

The Yellow Jackets ran into a red-hot shooting Clemson team in their last game, dropping an 87-62 loss, Wednesday night. The game was 34-33 at the half, but the Tigers shot 85 percent in the second half, making all nine threes, and 10 of 12 from the foul line to bust things open. They shot an all-time conference record 69.2 percent for the game. Mfon Udofia came off the bench to lead Tech with 14.

The Tar Heels are coming off an emotional 64-61 victory over Virginia Tech, in which they trailed by as much as 16 in the first half. The win was the 300th in the Dean Smith Center. It was the second straight game the Heels won after overcoming a double-digit deficit. John Henson had an ACC-career-high 17 and Kendall Marshall matched his season-high with nine assists.

Georgia Tech was perfect against the Tar Heels last season, sweeping the regular season series for the first time since 1996 then making it three-for-three with a victory in the first round of the ACC Tournament. It was the first time the Jackets had taken all three games in a season against UNC since 1985. The Heels hold a 46-21 edge since Georgia Tech joined the ACC and a 60-21 overall edge.

Tonight’s game can be seen on Fox Sports Net with Tim Brando doing the play-by-play, Mike Gminski providing color analysis and Jenn Hildreth reporting from courtside. As always, the game can be heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network’s flagship stations WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM). Wes Durham and Randy Waters call the action. Fans also can follow the game on Ramblinwreck.com.

Here now, the starting five for today’s game.

Mfon-etics: Through two games Mfon Udofia is Georgia Tech’s leading scorer in ACC play. The sophomore point has put in 14 points in each of Tech’s conference games. The 14 points at Clemson, eight of which came in the first half, matched his season-high set only four days earlier at Boston College and marked the seventh time this season that a reserve hit for double-figures. Since shaking off a 3-for-14 slump over three games heading into conference play, Udofia has shot 55.0 percent (11-for-20).

Time To Take The Defensive: For Georgia Tech to turn things around in ACC play, they’ll need to turn things around on the defensive end. Through two games, opponents are hitting 61.1 percent, 60.6 from three. Those numbers are inflated by Clemson’s 69.2 percent shooting, including an unfathomable 78.6 percent from three (11-for-14, 9-for-9 in the second half), but the Jackets also allowed nine three-point field goals to Boston College in its ACC opener. The 20 threes over two games are the most allowed in consecutive games this season since the 24 scored in back-to-back games by Northwestern and Georgia on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7. Clemson was the first team since Northwestern to shot over 60.0 against Tech, as in four of the six games heading into ACC play, the Jackets had held the opposition to 40.0 percent shooting or lower.

Line Disease: An important area in which the Yellow Jackets have suffered during its current three-game losing streak and, over the last five in which they’ve gone 1-4, is at the foul line. In the last three games they’ve attempted 46 fewer free throws than their opponents (88-42) and have been outscored by 41 (69-28). In ACC play, the Jackets have taken 23 foul shots in two games. That’s two more free throws attempted than Boston College made and one more than Clemson made. Over the last five games, opponents have been to the line at least 24 times in each game. They’d done so three times in Tech’s first 11 games. In those first 11 games, the Jackets had only been outshot at the line four times and only outscored there twice. For the season, Carolina has outshot its opposition 407-255 at the line, a per-game average of 25.4-15.9.

Home Cookin’: Getting back to Alexander Memorial Coliseum may be just what the doctor ordered for the Yellow Jackets. Tech is scoring more than eight points a game better (74.0-65.6) at home, are allowing nearly 19 fewer points (62.4-81.2), and are shooting 43 points better from three (30.9 to 26.6). At AMC, opponents are shooting more than 13 percentage points lower (39.7 to 52.9). Tech also has recorded more than twice as many steals (83-39), handed out nearly twice as many assists (110 to 57), and made more than three times as many blocks (45-13). Tech’s record is 0-5 in true road games, 2-6 overall away from AMC.

Player Foul Control: While fouling has been an issue for Georgia Tech, center Daniel Miller. has shown remarkable restraint, especially at home. In Tech’s seven home games, Miller has committed only nine fouls in 28.6 minutes per game, while blocking a team-leading 22 shots, grabbing 42 rebounds (second) and making 11 steals (fourth). Glen Rice, Jr. also has been whistled only nine times in 26.7 minutes, grabbing 33 rebounds (third), with five blocks (second) and making 12 steals (third).

The Sixth Man: Nate Hicks is making the most of his time, especially on the offensive glass. The freshman center, who averages 9.3 minutes per game, has grabbed 17 of his 27 rebounds off the offensive glass. Against Clemson, he played a career-high 22 minutes, grabbing three offensive caroms. It marked the fourth game this season that he’s grabbed three offensive rebounds. He also recorded his first career assist, his first two steals and first blocked shot.

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