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Starting Five: Georgia Tech (8-8, 1-2) vs. Wake Forest (7-11, 0-3)

Jan. 18, 2011

Starting Five: Georgia Tech (8-8, 1-2) vs. Wake Forest (7-11, 0-3)

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

TECH LEADING SCORER: Iman Shumpert, 16.1 ppg
TECH LEADING SCORER, ACC: Iman Shumpert, 17.7 ppg

WAKE FOREST LEADING SCORER: Travis McKie, J.T. Terrell, 13.3 ppg
WAKE FOREST LEADING SCORER, ACC: C.J. Harris, 12.3 ppg

TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Iman Shumpert, 5.5 rpg
TECH LEADING REBOUNDER, ACC: Daniel Miller, Glen Rice, Jr., 4.7 rpg

WAKE FOREST LEADING REBOUNDER: Travis McKie, 7.6 rpg.
WAKE FOREST LEADING REBOUNDER, ACC: Travis McKie, 6.0 rpg.

TECH PPG: 71.1/71.7 (ACC)
OPP. PPG: 68.5./77.0 (ACC)

WAKE FOREST PPG: 71.6/63.0 (ACC)
OPP. PPG: 75.8/86.0 (ACC)

Wake Forest Player to Watch: Travis McKie: The 6-7, 205-pound forward is a three-time ACC Rookie of the Week, scoring 13.3 points (tops among conference rookies) with 7.6 rebounds (second), including a team-high 41 offensive rebounds (2.7 per game). He’s the only freshman in the top 20 in the ACC in scoring and rebounding. In three conference games, he’s averaged 12.5 points on 42.9 percent shooting, and 71.4 percent from the line, with a team-high five blocks. His Achillies’ heel has been three-point shooting, where he is only 1-for-7.

Back to .500: Georgia Tech tries to make it two straight and seven of nine at Thrillerdome when they host Wake Forest tonight (Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m.).

The Yellow Jackets got 30 points from Iman Shumpert, and 24 from Glen Rice, Jr. — both matching career-highs — and a strong second-half defensive effort to bury North Carolina, 78-58, Sunday night in their ACC home opener. They led wire-to-wire, snapped a three-game losing streak and made it four straight wins over the Tar Heels. Tech led 33-32 at halftime before opening the second half on an 8-0 run then opening up a 20-point bulge with a 22-9 run late in the second half.

The Demon Deacons are winless in three ACC games, having lost by an average of 23 points — and have dropped eight of 10 overall since a season-high three-game winning streak. They’re coming off a 94-65 spanking by Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Wake led 7-0 but was done in by a 17-2, then a 21-6 run by the Hokies in the first half. Gary Clark led four double-digit Demon Deacons with 16, while freshmen McKie and C.J. Harris each added 15.

Georgia Tech is 33-36 all-time against Wake Forest, but has won four of the last six meetings. The teams split last year, with Tech winning by a resounding 21 points, 79-58, on Jan. 28, their largest margin of victory in the series. The Jackets are 23-9 all-time at AMC, and are riding a six-game home winning streak in the series.

Tonight’s game can be seen on ESPNU with Carter Blackburn doing the play-by-play, and LaPhonso Ellis providing color analysis. 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.

Deja Blue: If Iman Shumpert has his way, he’s going to make sure that the Yellow Jackets play North Carolina next year on Jan. 16. A year to the day after going off for a career-high 30 points against UNC in Chapel Hill, the junior guard again scored 30 in leading the Yellow Jackets to victory. Shumpert was 13-for-23 (56.5 percent), with one three-pointer in five tries. Last season, at the Dean Dome, he was 10-for-17 (58.8), and was three for five from three. Coincidentally, this year’s outburst followed a single-digit, two-field goal game against Clemson. Last year, he followed the UNC game with a single-digit, two-field goal game against the Tigers.

For Starters: Getting back into the starting lineup has been good for Glen Rice, Jr. The sophomore guard not only matched his career-high with 24 points against North Carolina, but set a career-high with eight field goals. The Carolina game was just the latest big game from Rice, who has raised his average from 10.5 to 12.9 ppg over the last five games. In that span he’s shot 45.3 percent (34-for-75), made 12 three-point field goals on 38.7 percent shooting (12-for-31) — he’s shooting 60.0 percent in the last two games (6-for-10) — pulled down 5.8 rebounds per game (29) and has come up with nine steals after making nine in his previous eight games. Rice was shutout on the offensive glass against UNC, for only the second time in the last 13 games. Over his previous five games, he had grabbed 13 offensive rebounds.

Clamping Down: Against North Carolina, the Yellow Jackets showed the kind of defensive intensity that had been lacking during the losing streak. They held the Tar Heels to 27.6 percent shooting (the fourth-lowest percentage under Roy Williams) and held UNC without a basket the final 8:47. The 27.6 percent shooting is the lowest for an opponent since the second game of the season, Nov. 12, against Charleston Southern (26.9), while the 16.7 percent from three was the second-lowest by a foe this year, matching Charleston Southern, and behind only the Dec. 22 game against Siena, which shot 15.4 percent (2-of-13).

Just a Little Bit of History `Three-Peating’: Brian Oliver was a thorn in the side of the Demon Deacons from behind the arc last season. Oliver had one of the best shooting days of his freshman season, scoring 13 points on 4-for-5, 3-for-4 from three in the Jan. 28 win at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. When the teams met again on Feb. 13 at Joel Coliseum, he had 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting, all of from three. Tech shot 45.7 percent from three in the two games (16 for 35). Oliver was 7 for 14. No other Jacket had more than four threes (Glen Rice had four in the game at Wake). Oliver enters tonight’s game tied for 18th in career three pointers made, but is only two away from moving up to 17, passing Fred Vinson (also 92), and Jarrett Jack (93). From there, the nearest Yellow Jacket is Brian Oliver.

Youth Will Be Served: No one will ever accuse Head Coach Paul Hewitt of age discrimination. Through 16 games, Hewitt has allowed freshmen or sophomores to play more than 70 percent of available minutes (2,324 of 3,250). Of course, Tech’s roster includes six freshmen and five sophomores. The two seniors, Mo Miller and Lance Storrs play 25.1 minutes per game.

The Sixth Man: Jason Morris is making a niche for himself as a three-point shooter. He’s made at least one three in six straight games after making two in his first 10. In that time, he’s made 9 of 16 (56.2 percent) and has only missed more than one three-point attempt in a game in one game, when he was 1-for-4 against Charlotte.

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