Jan. 10, 2014
By Jon Cooper
Georgia Tech kicks off its ACC home schedule Saturday afternoon when it hosts Notre Dame in the first meeting between the schools as conference foes. Tip-off at McCamish Pavilion is set for noon.
The Yellow Jackets fell to 0-2 in ACC play Tuesday night at Cameron Indoor, but gave No. 16/13 Duke all it could handle before running out of gas in a 79-57 loss that was closer than the final score indicated. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting for the Jackets, who trailed 34-33 at the end of a first half that saw seven ties and two lead changes. Daniel Miller added 14 points and eight rebounds. Tech hung tough, shooting 53.6 percent in the first half, but the Blue Devils heated up in the second 20 minutes, shooting 57.7 percent, including hitting 7-of-12 from three-point range and pulled away.
The Fighting Irish are coming off a 77-70 home loss to NC State on Tuesday night. Center Garrick Sherman had 21 points and 18 rebounds, both game-highs, for Notre Dame, including a bucket that tied the game for the seventh time with six seconds left in the first half. But State hit a 3 just before the half ended and led the rest of the way. The Irish overcame a nine-point second-half deficit to tie the game with 9:06 left, but couldn’t regain the lead.
Saturday’s game will be only the ninth meeting between the schools with Georgia Tech holding a 6-2 series edge and riding a four-game winning streak. The series began in 1941 then took a 25-year hiatus, resuming with four meetings in six years (1966-72). After another 17-year break the teams played a home-and-home in 1989 and ’90, before meeting most recently in 2007 at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas. This is the first game between the schools as ACC rivals and the first at McCamish Pavilion. Georgia Tech is 3-0 in home games, with the last home game coming on Feb. 25, 1989, a 90-80 win.
The game can be seen on WATL in Atlanta, with Bob Rathbun and Cory Alexander calling the action. It also can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, WYAY (106.7 FM), with Brandon Gaudin and Randy Waters on the call and via Satellite Radio on Sirius (Channel 134) and XM (Channel 196). Tech fans also can see the game online on ESPN3 and get up-to-the-minute stats or Ramblinwreck.com.
And now, the starting five for Saturday’s game.
The Last Time We Met: Senior guard Matt Causey hit his third three-pointer of the game with two seconds remaining to lift Georgia Tech past Notre Dame, 70-69, on Nov. 19, 2007 in the third-place game of the Paradise Jam. Forward Jeremis Smith added 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds and guard Anthony Morrow also had 12 for the Jackets, who had five double-digit scorers, including Causey, who hit 3-of-5 from three-point range. Guard Lewis Clinch made four of his five three-point field goal attempts for the Jackets, who shot a sizzling 72.7 percent (8-of-11) on 3’s in the second half and 58.7 percent (10-of-17) from behind the arc for the game. Conversely, Notre Dame made only 5-of-16 from 3 (31.3 percent). The Jackets trailed for most of the game and by five with 1:33 to play, but outscored the Fighting Irish, 9-3 the rest of the way, as Causey hit a pair of 3’s sandwiching a Clinch 3-pointer. It was Tech’s first lead since the 17:08 mark of the first half.
The Mighty Quinton: Even before Robert Carter, Jr. got hurt freshman forward Quinton Stephens was beginning to make an impact and earn more playing time on the front line. In the Dec. 29th game against the 49ers, Stephens played 18 minutes, the most court time he’d seen in almost a month, and responded with six rebounds, one off his career-high and his second-highest total of the season. Since the injury to Carter and his ensuing surgery, Stephens has moved from small to power forward and has continued to play big. He matched his career-high with 10 points at Maryland in last Saturday’s ACC opener while again pulling in six rebounds. In the two games, he’s shot 50 percent (5-for-10), and has hit 42.8 percent from three-point range (3-for-7). The three 3-point field goals are one more than he made in the season’s first 12 games. Defensively, he’s blocked three shots over the last three games, matching his total from the first 11 games.
Tech Trivia: Stephens played his high school ball at Marist, in Atlanta. Who was the last scholarship player from Marist to play for Georgia Tech?
Marcus Au-real-ius: Sophomore guard Marcus Georges-Hunt has stepped up offensively with the loss of Carter. In Tech’s last two games, Georges-Hunt has twice led the Yellow Jackets in scoring, while shooting over 52 percent (12-of-23). He led the team in scoring twice over the Jackets’ first 13 games. Last year’s second-leading scorer and second-leading scorer in ACC play, Georges-Hunt has improved from his scoring by nearly bucket a game from last season (12.1 from 10.8), his shooting is up nearly five percentage points both the floor (47.6 from 42.6) and the line (67.4 from 62.9), and he’s handing out nearly an assist more per game (2.33 from 1.48)
Perimeter Maul: Georgia Tech has had difficulties early on in ACC play against the three-point shot. One reason has been the competition. In their two games, the Jackets have played at Maryland, which ranks fourth in the conference, in three-point field goal percentage (37.1 percent) and fifth in 3-pointers made (7.1 per game), then at Duke, which leads the conference in both categories — 41.5 percent shooting and 9.1 3’s made per game. Saturday, the Jackets face another long-distance threat as Notre Dame ranks third in the ACC in 3-point shooting (38.8 percent) and 3-point field goals made (7.4 per game). Home has made a difference for Tech, however, as in the last three games at McCamish, the Jackets have shot a better percentage than their opponent from behind the arc and have an 18-13 edge in 3’s made.
The Sixth Man: Daniel Miller went over the 800 points mark for his career when he hit a jumper at 19:07 of the second half against Duke…Miller is seven blocked shots away from tying John Salley for second place on the all-time Georgia Tech list. Miller enters Saturday’s game with 236 career blocks. That’s good for 22nd all-time in ACC history…Georges-Hunt went over the 500-point plateau at the 14:49 mark of the first half against Duke… Longtime Notre Dame Assistant Coach Rod Balanis played at Georgia Tech from 1991-94. He also red-shirted during Tech’s 1989-90 Final Four team…Trae Golden is looking to shake the doldrums from behind the arc, as he’s 0-for-7 from 3 in ACC play. He’s gone 0-fer in three of his last four games…Tech Trivia: Matt Harpring (1995-98), a three-time All-ACC First-Teamer and a First-Team All-American in 1998, whose No. 15 has been retired by the Jackets, was the last scholarship player to come to Georgia Tech from Marist. Sophomore guard Brooks Doyle also played at Marist, but he is a non-scholarship player…Georgia Tech was out-rebounded for the first time all season against Duke and did not win the second-chance-points for only the third time all season…The absence of Carter is obvious in the number of opportunities for Georgia Tech at the foul line. The Jackets have taken 10 or fewer attempts in two of their last three games and have been outshot there 56-31 over the last three games. The Jackets shot a season-low six free throws in the last game and did not score from the line for the first time this season…The Jackets have been aggressive in their shot-blocking, rejecting at least three shots in each of the last six games. They’ve turned back 33 shots overall, a 5.5 blocks-per-game average.
GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Trae Golden, 12.6 ppg
NOTRE DAME LEADING SCORER: Garrick Sherman, 14.9 ppg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 14.5 ppg
NOTRE DAME LEADING SCORER (ACC): Garrick Sherman, 17.5 ppg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Robert Carter, Jr., 9.3 rpg (injured)/Daniel Miller, 7.9
NOTRE DAME LEADING REBOUNDER: Garrick Sherman, 8.3 rpg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Daniel Miller, 6.0 rpg
NOTRE DAME LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Garrick Sherman, 13.0 rpg
GEORGIA TECH PPG: 70.3/59.0 ppg.
OPP. PPG: 66.7/78.0 ppg.
NOTRE DAME PPG/ACC: 79.3/74.5 ppg.
OPP. PPG/ACC: 71.1/77.0 ppg.
NOTRE DAME Player To Watch: Eric Atkins: The 6-2, 182-pound senior guard is the main man for the Fighting Irish in the back court with the departure of leading scorer Jerian Grant (academic issues). Atkins, two-time defending ACC Player of the Week, makes the offense go. It’s an attack, which ranks second in the ACC in scoring (79.3 ppg) and leads the conference in assists per game (17.6 apg). On the watch list for the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award, N.D.’s floor general is extremely efficient with the ball, as his career assists-to-turnovers ratio is among the best in the nation among active players. In conference play he has a 4:1 ratio in two games, including an 11:1 assists-to-turnovers game last Saturday in the Irish’s upset of Duke.
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