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Starting Five: Georgia Tech vs. No. 17 Louisville

Jan. 23, 2016

By Jon Cooper | The Good Word

– After a week off, Georgia Tech gets back on the court, looking to avoid a season-high three-game losing streak and bounce back from its toughest loss of the season, when it hosts No. 17 Louisville. Tip-off at McCamish Pavilion is set for 4:05 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets suffered a crushing loss last Saturday at McCamish, falling 78-77 to Virginia Tech. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored a game- and career-high 27points, and Nick Jacobs added 15 points and seven rebounds off the bench, but Tech let a double-digit lead slip away in the final four-and-a-half minutes against the Hokies. It was the second straight year the Jackets squandered a late double-digit lead and dropped a heartbreaker to Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech led almost the entire game (37:37), by 15 in the first half and by 10 with 4:32 remaining, before the Hokies put on a 14-3 run, during which the Jackets went 0-for-5 with four turnovers. Georges-Hunt’s layup with 30 seconds remaining tied the game at 77 but Seth Allen’s free throw with three seconds left gave Virginia Tech its only lead of the game, and Georges-Hunt’s final game-winning layup attempt was blocked. The Jackets hurt themselves committing 13, the most in ACC play this season, which the Hokies turned into 14 points. Georgia Tech actually won the turnover battle 14-13, and points off them, 20-14, had a dramatic edge in fast-break points (28-14), points in the paint (52-38) and even second-chance points (11-3).

The Cardinals made it four wins in five ACC games on Wednesday night, racing past Florida State, 84-65, at the KFC Yum! Center. Guard Quintin Snider scored 20 points, one off his career-high, going 3-for-4 from three, to lead four double-digit scorers, while center Chinanu Onuaku added an 11-point/14-rebound double-double. The Cardinals, who led wire-to-wire, used an early 8-0 run for an early double-digit lead and led by 14 at the half. They dominated the boards, outscoring FSU 11-0 on second-chance points in the first half, 24-12 in the paint and 12-3 off the break. A 13-2 run early in the second-half broke the game open and the lead would reach 32 with 6:49 to play. The Cardinals owned the boards all game, outrebounding Florida State 44-32 and they held a 23-12 edge in points off turnovers.

Saturday’s game will be the 30th meeting between the schools but only the second as ACC rivals. Georgia Tech trails 16-13, but holds a 7-4 edge at home. Louisville holds a three-game series winning streak, which spans 17 years, and includes last year’s 51-50 loss at McCamish.

The game can be seen on ESPN2 with Mike Couzens and Chris Spatola calling the action. The game also will be streamed on WatchESPN. It can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, WYAY (93.7 FM) and 680 The Fan (680 AM), with Brandon Gaudin and Randy Waters on the call. You can also hear their call on satellite radio, channel 84 on Sirius and XM. Fans also can get up-to-the-minute stats on Ramblinwreck.com and the GT Gameday App.

And now, the Starting Five for Saturday afternoon’s game.

The Last Time We Met…: Georgia Tech handcuffed No. 17/15 Louisville’s offense but saw its upset bid thwarted late in a 52-51 loss last Feb. 23 at McCamish Pavilion. Tech got 15 from Marcus Georges-Hunt and an 11/11 double-double from Demarco Cox, but let a double-digit second-half lead get away. Charles Mitchell added 14 rebounds to match his Georgia Tech high for the Jackets, who led 41-28 with 9:40 to play. But the Cardinals went on a 20-5 run take a two-point lead with 59 seconds remaining. After Georges-Hunt tied the game with 24 seconds remaining, Louisville guard Terry Rozier hit a layup, and the Cards hit a pair of free throws. A Tadric Jackson three with three seconds remaining pulled Tech within one and was the game’s final points. It was the Jackets’ lone three of the game after missing their first 10 tries. Louisville shot 5-for-10 from three in the second half, after a similarly cold 0-for-6 first half. Tech shot 41.1 percent for the game and held the Cardinals to 37.0 percent shooting and won the rebounding battle, 40-39.

On The Blocks: Georgia Tech swatted away 10 shots against Virginia Tech, the second time they recorded double-figure blocks this season, the first time since Nov. 16 against Tennessee, when they got 12. The Jackets have rejected at least three shots in seven straight games and in 14 games this season and are tied for third with Duke, averaging 5.0 blocks per game in conference play (25 in five games). Fans of blocks should enjoy this game, as Louisville is tied with North Carolina for the ACC lead, with 5.2 blocks per game (26 in five). Keep an eye on a pair of sophomores, one on each team. Tech is led by 6-10, 230-pound sophomore forward Ben Lammers, who knocked away a career-high four shots against the Hokies and has 10 in five ACC games — seven in his last two — which is tied for third with Wake’s Devin Thomas, while Cardinals 6-10, 245 forward/center Chinanu Onuaku leads the ACC with 2.6 bpg (13 in five games).

Tech Trivia: Ben Lammers begins play Saturday three blocks off the lead in ACC play. Who was the last Yellow Jacket to lead the ACC in blocks?

3, It’s a Magic Number: Marcus Georges-Hunt scored a career-high 27 points on Saturday, the second time in five games that he matched or set his career-high. In the process, he continued moving up the school’s all-time scoring chart. Georges-Hunt begins play today 19th all-time, with 1,405 career points — he passed Anthony Morrow (1,400) and Marvin Lewis (1,396) against Virginia Tech — and is seven points shy of moving past Lenny Horton (1977-80) for undisputed possession of 18th. Georges-Hunt has admirably continued the legacy of great Yellow Jackets wearing No. 3, as over the last 25 years, six players have worn the number with three of them — Travis Best (1992-95), Tony Akins (1999-2002) and now Georges-Hunt — ranking in the school’s all-time top 20 scorers. Best is sixth with 2,057 points, while Akins is 11th at 1,658. Longtime NBA pros Stephon Marbury (1995-96 season) and Jarrett Jack (2002-05) also wore the number with distinction. Marbury helped Tech to a regular season ACC championship and the Sweet 16 and still ranks in the top-10 single-season in minutes (1,345, third), three-point field goals (88, fifth), three-point field goal attempts (238, fifth), points (679, eighth) and field goal attempts (514, eighth). Jack helped the team to the 2004 NCAA Championship game and ranks among program career leaders in assist average (5.4, fourth), assists (543, fifth), and steals (183, sixth). The sixth of the group and Georges-Hunt’s immediate predecessor, Moe Miller (2008-11), ranks 12th in school history in assists with 342.

Foul Play: The foul line has not been Georgia Tech’s friend in ACC play, primarily because they aren’t getting there…at least not as often as their opponents. The Jackets were outscored at the line 28-9 and outshot 36-16 by Virginia Tech. It continued a trend, as the Jackets have been outscored and outshot at the line in all five conference games. In the last two games each opponent scored 28 points at the line, while Tech scored 20 combined. In the Jackets’ four losses they’ve been outscored 105-43, and outshot 127-67, with three of the four teams attempting at least 30 foul shots. Carolina just missed with 29. Tech has been whistled for 93 fouls vs. 73 for opponents. Even in their lone ACC win over Virginia, the Jackets were outscored (14-12) and outshot (22-18) at the line. It was the one game where they were whistled for fewer fouls (19-17). It’s the only game in ACC play in which Tech has committed fewer than 20 fouls. Prior to the start of ACC play, the Jackets were outscored at the foul line only three times, outshot four times, and whistled for more fouls five times. Only three times did they commit as many as 20 fouls and only once went over 20.

The Sixth Man: Georgia Tech leads the ACC in three-point shooting (40.5 percent) but will be looking to break out of a cold snap behind the arc. Over their last two games, the Jackets are 9-for-34 (26.5 percent), having shot 26.3 percent (5-for-19) at Notre Dame, and 26.7 (4-for-15) against Virginia Tech. It marks the first time this season they’ve shot below 33 percent from three in back-to-back games and only the fifth time they’ve done so all season. Breaking out offensively may be a difficult task, as Louisville leads the nation in field goal defense (36.1) and are fourth in the ACC (30.3). Tech is second in 3-point field goal defense (25.7)…Tech’s 28 fast-break points against Virginia Tech just missed tying their season-high (29 vs. Cornell in the season-opener) and were seven points more than they had in their previous conference games combined. The plus-14 disparity was season-high — passing the previous high of plus-13, also against Cornell. The breakout game followed Tech’s first game of the season where they were shut out on the break…Trivia Answer: Chris Bosh. Bosh had 40 blocked shots in 16 ACC games (2.5 bpg) during the 2002-03 season…Josh Heath had only his second negative assist-to-turnover game of the season (2:3) against Virginia Tech. He went eight games between negative games with seven of those games of one-or-fewer T.O.s. Last season, Heath had 10 minus games and on four occasions had back-to-back negative games…Georges-Hunt’s four-turnover-game against Virginia Tech was the first such game he’s had since becoming Georgia Tech’s primary ball-handler and the first time in eight games he’s had more than three miscues in a game. He had four games with at least four TO’s over the season’s first 10 games, including a stretch of three straight (four Dec. 5 at Tulane, five Dec. 15 vs. VCU and four Dec. 19 at Georgia), which immediately preceded this eight-game stretch.

GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 15.4 ppg
GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 17.8 ppg
LOUISVILLE SCORING LEADER: Damion Lee, 16.6 ppg

LOUISVILLE SCORING LEADER (ACC): Chinanu Onuaku, 13.4 ppg

GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER: Charles Mitchell, 11.0 rpg
GEORGIA TECH REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Charles Mitchell, 9.4 rpg
LOUISVILLE REBOUNDING LEADER: Chinanu Onuaku, 9.1 rpg

LOUISVILLE REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Chinanu Onuaku, 12.6 rpg

GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Josh Heath, 4.0 apg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, Josh Heath, 3.4 apg
LOUISVILLE ASSISTS LEADER: Quentin Snider, 3.7 apg
LOUISVILLE ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Trey Lewis, 4.7 apg

GEORGIA TECH PPG/ACC: 76.7/74.2 ppg
OPP. 2014-15 PPG/ACC: 71.2/77.8 ppg

LOUISVILLE PPG/ACC: 80.7/69.4
OPP. PPG/ACC: 58.2/60.2

LOUISVILLE Player To Watch – Chinanu Onuaku: The 6-10, 245-pound sophomore is the only returning starter from last year’s team and has picked up his game dramatically. Onuaku leads the ACC in rebounding (12.6 rpg), field goal percentage (63.8), blocked shots (2.6), and defensive rebounds (8.4). He is averaging a double-double in 30 minutes per game in ACC play (13.4 points, 12.6 rebounds, both team highs), having gotten a double-doubles in each of Louisville’s last five games. His eight career double-doubles are the most of anyone on the current roster (no one else has more than one). Onuaku’s 21 offensive rebounds and 42 defensive boards more than double his nearest teammate, while his 13 blocks account for 50 percent of the team’s total, are four times better than the nearest teammate and are a major reason why the Cardinals lead the ACC in blocks (5.2, tied with North Carolina) for the second straight season. As a freshman, Onuaku averaged 3.0 points on 61.6 shooting, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 17.3 minutes.

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