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Starting Five: Virginia (15-5, 5-2, ACC) at Georgia Tech (11-8, 1-6 ACC)

Feb. 2, 2013

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Georgia Tech, which has been playing some of its most spirited ball of the season lately, looks to get back in the win column, hosting the surprising Virginia. Tip-off at McCamish Pavilion Sunday is set for 3:00 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets nearly came all the way back from an 11-point, second-half deficit Tuesday night, but came up just short, falling to Clemson, 63-60, at Littlejohn Coliseum. Daniel Miller had 16 points and Kam Holsey added 14 for the Jackets, who also got a team-leading eight rebounds from Mfon Udofia. Tech led by 10 at the 11:55 mark of the first half but went scoreless over the half’s final five minutes, turning the ball over on its final three possessions, and trailed 36-30 at intermission. They trailed by 11 three minutes into the half but chipped away at the lead, cutting the deficit to three on four different occasions and getting two chances to tie. But with 17 seconds left, Udofia hit only one of two free throws, then Brandon Reed’s game-tying three with two seconds remaining didn’t go. Tech shot only 26.7 percent from three (4-for-15) and committed 17 turnovers, which Clemson turned into 21 points.

The Cavaliers, who are tied for second in the conference with Duke (they’d been picked for seventh in preseason), made it four straight their last time out, upending No. 19 NC State, 58-55, Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena. Joe Harris scored a game-high 22 and Akil Mitchell added 14 points and 12 rebounds. Both played key roles in a game-closing 13-6 run that allowed the Cavs to overcome a late four-point deficit and win its 12th straight at home and its first game against a ranked opponent this season (they’re 1-for-1). Harris scored seven points in the run, while Mitchell hit an 18-foot jumper to put the Wahoos ahead for good. UVA, ranked third in the nation in scoring defense (51.2 ppg), held the conference’s top-ranked scoring offense to one freethrow over the final four minutes and 37.7 percent shooting for the game.

Today’s game will be the first of two meetings this season (they’ll get together again in Charlottesville on Feb. 24th) and the 73rd in a series that dates back to 1947. The Jackets hold a 38-34 edge but have lost five straight and six of the last seven meetings. Tech has won two-thirds of the games in Atlanta (22-11), and will try to break a four-game home-court losing streak against the Wahoos in this first meeting at McCamish Pavilion.

The game can be seen on ESPNU, with Carter Blackburn and Jay Williams calling the action and Allison Williams reporting from the sidelines. It also can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY (106.7 FM), with Wes Durham and Randy Waters calling the action and via Satellite Radio (Sirius Ch. 94, XM Ch. 193). Tech fans also can follow the game online on WatchESPN or Ramblinwreck.com.

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

The Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech had a tough night offensively, falling to the Cavaliers, 70-38, last Jan. 19, at Philips Arena. Kam Holsey had 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting for Tech, but the Jackets shot only 29.2 percent and made only 1 of 15 three-point attempts (6.7), in scoring its fewest points in a game in 40 years and the second-lowest total in the series. Holsey’s three-point play at the 17:52 mark of the first half gave Tech its only lead, as they’d trail by 18 at the half and never got closer than 16 in the final 20 minutes. Virginia’s Mike Scott, who now plays all his home games at Philips as a member of the Atlanta Hawks, had a game-high 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting.

Point(s) Taken Away: If Georgia Tech is to break its current five-game series losing streak, the longest since losing eight straight between 1981 and 1983, it’s going to have to score the ball better than it has. During the recent losing streak the Jackets have seen their point production drop in each successive game. Since their last win, a 94-76 rout in the 2008 ACC Tournament, Tech has scored 84, 75, 64, 56 and, last season, 38. Looking for a scoring binge today may be asking a lot, as the Jackets enter today ranked eighth in the ACC in scoring offense (63.7 ppg). While that’s nearly two possessions more than Virginia, which is last in the conference at 58.6, the Cavaliers lead the ACC in scoring defense, allowing 52.3 ppg, three points fewer than the nearest ACC team (Miami, which is next at 55.4 — Tech is ninth at 70.3 ppg allowed). The Cavs have held seven ACC opponents and six consecutive foes under 60 points.

Tech Trivia: Freshmen Marcus Georges-Hunt and Robert Carter, Jr. are currently 1-2 in scoring on the Yellow Jackets. Should they finish that way, they would be the third pair of freshmen to lead Tech in scoring. Who comprised the previous two duos?

Dan The Man: Daniel Miller has picked things up on the offensive end in ACC play. Against Clemson, the junior center led the team in scoring for the third time this season and second time in six games, scoring a career-high 16 points. He hit eight of 12 shots. Both the field goal attempts and field goals made are season highs and the 16 points marked the second time in six games that he reset his career high (he had 15 at NC State on Jan. 9). After shooting below 30 percent in two of his first three ACC games, Miller hasn’t shot below 57 percent in any of the last four, shooting a combined 61.3 percent (19-for-31).

FTMfon: While Mfon Udofia was probably beating himself up over his one missed foul shot in six attempts Tuesday night at Clemson, he’s been as close to money at the line as the Yellow Jackets get. In ACC play, the senior point is converting at 75.9 percent, hitting 22-for-29. He’s tied for sixth in the ACC in conference play with Clemson’s Milton Jennings and is the only Tech player converting at 70 percent. His 22 free throws made vs. the ACC are double the nearest teammate (Robert Carter, Jr. has 11 FTMs in 20 attempts) and he’s had only one conference game in which he’s missed more than one free throw. Udofia shot 61.5 percent last season and made 24 free throws the entire ACC season.

The Sixth Man: Look for Robert Carter, Jr. to have a bounce-back game. Carter matched his season-low of points (3) and field goals (1), as well as his having his second-lowest rebounding day (3) against Clemson. After his first three-point game vs. Cal on Nov. 23 he had 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting against St. Mary’s and after his one-rebound game against Fordham on Dec. 29, he set his career-high, grabbing 12 boards against Chattanooga as part of a 13-12 double-double…The 21 points off turnovers by Clemson were a season-high allowed by Tech. The previous high had been 16 by Chattanooga on Jan. 2 and UNC Wilmington Dec. 8…Tech Trivia Answer: The previous pairs of freshmen to go 1-2 in scoring were Mark Price, who led the ACC at 20.3 ppg, and John “Spider” Salley, who had 11.5 in 1982-83, and Javaris Crittenden and Thaddeus Young, who tied at 14.4 ppg in 2006-07. Georges-Hunt and Carter also would be the sixth tandem of ACC frosh to do lead their teams. Stephon Marbury (18.9 in 1995-96) and Chris Bosh (15.6 ppg in 2002-03) also led Georgia Tech in scoring their first year…Georgia Tech is still looking for its first win against Virginia in the Tony Bennett era. They are 0-4 against the Cavs under Bennett…Tech has had some deft hands lately, as over their last three games they have 26 steals, with nine in each of their last two games.

GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 10.5 ppg
VIRGINIA LEADING SCORER: Joe Harris, 15.2 ppg

GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER (ACC): Robert Carter, Jr., 10.1 ppg
VIRGINIA LEADING SCORER (ACC): Joe Harris, 15.6 ppg

GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Robert Carter, Jr., 6.7 rpg
VIRGINIA LEADING REBOUNDER: Akil Mitchell, 9.0 rpg

GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Daniel Miller, 7.3 rpg
VIRGINIA LEADING REBOUNDER (ACC): Akil Mitchell, 8.7 rpg

GEORGIA TECH PPG: 65.5/63.7 pp.
OPP. PPG: 59.7/70.3 ppg.

VIRGINIA PPG: 62.6/58.6 ppg.
OPP. PPG: 51.2/52.3 ppg.

VIRGINIA Player To Watch: Joe Harris: The 6-6, 233-pound junior guard is a big reason why Virginia is third in the conference in three-point shooting, as he’s hitting 38.4 percent from downtown. Harris, the ACC’s sixth-leading scorer (15.2 ppg), ninth-best shooter (46.6 percent) and 10th-best free-throw shooter (73.9 percent), is especially lethal from behind the arc, as he’s converting at a conference-best 45.9 percent — 10 points higher than UNC’s Reggie Bullock. Harris’ 2.3 3-pointers per game tie for fifth and he is three threes away from moving into seventh place on UVA’s all-time three-pointers list. The hot-shot has led the team in scoring 12 times, also is having his best season in scoring, rebounding (4.1), and assists (2.4). Last season against Tech, Harris was second on UVA in scoring, with 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting, with five rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

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