Dec. 3, 2012
By Jon Cooper
Georgia Tech welcomes the Georgia Bulldogs to town for the 189th renewal of their basketball rivalry and the first at McCamish Pavilion. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets are just happy to return home, as tonight will be their first game at McCamish in almost three weeks. They’re coming off a 75-62 loss to No. 22 Illinois on Nov. 28 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Kammeon Holsey came off the bench to lead the Jackets with 14 points, and Jason Morris and Mfon Udofia each added 10. Tech used a 17-4 run to take a 54-50 lead midway through the second half, but the Illini finished the game on a 21-4 run to take over the game.
The Bulldogs dropped their fourth game in five, falling, 64-53, to South Florida at the USF Sun Dome, in the SEC-Big East Challenge. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a game-high 19 points for Georgia. With the game tied at 50, USF went on a 9-0 run in a little over two minutes and UGA shot only 1-for-9 the rest of the way, never getting closer than six in dropping to 0-3 in the Challenge.
Tonight’s game will be the 189th meeting in a series that began in 1906. The Yellow Jackets hold a 102-86 lead and are 60-25 in home games. They’ve won six of the last eight at home but lost the finale at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, dropping a heartbreaking 73-72 decision on Dec. 7, 2010.
The game can be seen live on ESPNU with Dave Neal and Kara Lawson calling the action. 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. It also can be heard via satellite radio on Sirius (Ch. 149) and XM (Ch. 190). Tech fans can follow the game online on ESPN3 or on Ramblinwreck.com.
And now, the starting five for tonight’s game.
The Last Time We Met: Jason Morris scored 15 second-half points and Kammeon Holsey, Brandon Reed and Glen Rice each added 12, as the Yellow Jackets came back from a 29-25 halftime deficit to take a 68-56 decision, giving Brian Gregory a victory in his first game in the Georgia Tech-Georgia rivalry. Daniel Miller, who had 10 points and nine rebounds, ignited a 12-0 run in the second half for Tech, which won its first game in Athens since Nov. 26, 1976, ending a 13-game losing streak at Stegeman Coliseum. UGA guard Gerald Robinson had 16 of his game-high 20 in the first half, as the Bulldogs held a nine-point lead. Tech chipped it down to four at the half and then dominated the final 20 minutes, shooting 65 percent, while holding the home team to 30.8, 25 percent from three.
Hard Lessons: The Yellow Jackets have eight underclassmen on their roster and are starting two freshmen, but they are more than holding their own against tough, more experienced competition. Tech’s last three opponents — California, St. Mary’s, and Illinois — either were receiving votes or were ranked in the national top 25. They were 1-2 in the games, a win over the Gaels in the finale of the DirecTV Classic sandwiched between losses to Cal and No. 22 Illinois, but in the losses, they held second-half leads, 41-38 over Cal with 15:33 to play, and 58-56 over Illinois with a little more than six minutes to play. The freshmen have responded, as the trio of guard Chris Bolden, and forwards Robert Carter, Jr. and Marcus Georges-Hunt have combined to score almost 40 percent of the Jackets’ points.
By Georges, He’s Got It: Georges-Hunt is off to a great start in his freshman year. He’ll head into tonight’s game as the defending ACC Rookie of the Week. He earned the honor by averaging averaged 11.0 points (on 42.9 percent shooting) and 4.7 rebounds in the DirecTV Classic. He nearly recorded his first career double-double against Rice, when he scored 11 points and had nine rebounds. Georges-Hunt has scored in double-figures in five of Tech’s six games and just missed making it 6-for-6, scoring nine against Illinois. He became the first Jacket since the 2009-10 season to accomplish the feat. That year, former Jacket Derrick Favors earned it four times and senior Mfon Udofia did it once.
Regaining the Home Court Advantage?: The Georgia Tech-Georgia series has been dominated by the home team, but recently that tradition has gone by the boards. The visiting team is actually riding a two-game winning streak heading into tonight’s game. To show how rare road victories have been until recently, the Yellow Jackets have a .706 winning percentage in Atlanta (60-25) and the Bulldogs hold a .638 edge in Athens (51-29). Furthermore, since 1995, when the series was moved from The Omni and has alternated between the schools, the home team has won 14 of the 17 games. The only road win in that time prior to the last two years was Georgia’s win in 2000 at AMC.
Making the Most of His Time: Redshirt Junior forward Kam Holsey has been scoring in a hurry. Holsey doesn’t start and is seeing only 20.3 minutes a game — sixth on the team — yet he is leading the Jackets in scoring at 11.2 ppg and is battling Robert Carter, Jr. for the rebounding lead. Hitting 67.6 percent of his shots (25-of-37) has helped, as has a major improvement from the free throw line. Holsey is shooting 85 percent there (17-of-20). That’s a drastic improvement from last year’s 51.6 percent.
The Sixth Man: Point guard Mfon Udofia has found his stroke of late, as he’s shooting 56.0 percent from the floor in his last three games, 42.9 percent from three…Georgia Tech’s win over St. Mary’s gave them a third-place finish in the DirecTV Classic. Tech’s best finish in a preseason event since a third in the 2007 Paradise Jam…Opponents are having a hard time scoring on the Jackets, as they are scoring 55.7 ppg, that’s third in the ACC. They’ve even held two teams under 40…Opponents’ shooting isn’t much better, as the Jackets are limiting them to 39.1 percent (fourth in the ACC) and only 28.6 from three (third). During the DirecTV Classic, opponents shot 34.6, 28.1 from three…The Jackets have made a concerted effort to hit the offensive glass, as they are grabbing 11.7 offensive caroms per game.
GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Kammeon Holsey, 11.2 ppg
GEORGIA LEADING SCORER: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 17.6 ppg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Robert Carter, Jr., 5.7 rpg
GEORGIA LEADING REBOUNDER: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 6.0 rpg
GEORGIA TECH PPG: 61.5 ppg
OPP. PPG: 55.7 ppg.
GEORGIA PPG: 57.1 ppg
OPP. PPG: 60.0 ppg.
Georgia Player to Watch: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: The 6-5, 205-pound sophomore two-guard has become the Bulldogs’ unquestioned go-to. Caldwell-Pope has led Georgia in scoring in all seven games this season, and his 17.6 ppg is more than double his nearest teammate. His 22 three-pointers more than double the next Bulldog — he’s hitting .355 from three — and his FTAs and FTMs also more than double the next teammate. He’s also tough on the boards, ranking first or second in every game this year in rebounding and he is durable, playing a team-high 32.3 mpg. He’ll be looking to avenge last season’s game against Tech, when he managed only 10 points on 3-for-12 shooting (2-for-9 from three).