Dec. 16, 2012
By Jon Cooper
Georgia Tech tries to get back in the swing of things when it takes on Alabama State of the Southwestern Athletic Conference tonight at McCamish Pavilion. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets will try to shake off any rust from eight days off when they take the floor tonight. The Jackets made it three wins in four games and two straight on their home floor, where they are 4-0, on Dec. 8, with a hard-fought 73-66 victory over UNC Wilmington.
Freshman Robert Carter, Jr. scored a career-high 19 points for Tech, which led most of the first half, but trailed by one at the half, then overcame a five-point deficit with 5:20 to play. Carter and fellow freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt, who was hindered by foul trouble, combined to score 11 of the Jackets’ final 16 points, including nine straight in a little less than three minutes to give the Jackets the lead for good.
The Hornets will try to bounce back from an 80-67 loss at Evansville on Friday night. Looking for its first winning streak of the season, ASU got a season-high 22 points from forward Phillip Crawford and 13 from forward Shawntez Patterson, but after scoring the game’s first basket, never led again. They trailed by 46-29 at the half and by as much as 24 in the final 20 minutes. State hurt itself with 22 turnovers.
Tonight’s game will be only the second meeting in the series. The Yellow Jackets easily handled the Hornets in the only other meeting, taking a 74-37 decision at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 19, 2004.
The game can be seen online on Fox Sports South with Bob Rathbun and Daymeon Fishback 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. 113) 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: Georgia Tech did better than leading wire-to-wire, as they led before the opening tip-off and were never challenged in a 74-37 victory over Alabama State on Nov. 19, 2004. Tech was awarded a two-shot technical foul after ASU’s Tyrece Legette dunked during pre-game warm ups. Jarrett Jack, who scored a game-high 20 points, hit the two shots and Tech never trailed thereafter. The Jackets scored the game’s first 13 points, took a 31-16 halftime edge then cruised home, shutting out the Hornets over the game’s final 9:49.
Painting a Nice Picture: The lane has been Georgia Tech’s domain thus far in 2012-13, as the Yellow Jackets have outscored opponents in the paint 222-162, an average of 27.1 ppg to opponents’ 20.3. They have held five opponents to 20-or-fewer points in the paint, including limiting Rice to four points, total. The Jackets, meanwhile, have gone over 20 in all but two games. They have outscored opponents in the paint in six of eight games (they are 4-2). Tech actually is doing okay when they don’t hold that edge as well, as they are 2-0 when they have been outscored in PIP.
Fast-Breaking Bad: The Yellow Jackets have found getting out on the break very much to their liking. They have bested opponents in fast-break points in five of their eight games this season and have been even two other times. Tech is 6-1 in those games. The Jackets also have scored at least 10 fast-break points four times — they are 4-0 — and over their last two games, have held a resounding 35-11 edge on the break. Defending the break has been a strength as well, as the Jackets have held opponents under 10 fast-break points in six straight games and in seven of eight overall.
Turnover A New Leaf: One advantage Georgia Tech has coming into tonight’s game is their ability to create turnovers. The Yellow Jackets are fourth in the ACC in turnover margin at plus-2.1 per game, creating 13.5 turnovers while committing 11.4 turnovers. It’s a dramatic departure from last season, when Tech was last in the ACC at minus-3.26 per game, turning the ball over 14.5 times per game while creating only 11.2. The turnover bug has bitten ASU hard, as the Hornets are ninth in the 10-team SWAC, turning the ball over 17.4 times a game, while taking it away 12.6 times, a minus-4.89.
Do Me A Favors: Freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt won ACC Rookie of the Week last week for the second time this season. He’s the first Yellow Jacket to win the award more than once since Derrick Favors did it four times in 2009-10. Through his first eight games, Georges-Hunt has started seven of Tech’s eight games, and is averaging 11.8 points, fourth among ACC freshmen, and is shooting .471. He’s scored in double figures seven times and scored nine points in the one game he didn’t. He made it 7-of-8 in double-digits against UNCW despite not scoring for the first 50 minutes of the game.
The Sixth Man: Point guard Mfon Udofia’s first point tonight will give him 800 for his career. Georgia Tech is 13-1 all-time against the Southwestern Athletic Conference. In addition to the 1-0 record vs. Alabama State, they are 4-0 against Alabama A&M, 2-0 vs. Alcorn State, 3-0 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 1-0 vs. Grambling State and 2-0 vs. Jackson State. Tech’s only loss to a SWAC team came to Southern in the 1993 NCAA Tournament. The UNC Wilmington game marked the 10th time in the Brian Gregory Era that Georgia Tech has shot at least 50 percent. They are 9-1 in such games. When Georgia Tech closed its last game on a 16-4 run to come from behind and beat UNC Wilmington, it marked the first time in the Brian Gregory era that the Yellow Jackets came from behind to win a game that they trailed at the 5:00 minute mark. The Yellow Jackets had been 0-for-21 in such games.
GEORGIA TECH LEADING SCORER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 11.8 ppg
ALABAMA STATE LEADING SCORER: Josh Freelove, 12.3 ppg
GEORGIA TECH LEADING REBOUNDER: Robert Carter, Jr., 6.0 rpg
ALABAMA STATE LEADING REBOUNDER: Shawntez Patterson, 5.5 rpg
GEORGIA TECH PPG: 63.0 ppg
OPP. PPG: 56.8 ppg.
ALABAMA STATE PPG: 58.1 ppg
OPP. PPG: 76.3 ppg.
Alabama State Player to Watch: Shawntez Patterson. The 6-7, 190-pound redshirt-senior forward has been coming along since making his ASU debut four games ago. He’s scored in double-figures in three of the four games he’s played, averaging 13.0 points on .438 shooting (14-for-32). Patterson is averaging 11.8 points per game, while grabbing a team-high 5.5 rebounds. He’s shown he can score inside and outside as he’s converted a team-high 11 three-pointers (tied with guard Joshua Freelove) and is shooting .423 from behind the arc.