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Tech Closes Regular Season with Trip to FSU

March 1, 2002

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech takes a four-game winning streak into its final regular season game at 12 noon Saturday at Florida State with a chance to finish in fifth place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Saturday’s game will be televised on the ACC regional network of Fox Sports Net South, the Sunshine Network and Comcast Sports Net. Local radio coverage is on WQXI-AM (790) and WMAX-FM (98.1).

The Yellow Jackets (14-15, 6-9 ACC) solidified its hold on sixth place in the ACC Wednesday after defeating Wake Forest, 90-77, for their seventh win in nine games dating back to Jan. 30. The last two victories have come against ranked teams in No. 22 Virginia on the road and the No. 24 Demon Deacons.

“We just want to finish strong,” said Hewitt. “We were in a very similar situation last year when we went to Tallahassee, having a chance to solidify a certain seed and giving ourselves more hope for the post-season. Florida State beat us, and beat us pretty soundly. So that’s our priority, to make sure we play a better game than we did last year. The Seminoles (11-15, 4-11 ACC) have lost eight of their last nine – the lone win a 66-59 decision over Virginia on Feb. 20 – including a 96-63 defeat Wednesday night at No. 2 Maryland. “They’re going to be well prepared and more emotional than they were the last time,” added Hewitt. “It’s their senior day with Delvon Arrington and Monte Cummings. We’re going to have to play well, we can’t count on shooting the ball the way we did the last two games. All-ACC candidate Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.), who has played brilliantly the last four games, averaging 22.3 points, leads the Jackets. Tech’s point guard who ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring (16.5), fifth in assists (5.6), second in three-point percentage (.402) and first in three-point field goals per game (3.03). Off-guard Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.) is Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures for the season with 11.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He actually leads Tech in three-point percentage (41.1) and would rank third in the ACC in free throw accuracy (87.5), but he does not have enough attempts to qualify for league rankings.

Tech’s starting lineup for the last 11 games has included 6-5 sophomore forward Clarence Moore (Norco, La.), along with a pair of ACC Rookie of the Year hopefuls in 6-3 guard B.J. Elder (Madison, Ga.), this week’s ACC Rookie of the Week, and 6-7 center Ed Nelson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), last week’s ACC Rookie honoree.

Moore averages 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds, shooting 45.9 percent from three-point range and 46.4 percent overall vs. the ACC. Nelson has played very well of late, averaging 8.2 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds. He tops ACC freshmen in rebounding (6.8), and averages 10.0 points and shoots 51.9 percent vs. the ACC. Elder, whose 25 points Wednesday against Wake Forest was a season high for a freshman in the ACC, averages 9.9 points overall and 10.9 against the league.

Tech goes five deep on the bench, which provides about 30 percent of the Jackets’ scoring: 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), who averages 6.8 points, 6-5 sophomore wingman Halston Lane (Oak Ridge, Tenn.), 6.3 points per game, 6-8 sophomore center Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.), 3.5 points and 4.5 rebounds, and 6-5 guard Anthony McHenry (Fr., Birmingham, Ala.), 2.0 ppg. Seven-foot freshman center Luke Schenscher (Hope Forest, South Australia), who scored a career-high 14 points on 7-for-7 shooting against Wake Forest, averages 4.8 points and 3.1 rebounds.

Tech Series vs. Florida State

oGeorgia Tech has won 10 of the last 16 meetings in its series with Florida State, but the Seminoles still hold a 26-20 lead in the all-time series which dates back to 1963. oAfter an 0-7 start in the ACC this season, Tech began its current streak of seven wins in nine games with a 77-46 home-court win over FSU on Jan. 30 in the team’s first meeting this year. It was the largest margin of victory against an ACC opponent.

oThe teams have split the regular-season series each of the past five years, with each team going 3-2 on its home court during that stretch. In that span, FSU also won the schools’ only ACC Tournament meeting in 2000.

oFSU has won the last two meetings at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. Last year in Tallahassee, the Jackets shot a regular-season-low 25.4 percent in a 69-59 loss, and the Seminoles took a 64-54 win on Feb. 21, 2000. Tech’s last win on FSU’s home court was a 111-108 double-overtime win on Feb. 11, 1999.

oSince FSU joined the ACC, the Seminoles have won 12 of 22 meetings, including the first six in a row. Tech followed by winning five straight, and is 5-6 against the Seminoles since then.

oIn those 22 games, 10 have been decided by four points or less, 13 by 10 points or less.

oTech and Florida State were both members of the old Metro Conference from 1976-78, and the Seminoles won three of those four meetings.

At Stake This Weekend

oBy virtue of Virginia’s win over Duke Thursday night, Tech has clinched the sixth seed for the ACC Tournament next week, win or lose Saturday. The Yellow Jackets (6-9 in the ACC) are two games ahead of Florida State and North Carolina, both of whom are 4-11, with one game to play.

oIf Tech defeats Florida State Saturday and Virginia loses to Maryland Sunday, the teams would tie for fifth place at 7-9, but the Cavaliers would gain the fifth seed in thr tournament because they defeated Duke once, and Tech lost to the Blue Devils both times.

oThe winner of the NC State-Wake Forest game Saturday will earn the No. 3 seed in the tournament and play Georgia Tech Friday at 9 p.m.

oTech is attempting to win its fifth straight game, which would be a first under Paul Hewitt. The Jackets have not won five in a row since games 2-through-6 in the 1998-99 season.

oTech is attempting to win its fifth straight game, which would be a first under Paul Hewitt. The Jackets have not won five in a row since games 2-through-6 in the 1998-99 season.

“As we have won games, the next game becomes that much bigger,” said Hewitt. “Now that we’ve beaten Wake Forest and gotten to within one game of .500, this game becomes a huge game, a very important game for any post-season aspirations we have. So we have to come in and play well, and for us, that means playing good defense and rebounding the ball.”

Last Time Out

Georgia Tech won its fourth straight game and its second straight against a ranked team with a 90-77 victory over No. 24 Wake Forest on Wednesday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

On Senior Night, a freshman stole the show as B.J. Elder scored 25 points, 23 in the second half, to help the Yellow Jackets pull away in the second half. The 6-3 swingman made 7-of-10 field goals (4-of-6 from three-point range) and 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Another freshman, 7-foot center Luke Schenscher, scored a career high 14 points by making all seven of his field goal attempts.

Senior point guard Tony Akins scored 19 with eight assists, three steals and just two turnovers in 35 minutes in his final regular-season home game.

oWith the win, Tech finished its regular-season home schedule with an 8-7 record, avoiding only its fourth losing record in the history of Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

oTech defeated its third ranked team of the season and eighth under head coach Paul Hewitt. Both of Tech’s other wins over ranked teams this season (Syracuse on Dec. 16, Virginia last Saturday) occurred away from Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

oWith the win, Tech has beaten every ACC team this season except Duke and Maryland.

Akins Takin’ the Lead

Tony Akins, who made his 115th career start and played in his final regular-season home game vs. Wake Forest Wednesday night, is closing out an outstanding career in brilliant fashion with his play in the last month.

The 5-11 point guard has turned hot again, averaging 22.3 points in his last four games while hitting 12 of 27 three-point field goals, shooting 50 percent (22-of-44) overall from the floor and 89.7 percent (26-of-29) from the free throw line.

Since Feb. 1, Akins has averaged 18.4 points per game. Similarly, Akins averaged 18.1 points per game from Feb. 1 forward last season as the Jackets made their push toward the NCAA Tournament.

More on Akins:

oAkins has been Tech’s most consistent offensive player all season, scoring in double digits in 26 of 29 games and scoring 20 or more 10 times. He leads the Jackets in scoring at 16.5 points per game (8th in the ACC) while averaging 5.6 assists (5th in the ACC). He ranks second in the the ACC in three-point field goals per game (3.03) and second in three-point percentage (40.2).

oHe is shooting 83.3 percent from the free throw line, which ranks fourth in the ACC. Akins is 45-for-51 (88.2 percent) from the line in his last eight games, including 9-for-9 at Virginia and 10-for-10 against North Carolina on Feb. 2.

oAkins is the only ACC player to rank in the top 10 in scoring and top 5 in assists. In 15 ACC games, Akins has averaged 17.1 points and 5.8 assists per game.

oThe Lilburn, Ga., native is averaging career-bests in most offensive categories, including scoring, assists and shooting. His 5.6 assists per game are a full assist better than his career-best rate of 4.5 as a freshman. He has had three double-digit assist games this year after never posting one his first three seasons.

On the Rebound

When Tony Akins doesn’t score a three, he usually responds in a big way. oAfter missing out against Duke and going 1-for-7 at Maryland, Akins is 12-of-27 in his last four games (22-of-44 overall).

oAfter not hitting one against Virginia on Jan. 22, he responded with 71 points, 23 assists and 14 treys in the next four games.

oAfter missing out from behind the arc against IUPUI, Akins went on a five-game tear in qhich he averaged 19.4 points and hit 20 of 35 three-point attempts (57.1 percent). oLast year after going scoreless against Clemson last season, Akins averaged 18.1 points and hit 46.6 percent of his threes the rest of the season.

oAs a sophomore, Akins went 0-2 with nine points against Virginia. In the final eight games of that season, he hit 45.7 percent of his threes and 13.5 points, including a 33-point performance against Florida State in which he sank 9 of 14 three-point attempts.

Akins’ Career Numbers

oTony Akins surpassed 1,600 points Wednesday night against Wake Forest. He has 1,608 career points, jumping to 12th place in Tech history after beginning the year in 28th. Roger Kaiser, a consensus all-America in 1961, is in 11th place with 1,628 points.

oTony Akins has moved fourth place on the all-time Tech list for assists with 546. Third place is held by Craig “Noodles” Neal (1984-88) with 659.

oAkins also ranks seventh in career steals with 166, and needs 3 to pass Kenny Anderson (168, 1990-91) for sixth place.

oWith his 115th start against NC State, Akins holds 10th place in career starts at Tech. Unless Tech advances in the ACC Tournament, he will remain 10th, because Alvin Jones is in ninth place with 118 starts.

oAkins ranks 12th at Tech in career minutes played (3,892). Alvin Jones played 3,880 minutes for 11th place.

oAkins 4.4-assist average ranks 7th in Tech history.

Like an Elder

Freshman B.J. Elder has turned red-hot in Georgia Tech’s last two games, scoring 18 points at Virginia and 25 Wednesday night against Wake Forest to help the Yellow Jackets to a pair of victories over ranked teams.

The 6-3 swingman, a candidate for ACC all-Freshman team, has made 12 of 21 field goals, 8-of-14 fron three-point range and 11-of-11 from the free throw line in the two games. He also has recorded six assists and just three turnovers in 53 minutes.

“He just makes us a totally different team,” said Hewitt. “He’s one of the few people we have who can score in a variety of ways. He can post up, score off the dribble and shoot the three. When he has it going like he has the last two games, we can beat ranked teams.”

More on Elder:

oSince Elder joined the starting lineup on Jan. 22 against Virginia, he has averaged 11.1 points and Tech has gone 7-4 in those games. He has made 20-of-43 three-point attempts (46.5 percent) in those games.

oHead coach Paul Hewitt first inserted Elder into the starting lineup for Tech’s Jan. 10 game at Duke, and Elder responded with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting with two assists before fouling out. He has scored in double figures 11 times in Georgia Tech’s last 19 games, including 31 points in 34 minutes of play in Tech wins over North Carolina and Clemson.

oElder played just 16 minutes at Clemson before fouling out, but led all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor (3-of-5 from three-point range) with three assists. Elder has scored more points per minute than any other Tech player (0.47) except Tony Akins.

The Full Nelson

ACC Rookie of the Year candidate Ed Nelson has steadily grown more comfortable as the season has progressed, giving the Yellow Jackets some inside scoring presence and solid defense, almost always against taller players.

Beginning with Tech’s meeting with Duke on Jan. 10, the 6-7 rookie has averaged 10.4 points and 6.9 rebounds in Tech’s last 14 games. He has been consistent on the glass, including a pair of double-digit efforts against North Carolina (11) and NC State (10).

More on Nelson:

oNelson scored 17 points last to lead Tech against Duke, and had 18 (6-9 FG, 6-10 FT) in the first meeting between Tech and Maryland. Against NC State a week ago, he posted his second double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) of the year.

oHe has made 54 of 107 field goal tries (51.0 percent) in the last 14 games and scored in double digits seven times. In his first 15 games, he had just three double-digit scoring games. He has also gotten to the free throw line for 56 attempts, making 37 for 66.1 percent, a vast improvement over his first 15 games (46.5 percent).

oNelson is 15 of 20 from the free throw line in his last six games, including 4-for-4 Wednesday night vs. Wake Forest.

Tech Rookies Getting Noticed

With B.J. Elder’s selection as ACC Rookie of the Week this week, three of Tech’s five freshmen have earned the honor this season. He joins Ed Nelson (Feb. 11) and Luke Schenscher (Feb. 4) on the list of ACC Rookies named this season.

Nelson and Elder, in particular, have distinguished themselves enough to contend for ACC all-Freshman team, with Nelson a leading contender for Rookie of the Year honors.

The 6-3 Elder is the ACC’s leading scorer among freshmen (9.9, tied for 26th overall) and is tied for third in steals. In ACC games, the Madison, Ga., native averages 10.9 points and is shooting 41.1 percent from three-point range and 86.4 percent from the free throw line.

The 6-7 Nelson, who has started 26 of Tech’s 29 games, tops ACC freshmen in rebound average (6.8) in all games and ranks 10th overall, and also ranks fourth among the ACC’s rookies in scoring average (8.2). In ACC games only, Nelson averages 10.0 points and 6.8 rebounds and is shooting 51.9 percent from the floor.

What Goes Around …

There is no better measure of the improvement Georgia Tech has undergone since December than in six return engagements against Saint Louis, North Carolina, Clemson, NC State, Virginia and Wake Forest.

Those teams all defeated the Yellow Jackets the first time the teams met, but Tech turned the tables and squared the season series against each by an average of 12.8 points. In each case, Tech used a different starting lineup in the second meeting than it did in the first, and 7-foot freshman Luke Schenscher did not play in either of the first meetings (except Virginia, his first game back) but had returned from his injury in the second meeting.

        Here is a statistical comparison:        Result  FG%     Opp. FG%        3FG%    Opp 3FG%        FT      Opp FT  Reb.North Carolina  L, 77-83        .456    .509    .409    .500    6-9     18-33   +5        W, 86-74        .444    .375    .462    .452    18-25   18-22   +2

Clemson L, 76-83 .385 .508 .276 .318 18-22 16-30 -8 W, 74-50 .519 .340 .473 .190 7-9 12-24 +2

Saint Louis L, 54-67 .339 .500 .294 .182 11-16 13-18 +10 W, 60-40 .389 .311 .467 .176 11-17 9-15 +11

NC State L, 71-84 .467 .456 .458 .360 12-19 23-30 -4 W, 65-59 .407 .364 .278 .409 16-20 10-11 +5

Virginia L, 65-69 .382 .474 .263 .182 8-11 13-16 -12 W, 82-80 .553 .439 .600 .273 15-17 16-22 -4

Wake Forest L, 71-84 .435 .475 .364 .389 12-14 24-34 -6 W, 90-77 .492 .509 .286 .471 22-26 15-16 +13

Tech Trends and Anomalies

oTech has won seven of its last nine games, with six of the wins coming against teams that had defeated the Jackets earlier in the season – North Carolina, Clemson, Saint Louis, NC State, Virginia and Wake Forest (see statistical comparison above). Tech’s only losses during this stretch were to No. 1 Duke and No. 3 Maryland.

oIn the seven wins, Tech has allowed an average of 60.9 points and 36.8 (147-379) percent shooting from the floor. Tech has permitted just 54 field goal attempts per game in those wins.

oTech has defeated three ranked teams this season, two of them in the last week. oTech’s last eight opponents have shot a combined 32.5 percent from three-point range (62-of-191). Duke and North Carolina combined to make 27 of 55 attempts (49.1) percent, the other five shot 25.7 percent.

oTech has averaged 86 points in its last two games after scoring just 63.2 per game over the previous four. The Jackets have shot 51.9 percent in the two games combined.

Lineup Shift Pays Off

Since freshman B.J. Elder joined Tony Akins, Marvin Lewis, Clarence Moore and Ed Nelson in the starting lineup Jan. 22, Georgia Tech has gone 7-4.

Not coincidentally, 7-foot freshman Luke Schenscher returned from injury at the same time and has made a difference defensively in those games, especially on the defensive end. With the present lineup, opponents have shot 42.8 percent (263-615) overall, 32.3 percent (71-220) from three-point range.

Facing a roster with five new scholarship players, head coach Paul Hewitt has used six different starting lineups this season, tinkering to find that right combination or match up better against its opponent. Akins and Lewis are the only players to have started every game this season.

Nine different players have started games this season, and seven have started an ACC game. Despite who starts the game, however, Hewitt is still using a 10-man rotation with each member averaging 9.6 minutes a game or more.

Practicing “Schenscher-ship”

Luke Schenscher has made a profound impact since returning to action for Georgia Tech against Virginia on Jan. 22. The Jackets went 4-8 in his absence.

The 7-foot freshman has strengthened Tech’s interior defense to the point where he has helped the Jackets allow 42.8 percent shooting in the last 11 games (32.3 percent from three-point range.

Offensively, Schenscher scored a career-high with 14 points against Wake Forest, making all seven of his field goal attempts against the Deacons after going scoreless in his first encounter with them.

More on Schenscher:

oSchenscher has averaged 6.0 points and hit 23 of 39 field goal attempts (59.0 percent) in his last nine games. He earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors Feb. 4 after playing key roles in Tech’s wins over Florida State and North Carolina.

oHe leads Tech in field goal percentage at 57.6 percent (61.5 in ACC games).

oOne of his best all-around games of the season came Feb. 9 against Duke: 9 points with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocked shots and 4 steals. He also had 9 points (4-5 FG) and 5 rebounds against North Carolina on Feb. 2.

oEach of Schenscher’s entries and exits from games at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, as well as his baskets and blocks, are greeted by the home crowd’s chants of “Loooook.”

oSchenscher missed 12 games after discovering a broken third metatarsal bone in his left foot on Nov. 29. In his absence, Tech had no player taller than 6-8 and nine healthy scholarship players and went 4-8. He has grown to 240 pounds since arriving at Tech weighing 214.

Strong at the Line …

Georgia Tech has burned the nets in the last two games from the free throw line, making 37 of 43 attempts (86.0 percent) in defeating Virginia and Wake Forest.

The Jackets were 10-of-10 in the second half against Virginia (15-of-17 for the game) and made its first 15 attempts of the game against Wake Forest before finishing 22-of-26.

In the process, Tech has improved its season mark to 69.6 percent, which ranks fourth in the ACC.

Georgia Tech has five players hitting over 70 percent from the stripe this season, three at 80 percent or better.

Marvin Lewis (87.5 percent) and Tony Akins (83.3 percent) and B.J. Elder (80.0) are Tech’s top shooters from the stripe, but only Akins (4th place) has enough attempts to qualify for the ACC leaders. Halston Lane at (76.5) and Clarence Moore (70.7) also top the 70-percent mark.

“We shoot 50 free throws a day,” said Hewitt. “What we try to do with our free throw shooting regimen is we encourage our players to develop a routine that’s easily repeated and takes out all unnecessary motion. I feel like our regimen works, and it’s helped us become a better free throw shooting team this time of the year. When you’re in a big ball game, you need to make your free throws.”

More on free throws:

oTech has been unable to take full advantage of its improved accuracy, however, having been to the line 105 times fewer than its opponents. That difference is more pronounced in ACC games, 84 fewer times. Only North Carolina and Florida State have been to the line fewer times than Tech this season.

oThe Jackets are 8-2 when attempting more free throws than their opponents this year, 5-13 when they attempt fewer. Only Maryland (1st game), Florida State, North Carolina (2nd game) and NC State (2nd game) attempted fewer free throws than Tech among ACC foes.

Georgia Tech (14-15, 6-9) vs. Florida State (11-15, 4-11)March 2, 2002 o 12 noon ETTallahassee-Leon County Civic Center o Tallahassee, Fla.

TV: Fox Sports Net South/Sunshine/Comcast – Mike Hogewood, pbp, Phil Ford, color Radio: WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1) – Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 14-15, 6-9 ACC (H: 8-7, A: 3-6, N: 3-2) Series vs. Florida State: FSU leads, 26-20 Vs. FSU at Leon Co. CC: FSU leads, 6-4 Vs. FSU since joining ACC: FSU leads, 12-10 Last meeting: Jan. 30, Tech d. FSU, 77-46, in Atlanta Head Coach Paul Hewitt: 97-55 (.638), 5th season overall, 31-28 (.525), 2nd season at Tech Last game: Feb. 27, Tech d. No. 24 Wake Forest, 90-77, in Atlanta Next game: Mar. 8, first round of ACC Tournament, Charlotte, N.C.

Probable Starters F 1 B.J. Elder 6-3 Fr. 9.9 ppg 2.0 rpg F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 9.1 ppg 5.3 rpg C 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 8.2 ppg 6.8 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 16.5 ppg 5.6 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 11.4 ppg 4.1 rpg

Top Reserves C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 3.5 ppg 4.5 rpg F 33 Halston Lane 6-5 So. 6.3 ppg 2.8 rpg F 55 Anthony McHenry 6-6 Fr. 2.0 ppg 1.4 rpg F 2 Isma’il Muhammad 6-5 Fr. 6.8 ppg 3.0 rpg C 12 Luke Schenscher 7-0 Fr. 4.8 ppg 3.1 rpg

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