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Tech Faces Maryland in ACC Tournament

March 7, 2006

ATLANTA –

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Georgia Tech has drawn the 11th seed for this week’s Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament in Greensboro, N.C., and the Yellow Jackets will meet sixth-seeded Maryland at 9:30 p.m. (approximate time) Thursday night in the tournament’s first round at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Thursday night’s game will be regionally televised over the ACC’s Raycom/JP Sports Network, airing in Atlanta on WATL-TV (WB36). The Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network produces the radio coverage, which can be heard in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790) and WREK-FM (91.1), and nationally on XM Satellite Radio (channel TBA).

If the Yellow Jackets get by the Terrapins, which swept the regular-season series, then they would meet third-seed Boston College at 9:30 p.m. (approximate) in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Tech (11-16 overall, 4-12 ACC this season), which lost 95-82 at Clemson Saturday in its regular season finale, won its first two ACC games this season, then dropped 12 of 14 to finish in 11th place. The Yellow Jackets’ ACC victories this season included Virginia (in December), Boston College, NC State and Wake Forest, all at home.

Maryland (18-11 overall, 8-8 ACC) lost seven of its final 11 ACC games, but secured the sixth seed by winning its last two, 65-61 over Miami and 71-70 over Virginia. The Terrapins defeated Tech, 86-74, on Jan. 25 in Atlanta, and won an 87-84 overtime decision against the Yellow Jackets on Feb. 18 in College Park.

Tech and Maryland have split six previous games in the ACC Tournament. The last meeting occurred in the 1998 first round in Greensboro, an 83-65 Terrapin victory. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Terps, 84-79, in the 1996 semifinals, also in Greensboro.

Boston College (24-6 overall, 11-5 ACC) captured the third seed after overcoming an 0-3 start in conference play, and won its last three regular season games against NC State (74-72, 2 ot), Wake Forest (80-65) and Virginia Tech (59-57).

Tech in the ACC Tournament

Georgia Tech is playing in its 27th ACC Tournament, and has a 19-23 all-time record in the event. The Yellow Jackets have won three championships, in 1985, 1990 and 1993. Tech has been a runner-up three other times (1986, 1996, 2005).

Tech has a 4-5 record in the tournament with Paul Hewitt as its head coach, including a runner-up finish last year in Washington, D.C. The Yellow Jackets have won at least one tournament game in three of five years under Hewitt, including first-round victories over Virginia (2001) and North Carolina (2004), plus wins over Virginia Tech and North Carolina last year to reach the finals.

Tech has an all-time mark of 5-11 in ACC Tournament games played in Greensboro, 1-2 under Hewitt. The Yellow Jackets made the semifinals in 2004, defeating North Carolina in the quarterfinals on a last-second basket by Jarrett Jack.

This is only the third time Tech has played on Thursday in the tournament. The Yellow Jackets lost “play-in” games to NC State in 1997 and Florida State in 2000.

Quick Look at Tech

Tech continues to benefit from the emergence over the past month of sophomore center Ra’Sean Dickey, who has averaged 16.2 points and shot 61.8 percent from the floor over his last 12 games.

The 6-9 native of Clio, S.C., is averaging 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds for the season, ranking second in the ACC in field goal percentage (59.8 pct.). In conference games, he has made 60.4 percent, which leads the ACC.

Dickey’s improvement has helped Anthony Morrow, the ACC’s second-leading three-point shooter (42.9 pct.) and the only Tech player to start every game this season, get more good looks from the outside. A 6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C., Morrow ranks 13th in the ACC in scoring at 16.0 points. One of four Tech players averaging in double figures, Morrow has averaged 15.0 points and shoots 42.2 percent from three-point range in ACC games.

Mario West, a 6-4 junior from Douglasville, Ga., Tech’s best on-the-ball defender, has started Tech’s last seven games. West, who shares point guard time with sophomore Zam Fredrick, has averaged 4.7 points and shot 57.0 percent from the floor over his last seven games, and averages 5.2 points and 2.7 assists for the season.

Also in the starting five are Lewis Clinch, a 6-3 freshman from Cordele, Ga., who made his first college start at FSU, and Jeremis Smith, a 6-6 sophomore from Fort Worth, Texas. Clinch, the ACC’s third-leading freshman scorer (9.1 ppg) gives Tech an additional outside shooting threat (50.9 pct. from three-point range in ACC games). Smith is the ACC’s No. 4 rebounder at 8.4 per game, averages 11.1 points on 49.3-percent field goal shooting.

Off the bench, Zam Fredrick, a 6-0 sophomore from St. Matthews, S.C., has given Tech a big lift offensively in the last seven games, averaging 15.6 points while shooting 53.2 percent from the floor (11-of-23 on threes). Fredrick averages 10.8 points a game for the season and has shot 37.3 percent from three-point range in ACC games. D’Andre Bell, a 6-5 wingman from Los Angeles, Calif., averages 3.9 points and 2.0 rebounds.

In the post, Tech has Theodis Tarver, a 6-9 senior from Monroe, La., who has started 13 games this season, has shot 51.7 percent from the floor and blocked 34 shots while averaging 3.2 points and 3.0 rebounds.

Paco Diaw, a 6-6 freshman from Dakar, Senegal, is Tech’s other perimeter reserve (1.1 ppg, 1.2 apg), while freshman Alade Aminu, a 6-9 post reserve from Stone Mountain, Ga., has averaged 2.3 points and 1.6 rebounds in limited action.

Comments from head coach Paul Hewitt

“We played pretty good basketball for about 35 minutes the other day up at Clemson, but they’re defensive pressure and intensity wore us down. Things kind of came apart for us, but we’re still getting some improvement from Ra’Sean Dickey, who is shooting about 70 percent from the floor over the last 10 games, and from Lewis Clinch, who had another big game for us Saturday. We still have some major issues with taking care of the basketball, but I’ve been pleased to see improvement in some of our players..

[On the ACC taking a back seat to the Big East and Big Ten] – “The ACC always is one of the best leagues, if not the best league, in the country year in and year out. You have to give those teams like Connecticut and Villanova credit. They’ve had good years. That’s not to say the national champion can’t come out of the ACC.”

[On a scenario where Tech might make the NIT] – “This is the first time in my career where I haven’t really sat down and pored over possibilities. We’re just worried about Maryland right now, and that’s just the way it is this year. It’s been so hard for us to put together consistent stretches over games, so I’m just worried about one game right now. I really didn’t even know who we were going to play until last night when one of my assistants called, because I was just watching the Clemson game and trying to figure out how we can play better.”

[Is Maryland a good matchup?] – “We had an opportunity to win the game with them up there. Obviously, they outplayed us here earlier in the year. I don’t think our guys are worried about who they are playing. They realize they have talent to match up with most everybody in our league, but it’s a matter of finishing off games strong.”

[On Duke’s recent success in the ACC Tournament] – “It’s impressive. When we played them twice my first year in the league, I knew. They have to prepare for the best punch everybody has to offer, every game. That those guys don’t get worn down by it year after year is a credit to their coaching staff and the young men who put on that uniform.”

[On your experience playing your first ACC Tournament] – “It was in Atlanta that year (2001), and I remember pulling up to the Georgia Dome, and I looked around, and it was like a Final Four. You walked into the building, and there were 45,000 people in the Georgia Dome. The ACC Tournament completely takes over whatever town it is in that year, from the events outside the arena to the games.”

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