Dec. 3, 2002
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech, off to a 3-0 start including a victory over 17th-ranked Georgia last week, meets its second ranked team of the young season Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET at 17th-ranked Minnesota in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
The game will be nationally televised on ESPN, with the radio broadcast on the Georgia Tech-ISP Network (in Atlanta on WQXI-AM 790, WMGP-FM 98.1, WSNY-FM 100.1, WLKQ-FM 102.3).
The Yellow Jackets are looking for their first 4-0 start since the 1997-98 season, and to even their record in ACC-Big Ten Challenge games. Tech defeated Wisconsin last year at home, 62-61, following losses to Michigan in 1999 and Iowa in 2000.
The ACC-Big Ten Challenge began Monday night when Florida State defeated Iowa, 80-67 in Tallahassee. It continues Tuesday with four games: Ohio State vs. Duke in Greensboro, N.C.; Penn State at Clemson, Maryland vs. Indiana in Indianapolis, Ind., and North Carolina at Illinois. Wednesday’s games include Northwestern at NC State, Virginia at Michigan State and Wake Forest at Wisconsin.
“It’s going to be a great test,” said Tech head coach Paul Hewitt. “That environment is going to be hostile to begin with. Then you have that court, which is elevated. It’s one of the things we want to get used to when we go up there to practice (Tuesday). We’re going to go up there and get used to the court. Tack on to that the fact that they have a very good basketball team that runs its halfcourt offense extremely well. They screen well, and they shoot well.”
Tech and Minnesota have met just twice, most recently on Mar. 25, 1990 when the Yellow Jackets defeated the Golden Gophers, 93-91, in the finals of the NCAA Southeast Regional in New Orleans, La. The first meeting occurred in December of 1978, when Minnesota edged Tech, 57-56, in the finals of the Pillsbury Classic at the Met Center in Minneapolis.
Freshman Chris Bosh, a 6-10 forward/center from Lancaster, Texas, has led the Yellow Jackets in the early going. Bosh, named ACC Rookie of the Week Monday, leads Tech in scoring (19.3), rebounding (12.0) and field goal percentage (55.9), and has recorded a double-double in each game. His rebound average leads the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Bosh also ranks third in the league in scoring and 10th in field goal percentage.
Tech has also received excellent play from its other freshman starter, 6-3 point guard Jarrett Jack of Fort Washington, Md., who has averaged 11.7 points and a team-best 7.3 assists (fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference), while hitting 55.6 percent of his field goal tries.
The rest of the Yellow Jackets’ starting lineup for the first three games has included 6-4 junior guard Marvin Lewis (Germantown, Md.), who has averaged 13.7 points and has shot 38.5 percent from three-point range; 6-6 sophomore forward Isma’il Muhammad (Atlanta, Ga.), who averages 10.7 points and 7.7 rebounds; and 6-8 sophomore forward Ed Nelson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), who averages 7.0 points and 7.3 rebounds.
Off the bench, Tech has gotten excellent work from 6-4 sophomore guard B.J. Elder (Madison, Ga.), who missed the Yellow Jackets’ season opener on Nov. 23 with a sore foot but has averaged 18.0 points and 3.5 assists in the two games since. In the frontcourt, 7-1 sophomore center Luke Schenscher (Hope Forest, South Australia) has averaged 8.3 points and 5.3 rebounds and shot 54.5 percent from the floor as the Yellow Jackets’ primary post reserve.
“We’re pretty good defensively,” said Hewitt, assessing his team after three games. “We worked very hard in the pre-season. Now we’re playing against a team with very good outside shooters, and two of them have great size. We’ll have to be alert. We need to maintain that intensity and focus on defense.
“Offensively, we need to do a better job of running our offense and take better shots. We’ve forced some shots, and we need to be more trusting of each other. We’re an unselfish group by nature, but we need to move the ball a little bit better to open up our players.”
The Golden Gophers have been led by 6-11 sophomore forward Rick Rickert, who has averaged 19.0 points and 5.0 rebounds while also hitting 7-of-11 three-point attempts. Also on the Minnesota lineup are 6-3 senior guard Kevin Burleson (8.0 ppg), 6-3 junior guard Ben Johnson (7.5) and 6-10 senior center Jerry Holman (7.0). Maurice Hargrow (18.0), a 6-4 sophomore guard, and Michael Bauer (15.0), a 6-8 junior forward, have each started a game for the Gophers.
“Rick Rickert is an outstanding player. Michael Bauer, right now, is as good an all-around player as we’re going to see,” said Hewitt. “Rickert is a tremendous offensive talent. He can shoot it. He can pass it. He scores in the low post. He scores from behind the three-point line. Bauer seems to be doing little bit of everything for their team, offensively and defensively.”
The Minnesota game kicks off a rugged December and holiday season which will include games away from home with Marist (Saturday), Tennessee (Dec. 15), Syracuse (Dec. 21), Maryland (Dec. 29) and Tulane (Jan. 2). The Yellow Jackets have only one home game (Troy State on Dec. 17) between now and Jan. 8.