March 7, 2012
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ATLANTA – Having finished its regular season with a pair of wins in the final three games, Georgia Tech opens its first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament under head coach Brian Gregory as the 11th seed facing No. 6 Miami at 9 p.m. Thursday night.
The 59th annual ACC Tournament is being played Thursday through Sunday at Philips Arena, where the Yellow Jackets have played 10 of their home games this season, including all eight of their ACC games (3-5 record).
It is the sixth time the ACC Tournament has been held in Atlanta (1983, 1985, 1989 at the Omni; 2001, 2009 at the Georgia Dome). Tech is 6-4 in ACC Tournament games held in Atlanta, 4-2 at the Omni, 2-2 at the Georgia Dome. The Jackets won the 1985 tournament at the Omni, the first ACC title for the Institute in any sport.
The second meeting between the Tech and Miami this season can be seen on the ACC Network (WATL-TV in Atlanta), and across the country on ESPNU. The game can be heard in Atlanta on flagship station 790 the Zone (790 AM) and True Oldies 106.7 FM, as well as on satellite radio (Sirius Ch. 85, XM Ch. 85).
In its first year under Gregory, Tech (11-19, 4-12 ACC) is coming off a 69-62 win over Wake Forest in its final regular season game Saturday. The Yellow Jackets went 3-5 in the second half of the ACC schedule, including wins over Maryland and Wake in the last eight days. Tech also had 74-73, overtime loss at Virginia Tech.
Tech is 3-7 at Philips Arena this season (7-10 all-time), but won the last two. Philips Arena has been one of two temporary home facilities for Tech while its new on-campus home, the McCamish Pavilion, is being built on the site of the old Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Miami (18-11, 9-7 ACC) finished in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference standings with Virginia and NC State in its first year under head coach Jim Larranaga, but lost out in the tiebreaker. The Hurricanes won five conference games in a row at one point this season and captured three of their final five.
Miami defeated Tech, 64-49, in the team’s only regular season meeting on Jan. 24 at Philips Arena. The winner of this game will advance to a 9 p.m. quarterfinal game Friday night against 3rd-seeded Florida State (21-9, 12-4 ACC).
Tech is 24-29 all-time in 32 previous ACC Tournaments, and is 3-5 in opening round games on Thursday.
Georgia Tech’s primary goals this season have been to play solid team defense, win the rebounding battle, and be efficient on offense. The Yellow Jackets have a +3.8 edge in rebounding for the season and has won that battle in 18 of 30 games.
The Yellow Jackets rank 4th in the ACC (47th nationally) in field goal percentage defense (40.6 pct.) and 5th in scoring defense (68th nationally, 62.9 ppg). Tech has held 14 opponents under 40 percent from the field, and have held 12 teams under 60 points.
Tech has given up 61.0 points per game this year, which, if the season ended today, would be the program’s fourth-lowest yield going back to the 1955-56 season, the first year statistics are available. Only one other Tech team (1984-85, 59.4 ppg) has given up fewer points per game vs. the ACC than has this year’s team (65.5).
Tech has shared the ball much better since the beginning of of February, assisting on 58.2 percent of its baskets (last 3 games = 62.0%), compared to 49.0 percent for the entire ACC schedule and 48.6 percent for the entire season.
Tech has found the going difficult on the offensive end throughout the conference schedule with a few exceptions. The Yellow Jackets shot a season-high 58.3 percent in an overtime loss at Virginia Tech on F18, shot 49.1 percent against Duke on J7, 51 percent at NC State on J11, and 45.6 percent at North Carolina on J29. Tech averaged 77.5 points in those games.
Altogether, Tech has managed to score just 58.6 points against the conference this year, which is an all-time low for Tech in the shot clock era, and has converted just 41 percent of its field goals. Tech has been held under 40 points in a game twice, and under 60 nine times.
Conversely, Tech has managed to put together some excellent second halves of offense in ACC games. The Jackets have shot 46 percent or better from the floor in the second half of 10 conference games, including a 52.6 effort F25 in their win over Maryland.
Tech’s offensive numbers in road games this year (62.9 ppg, 44.0% FG, 37.6% on 3s, 66.5% FT) are far better than those for the Jackets in Philips Arena.
Whom to Watch
6-8 sophomore Kammeon Holsey has scored in double figures in six of his last eight games, leading Tech in scoring in four of those. He has averaged 12.5 points on 55.9% shooting (38-for-68) and has gone 24-for-35 (68.6%) from the foul line over that stretch.
Holsey, who recorded his first career double-double against Maryland (16 pts, 10 reb) on F25, leads Tech in field goal percentage in all games (59.5%) and is second in ACC games (51.8%).
6-11 sophomore center Daniel Miller has scored in double figures in eight of his last nine games, averaging 10.1 points and 7.0 rebounds. Miller has hit 41-of-68 (60.3%) shots from the floor, 8-for-10 from the foul line. He has 20 blocked shots, 9 assists and 9 steals.
Holsey (11.4 ppg) and Miller (10.1) rank 1 and 2 for Tech in scoring since Feb. 1 and are a combined 57.6% from the floor and 70.8% from the foul line.
6-2 point guard Mfon Udofia had a career-high 9 assists with just 3 turnovers against Maryland and played good defense on the the ACC’s leading scorer, Terrell Stoglin (18 pts on 5-17 shooting). He had 5 assists and 1 turnover to go with 15 points Saturday against Wake Forest.
Udofia has 38 assists and 18 turnovers in his last 8 games.
Udofia and backup point guard Pierre Jordan have just 20 turnovers between them in the last 8 games.
6-10 sophomore center Nate Hicks was sidelined recovering from mononucleosis since F8 (missed 6 games). He returned to practice Monday and dressed for the Boston College game but did not play. He played 3 minutes Saturday against Wake Forest.
6-5 junior forward Glen Rice, Jr., was suspended indefinitely on F17 and has not played the last 5 games.
6-3 senior Nick Foreman, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship this year, has played 83 minutes in Tech’s last five games to fill the void left by the absences of Glen Rice, Jr., and Nate Hicks. He has made 5 3s in each of Tech’s last 3 games, averaging 5.7 ppg.
Tech’s ACC Tournament History
Georgia Tech has played in 32 ACC Tournaments, and has a 24-29 all-time record in the event. The Yellow Jackets have won three championships, in 1985 (Atlanta), 1990 (Charlotte) and 1993 (Charlotte).
Tech has been a runner-up four times (1986, 1996, 2005, 2010). The 1986, 1996 and 2010 runs to the finals occurred in Greensboro.
Tech is 6-4 in ACC Tournament games played in Atlanta, going 4-2 in three tournaments at the Omni, including the 1985 title, and 2-2 in two tournaments at the Georgia Dome.
Tech was 0-2 in the ACC Tournament under coach Dwane Morrison, 15-16 under Bobby Cremins (including all three titles) and 9-11 record under Paul Hewitt (including runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2010).
Tech has been the No. 11 seed twice before (2006, 2011) and has failed to win either time. The Jackets are 3-5 when opening the tournament on Thursday.
Last Time We Met
Kenny Kadji scored 21 points, Malcolm Grant had 16 and Miami beat Georgia Tech 64-49 at Philips Arena on Jan. 24.
Mfon Udofia had 14 points for Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech trailed 49-39 after a free throw by Glen Rice Jr. with 7:12 remaining. Back-to-back baskets by Kammeon Holsey cut Miami’s lead to 54-45 with 4:26 remaining, but the Hurricanes answered with six straight points to push the lead to 15 points.
Kadji, who had 14 points in the second half, led Miami with eight rebounds.
Grant had three 3-pointers in the first half. Freshman Shane Larkin’s 3 gave Miami its big lead of the half at 31-17.
Rice had 13 points and nine rebounds. Julian Royal had 11.
After winning the first two meetings with Miami after the Hurricanes became members of the ACC, Tech has dropped six of the last eight. Miami won the only regular-season meeting between the two teams in 2011-12, a 64-49 win at Philips Arena.
Miami was the opponent for Tech in its last game at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, a game the Yellow Jackets won 66-57 to close out the 2010-11 regular season. Tech won four of six games against the Hurricanes in the building.
Seven of the last eight meetings have all been decided by 10 points or less.
The last meeting between the two schools prior to Miami’s joining the ACC occurred in December of 1997 as part of the Orange Bowl Classic doubleheader at Miami Arena, the Hurricanes’ home court until the team moved into the on-campus Convocation Center last year. The Yellow Jackets, led that year by senior forward Matt Harpring, won that game, 69-61.
Tech played Miami twice under former head coach Whack Hyder, losing the first-ever meeting in the series by 22 points in 1953, then taking a six-point homecourt victory in 1967. That was the only pre-ACC visit by the Hurricanes to Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and the 90-84 Tech win has been the highest scoring game in the brief series.