March 5, 2008
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech plays its final regular-season home game Thursday night at 7 p.m. in a nationally-televised (ESPN2) contest against 24th-ranked Clemson at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. It will be the final home game for three Tech senior players — Matt Causey, Anthony Morrow and Jeremis Smith. The Yellow Jackets finish their regular season Saturday at Boston College.
Radio coverage of the game is provided on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790), WREK-FM (91.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1), and nationally on XM Satellite Radio Channel 190.
Tech, 12-16 for the season and 5-9 in the ACC (ninth place), lost at home, 76-74, Monday night to Virginia for its sixth loss in seven games. Clemson captured an 82-67 victory over the Jackets on Feb. 14 at Littlejohn Coliseum. By beating the Tigers, the Yellow Jackets can move into a three-way tie for seventh with Wake Forest and Florida State, who both lost Tuesday night.
The Tigers, 21-7 overall, hold third place in the ACC standings at 9-5 after a 73-70 win Sunday at Maryland in which Clemson rallied from a 20-point deficit in the second half. The Tigers have won six of their last eight games.
Monday’s loss to Virginia dropped the Yellow Jackets to 5-7 this year at home and assures Tech its first losing mark here in 27 years unless it hosts any NIT games. Tech has had two other losing seasons at home since Alexander Memorial Coliseum was built, in 1973-74 (4-10) and 1980-81 (4-11).
Tech has played a strong schedule, posting a schedule strength rank of No. 5 according to this week’s RPI rankings. The teams Tech lost to have a combined record of 309-125 (through Tuesday’s games), including losses to six top-25 teams who have a combined mark of 171-32. Tech is 5-12 vs. teams in the top 100 of the RPI.
Three Georgia Tech players and two managers will be participating in the final home game of their careers Thursday night. They have helped the Yellow Jackets to 63 wins and a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances over the past three-plus seasons.
Matt Causey, a transfer from North Georgia College who sat out last season, has made an important impact on this year’s Yellow Jacket team with his all-out hustle and aggressive play. The Gainesville, Ga., native is Tech’s second-leading scorer in ACC games (10.7 ppg) and has ranked in the ACC’s top 10 in assists and assist-turnover ratio all season.
Anthony Morrow, who will play his final ACC Tournament in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C., next week, has developed into more than just the catch-and-shoot player he was as a freshman. He has climbed to 21st on Georgia Tech’s all-time scoring chart and No. 4 in three-point field goals made, and is on the verge of setting a Tech record for career free throw percentage.
Jeremis Smith, a heralded prep star from Fort Worth, Texas, found his niche on the Tech team by becoming a tenacious defender and rebounder. He has led the Jackets in rebounds three straight years and is Tech’s second-leading scorer this season while climbing to No. 15 in career rebounds for the Jackets.
Also participating in their final home games Thursday night are team managers Drew Hamilton of Tampa, Fla., and Chris McClune of Roswell, Ga. Hamilton has followed in the footsteps of his father, Hoyt, who was a manager on Tech teams from 1976-80.
Series vs. Clemson
> Overall, Tech holds a 56-54 lead in a series that began in 1913. It is the oldest and longest-running series the Yellow Jackets have with an ACC member. The 110 all-time meetings are 28 more than Tech has played with any other ACC member.
> Clemson has won four of the last five meetings in the series, and the Yellow Jackets trail 31-28 to the Tigers since joining the ACC.
> Tech and Clemson have split their season series 15 times in the last 20 years. The Jackets swept the season series from the Tigers three times in six seasons under Paul Hewitt.
> The Yellow Jackets have won nine of the 15 games between the two teams since Paul Hewitt became Tech’s head coach, with a 5-2 record at home and a 4-4 mark at Clemson. Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell is 4-5 vs. Tech.
> Tech has an all-time record of 39-18 against the Tigers at home, including 25-13 record at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Jackets have won 19 of 25 against the Tigers at home since 1983.
Quick Look at Tech
Georgia Tech’s starting lineup for the last 14 games (beginning Jan. 12 at Miami) has included freshman Moe Miller at point guard and junior D’Andre Bell at one wing. Seniors Anthony Morrow (wing) and Jeremis Smith (big forward) have started all 28 games for the Yellow Jackets, while freshman Gani Lawal has started the last 21 games at center.
The Yellow Jackets, whose regular rotation at the moment includes 10 players, are 5-9 with this starting lineup.
Miller, who replaced Matt Causey in the lineup, had started Tech’s first two games of the season before injuring his back in the Virgin Islands. Both players see significant minutes at the point, combining to average 19.0 points and 6.9 assists in ACC games. Causey, who did not play the last two games due to a mild concussion sustained Feb. 27 at Duke, is expected to play against Clemson.
Despite playing only 18 minutes a game, the 6-0 Causey ranks eighth in the ACC in assists and ninth in assist-turnover ratio. Tech’s top scorer for six of the last 14 games, Causey has averaged 10.8 points and 3.4 assists since moving to the bench. Miller, a 6-1 rookie from Memphis, Tenn., has averaged 15.5 points over his last four games, including 29 points and five assists Feb. 23 at Virginia Tech.
Morrow, a 6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C., who is the Yellow Jackets’ top returning scorer from 2006-07, currently ranks 14th in the ACC with 14.3 points a game, 13.6 vs. the ACC. One of Tech’s best all-time three-point shooters with 244 for his career, Morrow has hit 42.1 percent from that distance this season.
Bell, a 6-5 junior, provides good physical defense on the perimeter and can score when needed (three double-figure games in ACC play). He averages 6.4 points for the season, 7.5 vs. the ACC, and has shot 45.9 percent from the floor. Bell started four games at point guard in Miller’s absence and moved primarily to the wing as Miller and Causey developed into a solid tandem.
Smith, the team captain and a 6-8 forward from Fort Worth, Texas, is Tech’s second-leading scorer at 9.9 points per game and its leading rebounder at 7.0 per game (10th in the ACC). Smith has averaged 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in ACC games, and has reached double figures in points in five of the last seven games.
Lawal, a 6-8 rookie from Riverdale, Ga., averages 7.1 points and 3.8 rebounds while leading the Jackets in field goal percentage at 58.2.
Backcourt reserves — Clinch, a 6-3 guard from Cordele, Ga., has reached double-digits in scoring in 14 games this year, and is Tech’s third-leading scorer with 9.4 points per game, but has struggled in ACC games (5.9 ppg, 33.3 pct. FG). Six-foot-4 freshman Lance Storrs of Decatur, Ga., averaging 1.2 points per game, has seen more significant playing time off the bench since late January as an additional perimeter defender.
Frontcourt reserves — Hewitt can go to 6-8 sophomore Zack Peacock of Miami, Fla., and 6-10 junior Alade Aminu of Stone Mountain, Ga. Peacock is Tech’s fourth-leading scorer (9.2) and rebounder (4.0) and is coming off a 23-point, 7-rebound game against Virginia. Aminu, who started Tech’s first seven games of the season, has averaged 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds while hitting 54.3 percent of his shots from the floor. Tech also has 6-11 red-shirt freshman Brad Sheehan of Latham, N.Y., who has played sparingly in ACC games.