Feb. 12, 2005
Georgia Tech, coming off its first ACC road win of the season, returns home Sunday for a 6 p.m. nationally-televised game against NC State, hoping to avenge a 76-68 loss to the Wolfpack on Jan. 12 in Raleigh.
The game will air across the country on Fox Sports Net’s ACC Sunday Night Hoops program. The Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network provides the radio broadcast that will air in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790) and WREK-FM (91.1), as well nationally on XM Satellite Radio (Ch. 181).
The Yellow Jackets (14-7, 5-5 ACC) defeated Clemson, 70-62, Tuesday night in Clemson, evening its conference record and lifting the Jackets into a fourth-place tie with Maryland, Miami and Virginia Tech, all of whom play Saturday. Tech has won four of five league games at home, and does not play again until Feb. 20 at Florida State.
The Wolfpack (13-10, 3-7 ACC) have lost nine of 12 games since a 10-1 start to their season, including an 85-76 loss at No. 5 Wake Forest Thursday night.
Tech remains the ACC leader in field goal percentage defense (37.7 pct.) and three-point defense (30.2 pct.), and also rates among the top four teams in the league in those categories for ACC games only. The Yellow Jackets also rank second in scoring defense (65.6 ppg) in all games.
Tech continues to struggle offensively, however, scoring no more than 71 points in any of their last eight games except the Wake Forest game (102). The Jackets were far more efficient at Clemson Tuesday night, however, hitting 57.8 percent of their shots from the floor (5-12 from three-point range), the highest mark for Tech in an ACC game under Paul Hewitt, and had 17 assists on their 26 field goals.
The Yellow Jackets welcomed back B.J. Elder (left hamstring strain), who had missed the entire ACC schedule, on Tuesday night, and the senior guard scored 11 points (4-8 FG) in 20 minutes. Freshman forward Jeremis Smith (dislocated kneecap) also returned to the court after a 17-game absence, scoring three points with four rebounds in 15 minutes. Tech dressed its full roster at Clemson for the first time since Nov. 26.
A preseason candidate for the Wooden and Naismith Awards, Elder scored 11 points against the Tigers and is averaging 13.0 points a game. The 6-4 senior from Madison, Ga., who was leading the Jackets in scoring at the time of his injury, has shot 43.6 percent from the floor and 38.1 percent from three-point range this season.
Elder came off the bench at Clemson but could be inserted into the lineup for Sunday’s game. In his absence, Tech used a starting lineup led by 6-3 junior Jarrett Jack (Fort Washington, Md.) and 6-0 senior Will Bynum (Chicago, Ill.), who become Tech’s primary scorers.
A preseason candidate for the Wooden and Naismith Awards and called by some the best point guard in the nation, Jack ranks 13th in the ACC in scoring (15.2 ppg), fifth in assists (4.57 per game), sixth in field goal percentage (50.5), sixth in three-point percentage (42.1) and third in free throw percentage (88.3). Bynum has averaged 18.3 points over Tech’s last six games, is averaging 15.3 points per game in ACC games, and 13.0 points and 2.7 assists per game overall.
They have been joined in the lineup by three other seniors in 6-6 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Atlanta, Ga.), averaging 10.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game; 7-1 center Luke Schenscher (Hope Forest, South Australia), averaging 9.9 points and a team-high 7.7 rebounds per game; and 6-7 forward Anthony McHenry (Birmingham, Ala.), Tech’s underrated power forward averaging 4.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Muhammad has scored in double figures in six of his last eight games, averaging 12.5 points over that stretch. Schenscher, who ranks sixth in the ACC in rebounding and third in blocked shots (2.29 per game), has averaged 10.8 points and 9.3 rebounds in his last four games.
Jeremis Smith, a 6-6 forward from Fort Worth, Texas, who had averaged 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 points in Tech’s first two games, gave Tech a lift with 15 minutes off the bench at Clemson, getting three points and four rebounds. Smith, who suffered a dislocation of his right kneecap late in the Arkansas-Little Rock game on Nov. 26, adds a measure of toughness to Tech’s frontline and gives Anthony McHenry a rest at the power forward position.
Mario West, a 6-4 guard from Douglasville, Ga., has averaged more than 12 minutes a game in ACC games, mostly on his defensive prowess, but has given Tech a big lift off the bench offensively in the last four games, averaging 6.0 points (10-16 FG) and 4.3 rebounds. Theodis Tarver (Monroe, La.), a 6-9 junior, gives Tech depth in the post positions.
Tech’s other freshmen, 6-9 center Ra’Sean Dickey (Clio, S.C.) and 6-5 wingman Anthony Morrow (Charlotte, N.C.) have given the Yellow Jackets a huge lift since mid-December. Morrow has made 37.9 percent of his three-pointers this season overall and has five double-figure games off the bench this season. Dickey, who has shot 62.5 percent from the floor to lead the team this season, entrenched himself as Tech’s No. 2 center and is 19-for-29 from the floor (64.9 pct.) in ACC games. Zam Fredrick, a 6-0 guard from St. Matthews, S.C., has given Tech some quality minutes off the bench in the backcourt.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Paul Hewitt
On defending NC State – “In spite of our recent struggles with them, we’ve played close ballgames. We need an outstanding effort from all of our perimeter defenders. NC State runs that [Princeton] offense, but when they’re shooting the three, they’re almost impossible to guard. So we’ve got to get out and contest the three and defend them off the dribble.
“They do a good job of spreading the floor. All the games have been very close, but nonetheless, they’ve been able to make shots and make free throws at the end of games and pull them out. I expect another close game on Sunday, but obviously we have to play better down the stretch in order to win the game.”
On building on the Clemson victory – “We’ve got work to do. We’ve got to get the two new guys back in the flow offensively and defensively. We’re going to go back and go over some things that these guys missed due to a lack of court time.”
“The significant part of that win was our play in the second half, particularly B.J. Elder’s play and his contribution offensively. I thought he gave our team a nice lift. Our defense was very good again in the second half.”
On B.J. Elder – “When he’s right, he’s going to score from three, he’s going to score off the dribble, he’s going to post up, he’s going to get on the foul line. In that one sequence when we got ahead by five or six points, he did all of those things. When you have a guy like that who can score in so many different ways, it makes it easier to find those options.”
On Jeremis Smith’s return – “He did a nice job on the boards and did a great job defensively. He made some big plays defensively – he took a charge, made a steal – late in the game. He rebounded the ball very well.”
On working Elder and Smith back in the rotation – “They’re going to earn the minutes, but our team recognizes that they provide something that’s been missing. There are times when we haven’t had the scoring we’ve needed, or had some of the toughness we’ve needed. Those two guys provide those elements very consistently.
On roles changing for others – “It’ll make it easier on Theodis Tarver. We’ve been playing him at the power forward position, and one of the things that has set him back this year is moving him from the five (center) position to the four (power forward) position. We’ll play him more at the five now, and I think he’ll be more confortable and more effective.”
TECH VS. NC STATE
> NC State leads the overall series with Georgia Tech, 46-31. The Wolfpack have won five straight games in the series (by an average of 6.8 points) and 14 of the last 18. Prior to that, Tech had won seven in a row.
> Tech is 19-12 against the Wolfpack in Atlanta, including one “home-court” meeting that was played at the Omni in 1986, and has won four of the last five games against NC State in Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
> Earlier this season: NC State led by as many as 15 points on two occassions in the second half, and withstood two Tech rallies to win 76-68 in Raleigh … Ilian Evtimov led five Wolfpack players in double figures with 17 points, including a key three-point basket after Tech had pulled to within 64-61 late in the game … Jarrett Jack led Tech with 16 points.
> Tech is 3-7 against NC State under head coach Paul Hewitt. Since Herb Sendek took over the reins at NC State, the Jackets are 5-14 against the Wolfpack and averaged just 63 points over the 19 meetings … In the 10 games under Paul Hewitt, Tech has averaged 68.1 points against NC State.
> Since Tech joined the ACC, it is 23-33 against NC State, including regular-season and tournament games.
WHILE B.J. WAS AWAY
Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum picked up the scoring load for the Yellow Jackets in the absence of B.J. Elder. In those 10 games, including the Kansas game in which Elder sustained his hamstring injury, Jack averaged 17.2 points a game and Bynum 14.7. Even Isma’il Muhammad chipped in with five double figure games in the last seven.
That trio accounted for 54.3 percent of the Yellow Jackets field goal attempts, 57.2 percent of the points and 64.0 percent of the free throw attempts during the time Elder was out. They combined to go to the free throw line 15.1 times a game.
Jack shot 46.8 percent from the floor, 43.6 percent from three-point range and 89.5 percent from the free throw line in 57 attempts over that stretch. He scored a season-high 26 in that Kansas game, making 10 of 12 shots from the floor, added 22 against Virginia (5-7 from three), 24 at North Carolina (10-of-10 from the foul line) and 23 against Wake Forest (7-11 FG, 8-10 FT).
Bynum really stepped up against Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Florida State, scoring 28 against the Hokies and a career-high 30 against the Demon Deacons. He scored 19 against the Seminoles, including the game-winning three-point basket with 2.7 seconds left.
Muhammad averaged 12.4 points over the last seven of those games, including a season-high 17 against Wake Forest and 15 at Maryland, and made 50.7 percent of his shots over that stretch.
LUKE DRAWS A POSSE
Luke Schenscher has drawn plenty of attention from opposing defenses in the last month, but he has quietly begun to overcome the extra burden. The 7-1 senior is three rebounds shy of putting together a string of four straight double-doubles, averaging 10.8 points and 9.3 rebounds over his last four games.
In order, Schenscher scored 12 points with 10 rebounds against Maryland, 10 points with eight rebounds against Florida State, 11 points with 10 rebounds at Duke and 10 points with nine boards at Clemson. He has made 20 of 39 shots from the floor in that stretch.
Defensively, he has blocked 10 shots in the four games and has done excellent work against the opposing centers for the most part. Only Shelden Williams of Duke had a good statistical game against Schenscher, with 15 points and 12 boards. The other three combined for eight points (3-for-15 FG) and five rebounds.
Jarrett Jack became the 36th player in Georgia Tech history to reach 1,000 career points on Jan. 16 at NC State. The 6-3 junior currently has 1,087 points, which ranks 32nd in Tech history and 10th among active ACC players. He needs 19 points to pass Brook Steppe, and take over 31st place on the Tech list.
B.J. Elder reached the 1,000-point career milestone on Jan. 20 with his first point of the game at Wake Forest last season. The 6-4 senior currently has 1,482 career points, which ranks 16th on Tech’s career chart and third among active ACC players. He needs 16 points to surpass Kenny Anderson (1,497 from 1990-91).
Isma’il Muhammad has an outside chance at 1,000 career points by the end of the season. He has 952 now, and would need to average around seven points over Tech’s remaining scheduled games.