Georgia Tech has tipped off the Paul Hewitt era with convincing wins over Wofford (92-49), Charleston Southern (85-62) and Davidson (92-61), and the Yellow Jackets go on the road in search of win No. 4 Tuesday night against Iowa in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Tech has demonstrated improved shooting in its first two games, hitting 49 percent of its shots overall and 51.5 percent (35-of-68) from three-point range. The Jackets have aver-aged 89.7 points with a low of 85 against Charleston Southern. On the defensive end, Tech has limited the three opponents to 31.7 percent shooting from the floor and just 14-of-48 (29.2 percent) from three-point range while forcing 43 turnovers (36 steals) and blocking 24 shots (16 by Alvin Jones).
A different player has led Tech in scoring in each game thus far, with senior guard Shaun Fein’s career-best 32 against Wofford, senior center Alvin Jones’ 21 against Charles-ton Southern, and freshman guard-forward Marvin Lewis’ 22 vs. Davidson.
Fein leads four Tech players averaging in double figures with 17.0 points per game, followed by Jones at 16.7 points and a team-best 10.7 rebounds, junior guard Tony Akins at 14.0 and Lewis at 12.3.
Tech vs. Iowa
Georgia Tech is meeting Iowa for the first time ever, but the Yellow Jackets are no stranger to playing Big Ten teams. Tech has met a Big Ten team seven times since 1990, and at least one in five of the last seven years. Overall, Tech is 8-24 all-time against the Big Ten.
Tech lost to Michigan last year in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, 80-77, at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
Hot Shooting Out of the Gate
Head coach Paul Hewitt’s team has met his expectations in shooting, hitting 51.5 per-cent of its three-point attempts (35-of-68) against its first three opponents after making 50 percent (28-of-56) in its two exhibition games.
Tech is shooting 49.0 percent from the floor overall, led by Tony Akins at 62.5 percent overall and 72.7 percent (8-of-11) from three-point range. Shaun Fein has shot 59.4 percent in three games (47.6 from three-point range), and Alvin Jones is at 58.1 percent.
The Jackets have been consistent as well, shooting 58.3 percent from three-point range against Wofford, 47.4 percent against Charleston Southern and 48.0 percent against Davidson.
Overall from the floor, the percentages have been 51.5, 48.4 and 47.0 percent, and the Jackets are attempting about 35 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, close to the coaching staff’s goal of one-third.
Different Guy Every Night
Tech has had a different player lead it in scoring in each game so far, another design of the Yellow Jackets’ style of play. Against Wofford, it was senior guard Shaun Fein with a career night of 32 points on 12 of 16 field goal attempts and 7-of-11 from three-point range. Alvin Jones dominated the inside against Charleston Southern to score 21 on 8-of-12 shooting, and freshman Marvin Lewis canned 6-of-7 three-point attempts to score 22 last time out against Davidson.
No player has attempted more than Fein’s 16 field goals against Charleston Southern.
Lewis’ 22 points came on just 11 shots.
All of Tech’s players have participated in the Yellow Jackets’ high scoring efforts not just by scoring, but by working the ball around. Tech has managed 65 assists on its 95 field goals in three games, meaning 68 percent of the Jackets’ field goals have come as a direct result of another player’s passing. Only the 1987-88 Tech team has been able to achieve that percentage over the course of a season. Only three have ever assisted on as many as 65 percent of the team’s field goals.
At least seven players have recorded an assist in each game thus far, nine each against Wofford and Davidson.
A Lid on the Other Basket
In the season opener, Tech held Wofford to 25.5-percent shooting from the floor and only 14 field goals made. It was the eighth-lowest percentage Tech has allowed and in-cluded just 3-for-16 from three-point range. Charleston Southern didn’t fare much better, shooting 32 percent overall and 4-of-17 from three-point range, and Davidson managed 36.7 percent overall.
While holding the three teams collectively to 31.7 percent shooting, Tech has also forced 53 turnovers, made 36 steals and blocked 24 shots. Dating back to last year’s regular-season finale against Clemson, the Jackets have held five straight opponents under 40 percent shooting from the floor.
Ten Players in Rotation
Head coach Paul Hewitt used 10 players for at least 10 minutes each against in all three games thus far, continuing the rotation used in each of Tech’s two exhibition games. Tech still awaits the return over sophomore forward Clarence Moore, who continues to do a little more each day in practice and is expected back in early December.
The lineup Tech has begun each game with will be the same one that starts against Charleston Southern: 5-11 junior Tony Akins and 6-3 senior Shaun Fein at the guards, 6-3 freshman Marvin Lewis and 6-7 senior Jon Babul at the forwards, and 6-11 senior Alvin Jones at center.
Big Strides at Free Throw Line
If Georgia Tech’s first three regular-season games are any indication, the Yellow Jack-ets may be vastly improved in their free throw shooting. Tech has made 73.3 percent of its free throws in the first three games, including 16-of-19 against Charleston Southern. Tony Akins and Marvin Lewis are a combined 10-for-10, Jon Babul is 11-of-12, and Alvin Jones is 14-of-22.
Tech hit 26 of 30 free throw attempts in its two exhibition games (86.7 percent). The Jackets shot 68.3 percent from the line last season, a six-percent improvement from the year before.
Excellent free throw shooting was one of the hallmarks of Paul Hewitt’s teams at Siena.
The Saints made 77.8 percent of their free throws during his three seasons at the Loudonville, N.Y., school.
Schedule Heats Up
Georgia Tech’s schedule heats up in the next two weeks following last Friday night’s game with Davidson.
After the Yellow Jackets visit Iowa Tuesday (9:30 p.m.) in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, they meet 15th-ranked UCLA Saturday in the Wooden Classic in Anaheim, Calif. The fol-lowing week, Tech hosts Georgia on Dec. 6 and meets No. 21 Kentucky on Dec. 9 at Philips Arena in the Delta Air Lines Classic for Kids.
Tech then takes a week off for fall semester exams before playing in the Stanford Invi-tational on Dec. 18-19.
Jones Climbs Rebounding List
Center Alvin Jones began his senior year in eighth place on Tech’s career rebounding list. The 6-11 pivotman is the ACC’s active leader with 795 career rebounds. With five more rebounds, he will move past former Yellow Jacket John Salley for seventh place in Tech history.
The Tech record of 1,205 rebounds (Malcolm Mackey, 1990-93) is likely out of reach for Jones, but he has a chance to join Mackey as the only Tech players to reach 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Jones has 961 career points.
Center Alvin Jones missed a double-double in each of the first two Tech games by a single rebound, but he notched his first of the season, and 22nd of his career, Friday night against Davidson with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
It was the first double-double for the 6-11 senior in 12 games dating back to last Feb. 5, when he had 11 points and 10 rebounds against Florida A&M.
A Fein Opening Night
Shaun Fein made the season-opener of his senior year one to remember, notching a career high for scoring in a Georgia Tech uniform with 32 points. He made 12 of 16 field goal attempts, 7 of 11 from three-point range. He scored 20 in the first half. Fein’s previous career best was 24 last year against Lafayette, and his previous high for three-point field goals was six in that game and against Florida State.