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Tech Looks to Build Momentum at Maryland

Jan. 29, 2005

College Park, Md. –

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Georgia Tech, fresh off a thrilling 102-101 overtime victory over No. 5 Wake Forest Thursday night, returns to the road Sunday for a nationally televised game against Maryland that tips off at 5:30 p.m.

The game is being televised across the country on Fox Sports Net. Radio coverage is provided by the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and will air in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790) and WREK-FM (91.1), as well as nationally on XM Satellite Radio Channel 180.

Tech (12-5, 3-3 ACC) is ranked No. 22 in the Associated Press and No. 21 in the ESPN/USA Today rankings this week. Thursday’s victory snapped a three-game losing streak which included a one-point home-court loss to Virginia Tech. The Yellow Jackets have lost both of their ACC road games (North Carolina and NC State), and Maryland is the first of three road games in the next four for Georgia Tech.

Maryland (12-5, 3-3) has won two of its last three conference games, including a 75-66 triumph over No. 2 Duke Wednesday in Durham.

Tech still leads the ACC or is close to the conference lead in several defensive categories, including points allowed (second, 64.3 ppg), field goal percentage defense (first, .366) and three-point defense (second, .300), rebounding (fourth, 40.9 per game) and defensive rebounds (first, 28.9 per game). The victory over Wake Forest, in which the Yellow Jackets shot 54.4 percent from the floor, 42.9 percent from three-point range and 81.6 percent from the foul line, ended a three-game streak in which they failed to reach 70 points.

The Yellow Jackets have played the last six games without leading scorer B.J. Elder (13.2 ppg), who strained his left hamstring in the first half of the game at Kansas and is not expected to play at Maryland. Tech also has had to deal with injuries to backup center Ra’Sean Dickey (hyperextended right knee against Virginia, missed one game), Will Bynum and Anthony McHenry (concussions) and Isma’il Muhammad (knee tendinitis) which have forced Tech to be further shorthanded in games and practice. Freshman Jeremis Smith (dislocated kneecap) has been out since the second game of the season.

Tech began the season with its highest national ranking (No. 3) since the 1985-86 squad held the top spot in the preseason AP poll. Tech has been nationally ranked for 29 consecutive weeks dating back to last Dec. 1, when the Jackets were No. 13 following their Preseason NIT championship.

Head coach Paul Hewitt’s team has played its last six-and-a-half games without 6-4 senior guard and leading scorer B.J. Elder (Madison, Ga.), who was averaging 13.2 points a game until he strained his left hamstring muscle in the first half of the Yellow Jackets’ loss at No. 2 Kansas on New Year’s Day. A preseason candidate for the Wooden and Naismith Awards, Elder was shooting 43.2 percent from the floor and 38.3 percent from three-point range.

In his absence, Tech has gone with a starting lineup led by 6-3 junior Jarrett Jack (Fort Washington, Md.), who tops Tech in most every offensive category and has become Tech’s primary scorer. Also a preseason candidate for the Wooden and Naismith Awards and called by some the best point guard in the nation, Jack ranks 12th in the ACC in scoring (15.9 ppg), sixth in assists (4.47 per game), fourth in field goal percentage (54.4), third in three-point percentage (44.4) and third in free throw percentage (87.7).

He is joined in the lineup by a quartet of seniors in 6-0 guard Will Bynum (Chicago, Ill.), averaging 13.1 points and 2.9 assists; 6-6 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Atlanta, Ga.), averaging 10.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game; 7-1 center Luke Schenscher (Hope Forest, South Australia), averaging 9.6 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds per game; and 6-7 forward Anthony McHenry (Birmingham, Ala.), Tech’s underrated power forward averaging 4.8 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Bynum scored a career-high 30 points against Wake Forest after putting up 28 against Virginia Tech, and is averaging 16.8 points in ACC games so far. Muhammad also turned in his best effort of the season against the Demon Deacons, scoring a season-high 17 points and matching a career-best for assists with six. He has scored in double figures in four straight games. and is hitting 55.8 percent of his shots in conference games.

Schenscher, who ranks eighth in the ACC in rebounding and third in blocked shots (2.24 per game), is hitting 54.6 percent of his shots from the floor and has averaged 8.8 points in league games thus far, while McHenry is averaging 5.0 points and 4.8 rebounds in ACC games.

Tech’s freshman class, rated No. 2 in the ACC by Bob Gibbons, has played more and more since December, with 6-9 center Ra’Sean Dickey (Clio, S.C.) and 6-5 wingman Anthony Morrow (Charlotte, N.C.) giving the Yellow Jackets a huge lift since mid-December.

Morrow broke a three-game shooting slump by scoring 11 points (3-of-5 on threes) against Wake Forest. The freshman has made 40 percent of his three-pointers this season overall and 34.5 percent in conference games. He has five double-figure games off the bench this season.

Dickey, who has shot 62.3 percent from the floor to lead the team this season, has entrenched himself as Tech’s No. 2 center behind Luke Schenscher. He is 13-for-20 from the floor in the five ACC games he has played, including his top game of 13 points (5-5 FG) with five rebounds in just 13 minutes against Virginia.

Theodis Tarver (Monroe, La.), a 6-9 junior who has logged more minutes at the power forward position while Jeremis Smith has been out. He played his best game of the season against Virginia with six points and five rebounds, and logged a season-high 18 minutes against Wake Forest. Mario West, a 6-4 guard from Douglasville, Ga., gives the Jackets a lift defensively on the perimeter. He had the best offensive game of his career against the Cavaliers with seven points, and has averaged more than 12 minutes in Tech’s last five games.

QUOTING HEAD COACH Paul Hewitt

On the win over Wake Forest — “That was an outstanding offensive effort by both teams. I was just glad to see us build on that last game. If anybody tries to figure out this league, when you get to the answer, let me know. Every game is an absolute tossup. I’m just happy that our guys battled and battled and battled and were able to come away with a win.”

On Jarrett Jack’s performance (23 points, 6 assists, game-winning free throws) – “I think Jarrett Jack is an outstanding player. I’m not just not sure that when a player as good as Jarrett does some of the things he does, like gets knocked off balance or stumbles, I’m just not sure he’s doing that all on his own. I think Chris Paul is an outstanding player. I’d just like to see a kid who has established himself to be one of the better players in this league be treated as such. It’s hard to complain about these things when you lose games because it sounds like sour grapes. But when he takes a shot and it hits the side of the backboard, he’s too good for that. When he’s dribbling the ball in the middle of the floor and he falls down, I’ve got to think something is there. This is a kid who was the MVP of the regional last year. I think there are other great players in this league that when things look awkward, there’s an assumption, and I’d like to see the same assumption for him.

On Will Bynum (who had a career-high 30 points) – “We’ve got a lot of guys with big hearts on this team, and he’s (Bynum) one of them. It may not look pretty all the time with him because he tries so hard. I think there are times when people perceive that as selfish, but he doesn’t have a selfish bone in his body. He’s an absolute competitor. Certainly, I think he’s learning the game and he’s much, much more open to coaching than when he first got here, and it’s benefitted him. At the end of the day, that kid is an absolute competitor. He wanted the ball very badly at the end, and I was trying to figure out ways to get him a touch with some space.”

On breaking Tech’s three-game losing streak – “This team has a lot of pride. This season is long from over, regardless of what happens with this team, I can tell you right now, they have a lot of pride. They’re going to come at you and come at you and come at you until you beat them. In this league you’ve got to play like that every night.

SERIES NOTES WITH MARYLAND

> Georgia Tech holds a 33-28 lead in the all-time series with Maryland, one of four ACC teams against whom it has an all-time winning record (Clemson, Miami and Virginia are the others). The Yellow Jackets have won the last three meetings, including both games last year, and the teams are even over their last 10 meetings.

> Last season: Georgia Tech swept the season series from Maryland for the first time since the 1992-93 season when it defeated the Terrapins, 75-64, at the Comcast Center on Feb. 19. It also was the Yellow Jackets’ first win in College Park since the 1993-94 season, snapping a string of nine straight losses. Tech won the first meeting between the two teams, 81-71, on Jan. 17 in Atlanta. > Tech’s 33-24 record against Maryland since 1979-80 is its best mark against any ACC team since the Jackets joined the league.

> Tech is 4-4 against Maryland under head coach Paul Hewitt, 1-3 at College Park. Tech is 16-16 vs. Gary Williams-coached Maryland teams.

> Five of the eight games between Tech and Maryland since Paul Hewitt became the head coach have been decided by 10 points or fewer.

> Percentage wise and in terms of the number of wins, Tech’s 11-18 road record vs. Maryland is the second-best it has against any team in the ACC. The Jackets are 1-1 in the Comcast Center, and were 10-17 at Cole Field House.

> Tech and Maryland will not play in Atlanta this season (this is the only scheduled meeting). Tech has won three of the last four home games with Maryland, including a 72-62 victory in 2001 and 69-68 in 2000. The lone loss occurred in the 2001-02 season by five points (92-87).

> Maryland won the first nine games of the series, but Tech turned the tables under head coach Bobby Cremins, winning 28 of 35 meetings (including 10 in a row at one point) through the 1995-96 season. The Terps won the next seven in a row before Cremins’ last Tech Jacket team won 69-68 at home on Jan. 15, 2000.

PICKING UP THE SCORING LOAD

Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum have increased their scoring load for the Yellow Jackets in the absence of B.J. Elder. In Tech’s last seven games, including the Kansas game in which Elder sustained his hamstring injury, Jack has averaged 20.0 points a game and Bynum 15.4. Even Isma’il Muhammad has chipped in with four straight double figure games.

Jack has shot 52.6 percent from the floor, 50.0 percent from three-point range and 88.0 percent from the free throw line in 50 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).

While he has not shot the ball for a high percentage over the seven games, Bynum has really stepped up in the last two games, scoring 28 against Virginia Tech and a career-high 30 against Wake Forest. Bynum was 16-for-31 from the floor (8-of-15 from three) and 18-of-20 from the foul line in those two games.

Muhammad has averaged 13.5 points over Tech’s last four games, including a season-hgih 17 against Wake Forest, and has made 64.7 percent of his shots over that stretch.

As a team, Tech has averaged 78.3 points in Elder’s absence, almost equal to the season norm, shot 45.8 percent from the floor (two percent off) and 33.3 percent from three-point range (1.4 percent off). Those numbers were boosted dramatically against Wake Forest, in which Tech established season bests against ACC opponents in scoring (102 points), field goal percentage (54.4 pct.), three-point percentage (42.9 pct.) and free throw shooting (81.6 pct., 38 attempts).

TECH STOCK TIPS

> Tech established season bests against ACC opponents in scoring (102 points), field goal percentage (54.4 pct.), three-point percentage (42.9 pct.) and free throw shooting (81.6 pct., 38 attempts) against Wake Forest.

> It was the first time Tech had scored 100 points in a game since a 113-75 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 23, 2002. It was the first time Tech had scored 100 points in an ACC game since a 111-108 victory at Clemson on Jan. 24, 2000.

> Wake Forest was Tech’s first Top-25 victim in four tries this season, and the Yellow Jackets are 20-30 against ranked teams under Paul Hewitt. Tech had lost all three prior games against Top-25 teams (Gonzaga, Kansas, North Carolina).

> Tech had made just 9-of-45 three-point shots in its last three games (all losses) and had shot 31.3 percent from that distance in six games dating back to Jan. 1 vs. Kansas before going 9-for-21 against Wake Forest. Tech also began the season that way, going 9-for-42 in the first two games. In between the Yellow Jackets shot 39.6 percent from behind the arc.

> Tech has a minus-2.2 rebounding deficit against the ACC and has outrebounded only Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. That said, the Yellow Jackets’ rebounding average is up more than 4 per game from last year, and its rebound margin for the season is also up 4 per game.

> Owing to Tech’s efforts to be balanced on offense, three players are shooting better than 50 percent from the floor, but only one of them (Jarrett Jack) have enough field goals to make the ACC rankings. Jack’s 15.9 points a game leads Tech, but ranks only 12th in the ACC.

> Four Tech players are averaging in double figures in scoring, five average 9.6 or more, and seven average 6.4 or more.

> Tech averaged almost 10 first-half turnovers in its three ACC losses, but reversed that trend with just five in the win over Wake Forest.

> In six conference games so far, Tech’s opponents have been to the free throw line 166 times to Tech’s 171. That includes a 30-14 Yellow Jacket advantage against Virginia Tech and a 38-31 advantage over Wake Forest. In the two road games, the opponents have shot 72 free throws to Tech’s 53.

> Tech has had nine double-figure performances off the bench this year, including five from Anthony Morrow. Tech’s bench has averaged 22.3 points this season, 19.0 ppg against ACC teams.

> In its three ACC wins this season, Tech has shot 50.5 percent from the floor, 39.7 percent from three-point range and 73.5 percent from the foul line. In its three conference losses, the percentages are 42.4, 20.0 and 68.7. Tech has scored 91.3 points on average in its three wins, 68.7 in the three losses.

> Away from home this season, Tech has shot 40.9 percent from the floor, its opponents 40.5 percent. Tech has shot only 25.6 percent from three-point range, its opponents 40.6 percent.

> At home, conversely, Tech has outshot its opponents 49.7 percent to 35.5. From three-point range, Tech has shot 38.6 percent to its opponents’ 26.3 percent.

> Tech has played only five games closer than 10 points, and the Yellow Jackets are 2-3 in those games. Tech is 32-30 in such games under Paul Hewitt.

PLAYER QUICK HITS

> 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 1,039 points, which ranks 35th in Tech history and 10th among active ACC players.

> Jack has been to the free throw line 50 times in Tech’s last seven games (he made 44), compared to 31 in Tech’s first 10 games. Away from Atlanta this season, Jack is 24-of-25 (96.0 percent) from the charity stripe.

> Jack’s 54.4 percent shooting from the floor leads all ACC guards. He has made at least one three-point field goal in 11 straight games and has made 48.0 percent in ACC games.

> Will Bynum has 58 points in his last two games, made 16-of-31 from the floor, 8-of-15 from three-point range and 18-of-20 from the foul line.

> Isma’il Muhammad has reached double figures in four straight games, averaging 13.5 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 22-for-34 from the floor against North Carolina, NC State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

> Ra’Sean Dickey is 13-for-20 from the floor in ACC games.

> Mario West has played double digit minutes in each of his last five games and has also scored in five straight games.

> Anthony Morrow went 3-for-5 from three-point range in the first half of the Wake Forest game, breaking a three-game slump in which he was 1-for-12.

> Anthony McHenry has averaged 5.0 rebounds in his last eight games, one per game above his season norm.

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