Jan. 11, 2002
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech faces a top 5 team for the second game in a row Sunday when No. 4 Maryland visits Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center for a 2 p.m. nationally televised game on ESPN.
Tech (7-9, 0-3) lost for the fourth time in five games Thursday night in a 104-79 defeat at top-ranked Duke, and is looking for its first Atlantic Coast Conference win. Maryland (12-2, 2-0) has won four in a row since a Dec. 21 loss at Oklahoma, including a 112-79 win over North Carolina Wednesday night.
Led by the backcourt tandem of 5-11 Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.) and 6-4 Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.) Tech has been balanced offensively and averages 77.6 points a game, leading the ACC in three-point field goal percentage (37.0) and ranking third in three-pointers per game (8.06). The Jackets have struggled defensively, however, allowing nearly 80 points a game.
Akins, Tech’s point guard, ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring (16.1 points per game), fifth in assists (5.6 per game) and second in three-point shooting (42.6 percent). Lewis, Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures with 13.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, ranks third in the ACC in free throw percentage (87.7). He has made 43.1 percent of his three-point attempts, but falls short of the ACC minimum for being ranked.
Head coach Paul Hewitt used his sixth different starting lineup at Duke, with 6-3 freshman B.J. Elder (Madison, Ga.) replacing 6-8 Robert Brooks (So., Saginaw, Mich.) for a three-guard look. Elder averages 9.5 points per game. The rest of Tech’s starting five in the three games prior to Duke included 6-5 Clarence Moore (So., Norco, La.) and 6-7 Ed Nelson (Fr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at the forwards and Brooks at center.
Moore, who scored 16 points against Clemson, averages 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds. Nelson averages 6.6 points and a team-leading 6.9 rebounds, which also tops all ACC freshmen. Brooks, who started 10 games prior to Duke and will probably return to the lineup Sunday, averages 5.4 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Halston Lane (So., Oak Ridge., Tenn.) is one of Tech’s top scorers off the bench at 8.4 per game. Also coming off the bench are 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), who returned to action Thursday following a hip injury and is averaging 7.2 points and 3.1 rebounds, and 6-5 guard Anthony McHenry (Fr., Birmingham, Ala.), 2.2 ppg.
Tech Series vs. Maryland
After dropping seven straight games to Maryland in the series, Georgia Tech split its regular-season meetings with the Terrapins each of the last two years, and the Yellow Jackets have a 30-25 all-time lead in the series.
Maryland, ranked 17th at the time, defeated Tech, 93-80, last Jan. 5 at Cole Field House, before the Jackets squared the season series with a 72-62 over the 13th-rated Terps on Feb. 6 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
In each of the last seven meetings, Maryland has been ranked in the top 25, while Tech has been unranked.
Tech has won the last two encounters in Atlanta, including a 69-68 win on Jan. 15, 2000, and has a 15-6 mark against Maryland at Alexander Memorial. Including games home games at the former Omni arena, Tech is 16-6 against the Terps at home.
Last Time Out
Georgia Tech fell to 0-3 in the ACC with a 104-79 loss to top-ranked Duke in Durham. Tech scored the last 16 points of the ball game after trailing by 41 points at the 3:33 mark.
Despite the large margin of defeat, Tech shot the ball fairly well (45.8 percent overall and 53.3 percent from three-point range) and outrebounded the Blue Devils, 38-36. But the Yellow Jackets turned the ball over 29 times leading to 44 Duke points.
Tech in the Thrillerdome
Georgia Tech’s win over Cornell Jan. 2 was the 450th for the Yellow Jackets at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center since the facility opened for the 1956-57 season.
Tech is playing its 46th season at the Thrillerdome, and the Jackets have a record of 450-155 (.744) in the building, which opened Nov. 30, 1956 with a 71-61 Tech loss to Duke. Since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, Tech is 212-54 (.797) in its on-campus home, but has struggled at home this season with a 4-4 record to this point.
Georgia Tech is 120-8 against non-conference opposition at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, an impressive mark indeed. But three of those eight losses have occurred this season to Penn, Tulane and IUPUI. From 1981 through last season, the only non-ACC teams to win at the Thrillerdome were Georgia (Dec. 6, 2000), Penn State (March 18, 1998), the College of Charleston (Jan. 16, 1993), Louisville (Jan. 15, 1989), and Richmond (Dec. 22, 1987).
Akins At The Point
Tony Akins, who made his 102nd career start vs. Duke, has been Georgia Tech’s most consistent offensive player, scoring in double digits in 14 of 16 games and leading the Jackets in scoring at 16.1 points per game (8th in the ACC) while averaging 5.6 assists (5th in the ACC).
The 5-11 senior has hit 11 of 17 three-point attempts in his last three games and ranks second in the ACC in both three-point percentage (42.6) and three-point field goals per game (3.25).
Akins is averaging career-bests in most offensive categories, including scoring, assists and shooting. His 5.6 assists per game are more than a full assist better than his career-best rate of 4.5 as a freshman. He has had three double-digit assist games this year.
Akins ranks sixth in career assists (474), having passed Kenny Anderson for that spot in the Cornell game, and 8th in steals (141). He has 1,376 career points, jumping to 17th place in Tech history after beginning the year in 28th. He needs 36 points to move past Lenny Horton (1,411 points, 1977-80) for 16th place.
Lewis Finds His Mark
Marvin Lewis has established himself as one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC, hitting 43.1 percent of his attempts this season, which would rank second in the ACC if he met the league-minimum of two made per game. He falls four three-pointers shy of the minimum.
The 6-4 sophomore has been very consistent offensively of late, scoring in double figures in seven of nine games and averaging 13.1 points. Lewis has taken his game inside more, hitting 45.1 percent of his shots overall in that stretch.
He also is one of the ACC’s top marksmen from the foul line, hitting 87.7 percent from the stripe (third in the ACC) on a team-high 57 attempts. He hit 8-of-9 against Clemson and has had three games where he was 6-for-6 (Illinois, Davidson, Wofford). Over his last seven games, he has hit 90.6 percent from the stripe (29-32).
A Balanced Attack
Only two Yellow Jackets, Tony Akins (16.1 ppg) and Marvin Lewis (13.3 ppg), are averaging in double-figures for the season, but Georgia Tech has been balanced offensively for the past month, placing at least four players in double figures in eight of the last 10 games (three did against Clemson and Duke).
Eight different players are averaging better than five points per game, including six who are scoring seven points per game or more. Nine different Yellow Jackets have scored in double figures at least once this season.
Overall, Tech has averaged 77.6 points per game this season, nearly two points per game better than last season, fifth in the ACC. The Jackets lead the ACC in three-point percentage (37.0) and rank third in free throw percentage (69.4).
Offense Running Smoothly
Georgia Tech has found consistency and balance in its offense since December began, averaging 81.9 points in the last 10 games. That includes 96 points against 13th-ranked Syracuse on Dec. 16, its highest scoring output since 97 in the season opener against Florida A&M, 92 points vs. IUPUI and 86 vs. Cornell. The low point in that stretch was a 69-point night against Tulane.
Elder and Lane Lead Tech off the Bench
Freshman B.J. Elder has scored in double digits in five of the last six games, averaging 11.8 points and hitting 44.6 percent of his shots (29-of-65) during that stretch. Elder has been Tech’s top scorer off the bench this season, and earned his first career start Thursday at Duke, scoring 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
Halston Lane, who started three games before returning to reserve duty against IUPUI, has scored in double figures in four of his last seven games and six of the last 10, averaging 10.3 points in the last 10 games. He has hit 17 of 40 three-pointers (42.5 percent) in that stretch.
Tech Holding Its Own On The Boards
Rebounding and size were pre-season concerns for head coach Paul Hewitt, but the Yellow Jackets have gotten off to a good start on the boards despite having no player taller than 6-8 for the last 10 games. Tech has outrebounded its opponents by an average of more than five per game (41.6 to 36.3), and has beaten 10 of 16 opponents on the boards.
Even with 6-11 Alvin Jones leading the ACC in rebounding a year ago, Tech struggled as a team, being outrebounded 40-to-37.5 for the season.
More impressive is the fact that Tech has averaged 16.13 offensive rebounds, which leads in the ACC. Three Tech players – Robert Brooks (2.62), Ed Nelson (2.56) and Clarence Moore (2.25) – rank among the ACC’s top 15 in offensive rebounds.
Taking Better Care of the Ball
Despite its struggles in other areas, Georgia Tech has taken better care of the ball of late, averaging just 13.3 turnovers in the six games before running into the smarming defense of Duke Thursday night. Tech committed a season-low eight each against IUPUI and Cornell.
Tech averaged 19.1 turnovers over its first eight games, including three games with more than 20.
Tech Stronger at the Line
Georgia Tech has shown modest improvement this season from the free throw line (69.4 percent), and have six players over 70 percent from the stripe. The Jackets rank third in the ACC in free throw percentage.
Marvin Lewis ranks third in the conference at 87.7 percent, followed by Akins at 77.1 percent, B.J. Elder at 76.0 percent, Halston Lane at 74.4 percent, Clarence Moore at 73.2 and Robert Brooks at 71.4.
Getting to the free throw line has been key to Tech in its victories. The Jackets have averaged 24.1 free throws in their seven wins, 18.2 in their losses.
Besides freshman Ed Nelson, who has struggled at 46.8 percent on 47 attempts, second most on the team, Tech has an aggregate free throw percentage of 73.1 percent. Tech has not shot 70 percent from the stripe for an entire season since the 1995-96 season (70.3).
Shuffling the Lineup
Facing a roster with five new scholarship players, head coach Paul Hewitt used his sixth different starting lineup vs. Duke, tinkering to find that right combination or match up better against its opponent. The backcourt duo of Tony Akins and Marvin Lewis are the only players to have started all 15 games this season, while eight different players have started at least one game.
Freshman B.J. Elder became the ninth different player to start a game this season Thursday night against Duke, while sophomore swingman Halston Lane cracked the starting five for the first time in his career against Davidson. Freshman Ed Nelson started the first nine games of the season and the last four.
Despite who starts the game, Hewitt is still using a nine-man rotation while Schenscher is out with a foot injury (see below). Counting Schenscher, 10 different Yellow Jackets are averaging at least 10 minutes a game.
Schenscher Out With Broken Foot
Luke Schenscher, who averaged 3.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in six games, has out of the lineup since the Dec. 1 North Carolina game after X-rays revealed a broken third metatarsal bone in his left foot Nov. 29. The 7-foot freshman, who has missed 10 games, shed his walking boot in early January and has begun doing very light work on the court.
The loss leaves Tech with just nine healthy scholarship players. Senior Michael Isenhour will miss the entire season while being treated for leukemia.
It also leaves Tech with a small roster with the tallest player being 6-8 Robert Brooks.
Bench a Key Component for Tech
Playing with a 10-man rotation (nine now with the absence of Schenscher) since the arrival of head coach Paul Hewitt, Georgia Tech has come to rely more heavily on its bench. They have provided the Jackets some real spark offensively this season.
Tech’s reserves have 30 or more points five times this season, averaging 26.7 in 16 games, roughly 35 percent of its total scoring output of 77.6 points per game. Tech’s bench scored 46 points Dec. 1 at North Carolina and 40 vs. Florida A&M in the season opener.
Tech has had a double-figure scorer off the bench in 10 games this season.
Last year, Tech received 20.4 points per game from its reserves, 25 percent of its total scoring output.
Akins For Three
Tony Akins has made his mark as one of the top three-point shooters in Georgia Tech history. Only Dennis Scott (351-for-831) and Travis Best (258-for-656) rank ahead of Akins on Tech’s career lists for three-point field goals made and attempted.
Akins, who is 255-for-686 in his career (37.2 percent), has risen to 10th place on the all-time ACC list for three-point field goals made. In his junior and senior years taken together, Akins has posted an accuracy rate of 42.0 percent.
Scott, who set his records in three seasons, shot 42.2 percent from three-point range in his career.
Brooks Provides a Lift for Jackets
Robert Brooks may not be 7-feet tall, but he has walked tall for the Yellow Jacket since joining the starting lineup for the Wisconsin game on Nov. 28.
The 6-8 sophomore began to heat up in his third start against Georgia on Dec. 9, and has responded with 7.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in the last nine games, including double-figure scoring efforts against the Bulldogs (13 and 10), Syracuse (17 and 8) and Wofford (12 and 9).
Head coach Paul Hewitt inserted Brooks in the lineup Dec. 28 against Wisconsin, and the 6-8 sophomore started 10 straight contests before coming off the bench at Duke.
“Mo” Better Moore
Sophomore forward Clarence Moore, who broke a bone in his left foot in early September of last year and played just five games last season, has become more consistently productive for the Yellow Jackets of late.
After a two-game absence from the starting lineup, Clarence Moore got back in the lineup for Georgia (Dec. 9) and responded with a career-high 20 points with 7 assists against Syracuse, which earned him ACC co-Player of the Week honors, and a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) in the following game against Davidson.
The 6-5 sophomore has averaged 10.5 points the last nine games and has hit 46.0 percent of his field goals. He ranks second overall in field goal percentage (46.2) for Tech and is the team’s third-leading rebounder (4.9).
The 6-5 Moore sustained the injury in a pickup game on Sept. 3, 2000, and underwent two surgical procedures, one in September and one in February, before being cleared to play in August. His request for a medical hardship was approved by the NCAA, and he has three years of eligibility remaining.
Unlike last season, when Georgia Tech’s roster included five seniors, this year’s roster features five freshmen and four sophomores, no juniors and two seniors among its scholarship players.
With Michael Isenhour sidelined this season while being treated for leukemia, Tony Akins is the only senior starter. The remaining minutes are spread among sophomores Clarence Moore, Marvin Lewis, Halston Lane and Robert Brooks, as well as the freshman group of guards B.J. Elder and Anthony McHenry, forwards Ed Nelson and Isma’il Muhammad and center Luke Schenscher.
As a result, Tech has more starts by freshmen and sophomores combined (64 out of 80 possible) than any other ACC team, almost completely opposite of last year, when Tech led the ACC last season in senior starts.
Georgia Tech (7-9, 0-3) vs. No. 4/4 Maryland (12-2, 2-0)January 13, 2002 o 2 p.m.Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald's Center o Atlanta, Ga.
TV: ESPN, Brad Nessler, pbp, Jay Bilas, color Radio: WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1), Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 7-9, 0-3 ACC H: 4-4, A: 0-3, N: 3-2 Series vs. Maryland: Tech leads 30-25 Vs. Maryland at AMC: Tech leads 15-6 Last year’s meetings: Maryland won, 93-80, in College Park, Tech won 72-62, in Atlanta Hewitt Record: 90-49 (.647), 5th season Hewitt at Tech: 24-22 (.522), 2nd season Last game: Jan. 10, Duke d. Tech, 104-79, at Durham Next game: Jan. 19, at NC State, 2 p.m., Raleigh [RJ] More info: Ramblinwreck.com
Probable Starters F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 8.4 ppg 4.9 rpg F 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 6.6 ppg 6.9 rpg C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 5.4 ppg 6.3 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 16.1 ppg 5.6 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 13.3 ppg 4.9 rpg