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Tech Men Host No. 1 Duke

Feb. 8, 2002

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech takes a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s 2 p.m. game with No. 1-ranked Duke at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center, the teams’ second meeting this season.

The game will be televised by ABC and air in Atlanta on WSB-TV (Ch. 2). Local radio coverage is on WQXI-AM (790) and WMAX-FM (98.1).

Tech (10-13, 3-7 ACC) continued to build momentum Wednesday night with a 74-50 win over Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum, lifting itself seventh place in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings with Florida State. Duke (21-1, 9-1) ACC, has won nine straight games since a Jan. 6 loss to FSU after defeating the Seminoles 80-49 Thursday night in Durham.

Tech has clicked offensively and played superior defense in winning its last three games, outscoring the three opponents by an average of 22 points and limiting them to 35.6 percent shooting (29 percent from three-point range) and 57 points per game. “We can’t turn the ball over,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. We gave up 44 points on turnovers the last time we played.”

Tech has made a transformation of sorts since the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 10, and has closed out its last three opponents in the second half rather than suffer a game-deciding lapse at some point during the game.

“In the first half of the first Duke game, they took it right to us,” said Hewitt. “In the second half, we outscored them, and from tat game on, we’ve played some outstanding basketball. We haven’t responded well when some teams made runs at us, but we kept at it and kept playing well. When we got that first one, we could get some things together.”

Still, Tech must be at its top form against a team that has beaten its last eight opponents by an average of almost 19 points a game.

“They’ve lost four games in two years,” said Hewitt. “The common thread has been foul trouble or injury to their big guys. The other common thread in all four of those losses has been foul shooting. It’s been getting after their inside guys, getting them in foul trouble and hurting them inside, and hoping that they miss foul shots. You can do something about the first part.”

Leading the way for the Yellow Jackets is point guard Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.), who has averaged 17.8 points in Tech’s last four games. He ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring (16.1), fifth in assists (5.7) and first in three-point field goals per game (3.26). Off-guard Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.) is Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures for the season with 12.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He leads the ACC in three-point percentage (43.6) and is third in free throw accuracy (88.2).

Tech’s starting lineup for the last five games has included 6-5 sophomore Clarence Moore (Norco, La.) and 6-3 freshman B.J. Elder (Madison, Ga.) at the forwards, and 6-7 freshman Ed Nelson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at center.

Moore, who has averaged 10.8 points and 5.7 in ACC games, averages 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds for the season. Nelson has played very well of late, averaging 8.1 points and a team-leading 7.0 rebounds, which also tops all ACC freshmen. Elder, who scored a season-high 19 points at Clemson, averages 9.6 points.

Tech goes five deep on the bench, led by 6-5 sophomore wingman Halston Lane (Oak Ridge, Tenn.), 7.2 points per game, 6-8 sophomore center Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.), 4.1 points and 5.0 rebounds, 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), who averages 6.9 points and 3.4 rebounds, and 6-5 guard Anthony McHenry (Fr., Birmingham, Ala.), 1.9 ppg. Seven-foot freshman center Luke Schenscher (Hope Forest, South Australia), who returned to the court against Virginia after missing 12 games with a broken foot, averages 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds.

“Luke has allowed our guys to be a little more aggressive to contest shots,” said Hewitt. “It strengthens our perimeter defense because we don’t have to sag back. His arms are long, and he can cover a lot of ground. He’s also an excellent passer and can get some touches in the paint and kick it out for threes.”

Tech Series vs. Duke

oDuke leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech, 48-20, following its 104-79 victory over the Yellow Jackets on Jan. 10 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

oDuke has won the last 11 games in a row with Georgia Tech dating back to the 1995-96 season, when the Stephon Marbury/Drew Barry-led Jackets swept the season series from the Blue Devils.

oDuke was the first opponent for Georgia Tech in Alexander Memorial Coliseum back on Nov. 30, 1956, when the Blue Devils took a 71-61 victory. Tech is 11-15 against Duke in the Thrillerdome, and the Blue Devils have won the last five meetings here.

oIn the last five meetings with Duke at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, all Duke wins, the closest game was eight points (87-79) on Feb. 6, 1999.

oSaturday’s game will be the 10th time Tech has faced Duke when it is ranked No. 1 in the nation. The Yellow Jackets have won one of the previous nine, an 80-79 thriller on Jan. 10, 1993.

oIn the first meeting with Duke this season, Tech trailed by 41 points but scored the last 16 points of the game. It remains the longest such run by the Yellow Jackets this season. It also marked B.J. Elder’s first career start (10 points, 5-9 FG). He has started Tech’s last five games and six overall. Tony Akins and Ed Nelson scored 14 apiece for the Jackets. Tech shot 53.3 percent from three-point range and 45.8 percent overall, but committed a season-high 29 turnovers.

Tech vs. No. 1

Georgia Tech is 7-30 all-time against teams ranked No. 1 in the nation, the most recent encounter being the Yellow Jackets’ 104-79 loss to Duke on Jan. 10. Tech’s most frequent opponent as a No. 1 team has been Kentucky and North Carolina (12 times each), followed by Duke (8 times). See page 245 of the Georgia Tech media guide.

Tech’s last win over a No. 1 team was Feb. 12, 1994, a 96-89 triumph at North Carolina. Tech’s victories over No. 1 teams are:

Jan. 8, 1955    at Kentucky, 59-58Jan. 31, 1955   Kentucky, 65-69Jan. 4, 1964    Kentucky, 76-67Jan. 10, 1993   Duke, 80-79Mar. 14, 1993   North Carolina, 77-75 (ACC Tournament)Jan. 12, 1994   North Carolina, 89-69Feb. 12, 1994   at North Carolina, 96-89

Last Time Out

Georgia Tech recorded its first 50-percent game from the floor in 29 outings Wednesday in a 74-50 win over Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Yellow Jackets, who shot 51.9 percent for the game, hit 54.8 percent of its attempts in the first half to take a 44-24 lead.

The Tigers drew no closer than 16 points in the second half. Tech limited Clemson to 34 percent shooting for the game (19 percent from three-point range) and outrebounded the Tigers, 35-33. Clemson had shot 50.9 percent and outrebounded Tech 43-35 in the teams’ first meeting. The Jackets limited post players Chris Hobbs and Ray Henderson to just six shots, and held guards Tony Stockman and Edward Scott to 3-of-17 shooting.

Tech was 11-of-23 from three-point range, and freshman B.J. Elder led all scorers with 19 points in just 16 minutes. Tony Akins added 12 points, and Halston Lane chipped in with 11 off the bench.

During Tech’s Three-Game Winning Streak . . .

oThe Yellow Jackets have outscored their opponents by an average of 79-57.

oThe Jackets have posted their two lowest scoring yields of the season (46 vs. Florida State, 50 vs. Clemson).

oThe Jackets have allowed their three opponents an average of 19 field goals per game and 35.6 percent from the floor (57-of-160).

oThe three opponents have combined to shoot 29.2 percent from three-point range. FSU and Clemson were a collective 7-of-41.

oTech has outrebounded all three teams by an average of four per game.

oTech has averaged almost 12 steals and four blocks while forcing 17 turnovers per game.

oTech has shot 47.2 percent (83-176) from the field, and 43.4 percent (33-76) from three-point range.

oTech has outscored the opponent in five of the six halves (UNC led 35-34 at halftime Saturday). Tech outscored FSU 40-19 in the second half, North Carolina 52-39 in the second half and Clemson 44-24 in the first half.

Tech Trends and Anomalies

oTech followed seven straight losses against ACC opponents by posting its largest victory margin ever against an ACC team with its 77-46 win over Florida State.

oTech has limited its last three opponents to 35.6 percent shooting from the field. In its first seven ACC games, all losses, Tech allowed 49.4 percent.

oTech is 9-1 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The only loss: NC State. Tech is 1-12 when the opponent shoots a higher percentage.

oTech has attempted more field goals than every ACC opponent thus far except Duke. Overall, Tech has tried as many or more field goals than 20 of its 23 opponents this season.

oConversely, Tech has attempted more free throws than its opponent in only eight games, and has won six of those.

oBefore shooting 51.9 percent at Clemson, Tech went 28 straight games without hitting 50 percent in a game dating back to last Feb. 17 (50 percent vs. NC State).

oTech has yielded 50 percent shooting eight times this season, compared to just three times last year. Tech is 1-10 under Paul Hewitt when allowing an opponent to shoot 50 percent.

oTech has held eight opponents under 40 percent shooting this season, winning all of those games. Florida State, North Carolina and Clemson are Tech’s only ACC opponents this season to finish under 40 percent.

oTech has collected 10 or more steals in 10 games this season (including the last three in a row), beating last year’s total, and is averaging 8.8 steals per game (second in the ACC), compared with 7.9 per game a year ago. Tech averages 9.7 steals in ACC games.

oIn all 10 of Tech’s victories this season, the Yellow Jackets have outscored their opponent in the second half. Tech is 10-2 when doing so, losing only to Duke and Maryland.

oTech has shot 52.3 percent (58-of-111) in the second half of its last four games.

oTech has committed the same number or fewer turnovers than its opponent 13 times this season, but has won just seven of those games.

Tech in the Thrillerdome

Georgia Tech is playing its 46th season at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s, and the Jackets have a record of 452-157 (.741) 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 214-56 (.791) in its on-campus home.

Tech played its 600th men’s game in the facility on Nov. 28, defeating Wisconsin 62-61 after trailing by 20 in the second half. 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.

The Yellow Jackets evened this season’s home record at 6-6 after defeating North Carolina last Saturday. Tech has had only three losing marks at home since the Coliseum opened, in 1972-73 (6-7), 1973-74 (4-10) and 1980-81 (4-11).

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).

Lineup Shift Paying Off

Tech has settled on Tony Akins, Marvin Lewis, Clarence Moore, Ed Nelson and B.J. Elder for its starting lineup in each of the last five games, and Tech has outscored the five teams on average, 75-65.

Tech also limited those four teams to an average 40.6 percent (112-276) after allowing its first five ACC opponents 50.3 percent. Not coincidentally, 7-foot freshman Luke Schenscher returned from injury at the same time and has made a difference defensively in those games.

Facing a roster with five new scholarship players, head coach Paul Hewitt has used six different starting lineups this season, tinkering to find that right combination or match up better against its opponent. Akins and Lewis are the only players to have started every game this season.

Nine different players have started games this season, and seven have started an ACC game.

Despite who starts the game, however, Hewitt is still using a 10-man rotation with each member averaging 10 minutes a game or more.

Taking Care of the Ball

Georgia Tech has done a much better job of handling the ball over the past month. Its primary ballhandlers, Tony Akins and B.J. Elder, have combined for just eight miscues in 164 minutes in the last three games.

Akins logged his fourth zero-turnover game in the last two years against Florida State, and has just four in the last three games in 107 minutes.

As a team since its Jan. 9 game at Duke, Tech has committed just 12.9 turnovers per game in seven games. Tech committed a season-low eight each against IUPUI and Cornell, had just nine against North Carolina and 10 each against Virginia and Florida State.

Tech averaged 19.3 turnovers over its first 12 games, including three games with more than 20.

Akins Still Leads ACC in 3-Pt. Shooting

Tony Akins, who made his 109th career start vs. Clemson, has been Georgia Tech’s most consistent offensive player, scoring in double digits in 20 of 23 games and leading the Jackets in scoring at 16.1 points per game (8th in the ACC) while averaging 5.7 assists (5th in the ACC).

Akins’ 28 points against North Carolina was his most since scoring 28 against Maryland on Feb. 6 of last year. His only higher game was a 33-point outburst against Florida State during his sophomore season.

Akins has just four turnovers in his last three games with 17 assists (107 minutes), including a zero-turnover game in 34 minutes against FSU.

Akins is the only ACC player to rank in the top 10 in scoring and top 5 in assists. In 10 ACC games, Akins has averaged 17.0 points and 6.1 assists per game.

The 5-11 senior has averaged 17.8 points and 5.8 assists in four games since being held to two points against Virginia. He ranks second in the ACC in three-point percentage (41.4) and leads the league three-point field goals per game (3.26).

Akins is averaging career-bests in most offensive categories, including scoring, assists and shooting. His 5.7 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 after never posting one his first three seasons.

He is shooting 80.7 percent from the free throw line, which would rank 5th in the ACC with enough attempts.

On the Rebound

When Tony Akins doesn’t score a three, he usually responds in a big way.

oAfter not hitting one against Virginia a week ago, he has responded with 71 points, 23 assists and 14 treys in four games.

oAfter missing out from behind the arc against IUPUI, Akins went on a five-game tear in qhich he averaged 19.4 points and hit 20 of 35 three-point attempts (57.1 percent).

oLast year after going scoreless against Clemson last season, Akins averaged 18.1 points and hit 46.6 percent of his threes the rest of the season.

oAs a sophomore, Akins went 0-2 with nine points against Virginia. In the final eight games of that season, he hit 45.7 percent of his threes and 13.5 points, including a 33-point performance against Florida State in which he sank 9 of 14 three-point attempts.

Akins’ Career Numbers

oTony Akins has moved past all-America Mark Price into fifth place on the all-time Tech list for assists with 515. He needs 24 to pass Brian Oliver for fourth place.

oAkins also ranks seventh in career steals with 153, and needs 14 to pass Kenny Anderson (168, 1990-91) for sixth place.

oHe has 1,490 career points, jumping to 15th place in Tech history after beginning the year in 28th. He needs 8 to pass Kenny Anderson (1,497) for 14th place.

Practicing “Schenscher-ship”

Luke Schenscher, who missed 12 games with a broken bone in his foot, has made a profound impact since returning to action for Georgia Tech against Virginia.

The 7-foot freshman has strengthened Tech’s interior defense to the point where he has helped the Jackets allow just 35.6 percent shooting in the last three games.

Offensively, Schenscher has averaged 4.8 points and hit 11 of 15 field goal attempts in five games. He earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors Monday after playing key roles in Tech’s wins over Florida State and North Carolina.

Each of Schenscher’s entries and exits from games at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, as well as his baskets and blocks, are greeted by the home crowd’s chants of “Loooook.”

Schenscher averaged 3.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in six games before breaking the third metatarsal bone in his left foot on Nov. 29. Tech played the ensuing 12 games with no player taller than 6-8 and nine healthy scholarship players. He has grown to 240 pounds since arriving at Tech weighing 214.

The Full Nelson

Freshman Ed Nelson has steadily grown more comfortable in recent games, giving the Yellow Jackets some inside scoring presence and solid defense, almost always against taller players.

Beginning with Tech’s first meeting with Duke on Jan. 10, the 6-7 rookie has averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds in Tech’s last eight games. Though he has posted just one double-digit rebound game since Nov. 19 (11 Saturday against North Carolina), he has been consistent on the glass.

He has made 36 of 67 field goal tries (53.7 percent) in those games combined. In his first 15 games, he had just three double-digit scoring games. He has also gotten to the free throw line for 37 attempts, making 23 for 62.2 percent, a vast improvement over his first 15 games (46.5 percent).

Nelson tops ACC freshmen in rebound average (7.0) and ranks ninth overall. In ACC games, his 7.0 rebounds per game ranks seventh, and he leads Tech in field goal percentage (52.7) against league foes.

Tech Getting More of Moore

Head coach Paul Hewitt has called Clarence Moore his most important player when the 6-5 sophomore is at his best. The Yellow Jackets have seen Moore at his best lately.

Moore has scored in double digits in six of the last seven games and eight of the last 10. In the last nine games, Moore has averaged 11.9 points and 6.1 rebounds and shot 76.5 percent (26-of-34) from the free throw line and 44.6 percent (41-of-92) from the floor in the last 10 games.

“Mo”, as he is known, has been a key defender as well, averaging more steals per minute than any of his teammates, including four each against Virginia and FSU. He had a season-high 13 rebounds Wednesday at Clemson.

Moore’s top scoring game this season was a career-high 20 points with 7 assists against Syracuse, which earned him Tech’s only ACC Player of the Week honor this season.

Moore is Tech’s third-leading scorer overall and its third-leading rebounder. In ACC games, the Norco, La., native averages 10.8 points and shoots 45.7 percent from the floor.

Like an Elder

He is only a freshman, but he’s beginning to play more like an Elder, B.J. Elder, that is. The 6-3 rookie from Madison, Ga., has scored in double figures nine times in Georgia Tech’s last 13 games, including 31 points in 34 minutes of play in Tech wins over North Carolina and Clemson.

Elder played just 16 minutes Wednesday at Clemson before fouling out, but led all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor (3-of-5 from three-point range) with three assists.

Head coach Paul Hewitt first inserted Elder into the starting lineup for Tech’s Jan. 10 game at Duke, and Elder responded with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting with two assists before fouling out. He has also started the last five games, averaging 11.0 points and 2.3 assists and shooting 53.3 percent from the floor (6-of-11 on threes).

Marv on the Mark

Marvin Lewis has established himself as one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC, hitting 43.6 percent of his attempts this season, which leads the ACC.

The 6-4 sophomore has gone 18-for-40 from behind the arc in the last seven games (45.0 percent).

He also is one of the ACC’s top marksmen from the foul line, hitting 88.2 percent from the stripe (third in the ACC). He hit 8-of-9 in Tech’s first meeting with Clemson and has had three games where he was 6-for-6 (Illinois, Davidson, Wofford).

Over his last 12 games, he has hit 90.2 percent from the stripe (37-41), and 9-for-9 in his last six games.

A Balanced Attack

Only two Yellow Jackets, Tony Akins (16.1 ppg) and Marvin Lewis (12.6 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 12 of the last 17 games.

Five Tech players – Tony Akins (17.0), Marvin Lewis (11.2), Clarence Moore (10.8), Ed Nelson (10.2), B.J. Elder (10.1) – average in double digits in conference games. Tech and Duke are the only ACC teams who can make that claim.

Nine different Yellow Jackets have scored in double figures at least once this season.

Overall, Tech has averaged 77.2 points per game this season, about two points per game better than last season and fifth-best in the ACC. The Jackets rank second in the ACC in three-point percentage (38.0) and rank fourth in free throw percentage (68.8).

Offense Running Smoothly

Georgia Tech has found consistency and balance in its offense since December began, averaging 79.6 points in the last 17 games dating back to the ACC opener against North Carolina. Only twice since then has Tech scored less than 70 in a game (69 vs. Tulane and 65 vs. Virginia).

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, 86 vs. Cornell, 87 against Maryland and 86 against North Carolina.

Against the ACC, Tech has averaged 76.6 points (fourth in the ACC), and shot 39.6 percent from three-point range (third in the ACC).

Tech has outscored the average yield of each of its ACC opponents except Virginia (just two below), including the 87 against Maryland, which had given up 64.4 points per game before facing Tech.

Georgia Tech (10-13, 3-7) vs. #1/1 Duke (21-1, 9-1)February 9, 2002 o 2 p.m.Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald's Center o Atlanta, Ga.

TV: ABC (WSB, Ch. 2 in Atlanta), Brent Musberger, pbp, Dick Vitale, color Radio: WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1), Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 10-13, 3-7 ACC (H: 6-6, A: 1-5, N: 3-2) Series vs. Duke: Duke leads, 48-20 Vs. Duke at AMC: Duke leads, 15-11 Vs. Duke since joining ACC: Duke leads, 36-16 Last meeting: Jan. 10, Duke d. Tech, 104-79, at Durham Head Coach Paul Hewitt: 93-53 (.637), 5th season overall 27-26 (.509), 2nd season at Tech Last game: Feb. 6, Tech d. Clemson, 74-50, at Clemson Next game: Feb. 13, at Maryland [ESPN2], 7:30 p.m.

Probable Starters F 1 B.J. Elder 6-3 Fr. 9.6 ppg 2.0 rpg F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 9.5 ppg 5.5 rpg C 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 8.1 ppg 7.0 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 16.1 ppg 5.7 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 12.6 ppg 4.2 rpg

Top Reserves C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 4.1 ppg 5.0 rpg F 33 Halston Lane 6-5 So. 7.2 ppg 3.2 rpg F 55 Anthony McHenry 6-6 Fr. 1.8 ppg 1.2 rpg F 2 Isma’il Muhammad 6-5 Fr. 6.9 ppg 3.4 rpg C 12 Luke Schenscher 7-0 Fr. 4.2 ppg 3.0 rpg

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