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Tech Men Visit No. 3 Maryland

Feb. 11, 2002

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech completes back-to-back encounters with top-5 teams Wednesday night with a nationally-televised visit to No. 3 Maryland in the Yellow Jackets’ final game at venerable Cole Field House.

ESPN2 will televise the game nationally, with local raido coverage on WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1), WSNY-FM (100.1) and WLKQ-FM (102.3).

Tech (10-14, 3-8 ACC), which had three-game winning streak stopped Saturday in a 95-63 home-court loss to No. 1 Duke, remains in a tie for sixth place with Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings. Maryland (19-3, 9-1 ACC) kept pace with the Blue Devils Sunday with a 92-77 victory over North Carolina and has won six consecutive games.

“The first half of the Duke game gave us some confidence that we can play with the No. 1 team in the country,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. “If we’re going to go into Cole Field House and compete, we have to play with confidence. They’re phenomenal in that building. We know their pressure is going to be turned up, so we have to take care of the ball and really attack, just the way we did the first half against Duke.

“We’ll have to see how the game evolves. We made some good decisions in the last game that gave us a chance to win. I’m not going into this thinking we have to do this or do that, because they’re so well balanced.”

Leading the way for the Yellow Jackets is point guard Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.), who ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring (15.9), fifth in assists (5.6), first in three-point percentage (.405) and second in three-point field goals per game (3.13). Off-guard Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.), making his second appearance in his home state, is Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures for the season with 12.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He leads Tech in three-point percentage (42.7) and is third in the ACC in free throw accuracy (88.2).

“[Marvin] worked very hard in the off-season to get himself in better shape,” said Hewitt. “He was in good shape last year, but he has improved his athleticism and his conditioning. He’s learning how to score in different ways. He’s going to the foul line a little more than last year.”

Tech’s starting lineup for the last six 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.), who was named ACC Rookie of the Week on Monday, at center.

Moore, who has shot 46.2 percent from three-point range and averaged 10.4 points in ACC games, averages 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds overall for the season. Nelson has played very well of late (17 points against Duke, 10.8 ppg vs. the ACC), averaging 8.5 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds, which also tops all ACC freshmen. Elder, who scored a season-high 19 points at Clemson, averages 9.4 points.

Tech goes five deep on the bench, which provides about 30 percent of the Jackets’ scoring: 6-5 sophomore wingman Halston Lane (Oak Ridge, Tenn.), 7.0 points per game, 6-8 sophomore center Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.), 3.9 points and 4.9 rebounds, 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), who averages 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds, and 6-5 guard Anthony McHenry (Fr., Birmingham, Ala.), 2.0 ppg. Seven-foot freshman center Luke Schenscher (Hope Forest, South Australia), who missed 12 games during December and January with a broken foot, averages 4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds and is shooting 57.9 percent from the floor.

Tech Series vs. Maryland

oAfter 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 30-26 all-time lead in the series.

oIn the teams’ first meeting this year on Jan. 13, Maryland outlasted the Jackets, 92-87, at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Tech nearly overcame a 13-point halftime deficit by outscoring the Terps, 52-44, in the second half. But the Jackets missed 15 of 40 free throws and could not overcome Maryland’s 51.9-percent shooting and 41-30 rebounding edge. Tony Akins led Tech with 24 points (5-9 3FG) and 8 assists.

oIn each of the last eight meetings, Maryland has been ranked in the top 25, while Tech has been unranked. The Terps’ No. 3 ranking is the highest ranking they have held when Tech faced them since Dec. 10, 1975 (No. 2 by AP).

oMaryland defeated Tech, 93-80, last Jan. 5 in the teams’ last meeting at Cole Field House. Wednesday night will be the 27th and final meeting between the teams in the building, where Tech has a 10-16 record. The Terrapins have won the last seven in a row in Cole against Tech, whose last victory in the facility was an 83-71 triumph on Feb. 5, 1994. In those seven losses, the average Terp margin of victory has been 14.7 points, the closest game being 12 points.

oMaryland is one of just two ACC opponents against whom Georgia Tech has a winning record since it joined the league in 1979, with a 30-22 record. Virginia is the other (28-25).

oMaryland won the first nine meetings ever between the two teams, and has won 10 of the last 12. In between, Tech won 28 of 35, including 10 in a row from 1984-88.

Four of Last Six on Road

Georgia Tech has just two home games left – Feb. 20 vs. NC State and Feb. 27 against No. 16 Wake Forest, while the remaining four games come at No. 3 Maryland (Wednesday), Saint Louis (Saturday), No. 6 Virginia (Feb. 23) and Florida State (Mar. 2). The Jackets are 6-7 at home this year and in danger of posting only their fourth losing season ever at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

Last Time Out

Georgia Tech snapped a three-game winning streak by dropping a 95-63 decision at home to top-ranked Duke. The Blue Devils shot 62.5 percent in the second half and 55.6 percent for the game, while Tech faded from its best shooting effort of the season (51.9 percent) at Clemson to its second-poorest of the year (35.5 percent) against Duke.

Ed Nelson scored 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting to lead the Jackets, while Tony Akins scored 10 but failed to hit a three-point shot in four attempts. Luke Schenscher had perhaps his best all-around game of the season with 9 points (3-7 FG), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 4 steals.

Tech Trends and Anomalies

oTech’s freshmen and sophomores have accounted for 79 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ points scored and 90 percent of the team’s rebounds.

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 is 9-1 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The only loss: NC State. Tech is 1-13 when the opponent shoots a higher percentage.

oTech has attempted more field goals than every ACC opponent thus far except its first meeting with Duke. Overall, Tech has tried as many or more field goals than 21 of its 24 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 nine times this season, compared to just three times last year. Tech is 1-11 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 four in a row), and is averaging 8.9 steals per game (second in the ACC), compared with 7.9 per game a year ago. At the present pace, which is the best average in its history, Tech will finish with 276 steals for the season, which would be the second best total in its history. Tech averages 9.8 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 committed the same number or fewer turnovers than its opponent 14 times this season, but has won just seven of those games.

Lineup Shift Pays 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 six games. Before its 95-63 loss to No. 1 Duke Saturday, Tech had outscored the first five teams on average, 75-65.

Tech also limited those five 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 Better 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 15 miscues in 230 minutes in the last four 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 13.5 turnovers per game in eight 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 110th career start vs. Duke, has been Georgia Tech’s most consistent offensive player, scoring in double digits in 21 of 24 games and scoring 20 or more eight times.

The 5-11 senior leads the Jackets in scoring at 15.9 points per game (8th in the ACC) while averaging 5.6 assists (5th in the ACC). He leads the ACC in three-point percentage (40.5) and ranks second three-point field goals per game (3.13). He is shooting 79.4 percent from the free throw line, which would rank 5th in the ACC with enough attempts.

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 is the only ACC player to rank in the top 10 in scoring and top 5 in assists. In 11 ACC games, Akins has averaged 16.4 points and 5.8 assists per game.

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 after never posting one his first three seasons.

Akins’ Career Numbers

oTony Akins has moved past all-America Mark Price into fifth place on the all-time Tech list for assists with 518. He needs 21 to pass Brian Oliver (538 from 1987-90) for fourth place.

oAkins also ranks seventh in career steals with 158, and needs 11 to pass Kenny Anderson (168, 1990-91) for sixth place.

oHe has exactly 1,500 career points, jumping to 14th place in Tech history after beginning the year in 28th. He surpassed all-America Kenny Anderson (1,497 points) on the career scoring list on Saturday with the former Tech point guard in attendance, and needs 88 points to pass John Salley (1,587 from 1983-86) and catch Bruce Dalrymple (1,588 from 1984-87).

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 40.7 percent shooting in the last four games, and just 44.9 percent from inside the three-point line.

Offensively, Schenscher has averaged 5.5 points and hit 14 of 22 field goal attempts in six games. He earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors Feb. 4 after playing key roles in Tech’s wins over Florida State and North Carolina. He leads Tech in field goal percentage at 57.9 percent (63.6 in ACC games).

He put together his best all-around game of the season Saturday against Duke, matching his season high of 9 points with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocked shots and 4 steals.

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 weeks, 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 12.4 points and 7.0 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.

Nelson scored 17 points Saturday to lead Tech against Duke, and had 18 (6-9 FG, 6-10 FT) in the first meeting between Tech and Maryland.

He has made 42 of 78 field goal tries (53.8 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 44 attempts, making 28 for 63.6 percent, a vast improvement over his first 15 games (46.5 percent).

Nelson tops ACC freshmen in rebound average (6.8) and ranks 10th overall. He has a field goal percentage of 52.9 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 eight games and eight of the last 11. In the last 11 games, Moore has averaged 11.3 points and 6.0 rebounds and shot 76.5 percent (26-of-34) from the free throw line.

“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 Feb. 6 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 fourth-leading scorer overall and its third-leading rebounder. In ACC games, the Norco, La., native averages 10.3 points and shoots 44.8 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 14 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. Elder has scored more points per minute than any other Tech player (0.49). 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 six games, averaging 10.2 points and 2.0 assists (8-of-16 on threes).

Marv on the Mark

Marvin Lewis has established himself as one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC, hitting 42.7 percent of his attempts this season, which would lead the ACC except he falls four treys shy of the ACC minimum. The 6-4 sophomore has gone 18-for-42 from behind the arc in the last eight games (42.9 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 13 games, he has hit 90.2 percent from the stripe (37-41), and 9-for-9 in his last seven games.

Spreading the Scoring

Only two Yellow Jackets, Tony Akins (15.9 ppg) and Marvin Lewis (12.2 ppg), are averaging in double-figures for the season, but Georgia Tech has been balanced offensively in recent weeks, placing at least four players in double figures in 12 of the last 18 games.

Four Tech players – Tony Akins (16.4), Ed Nelson (10.8), Marvin Lewis (10.4), Clarence Moore (10.3) – average in double digits in conference games, while B.J. Elder (9.7) has bordered on double digits all season. Duke is the only ACC team with five players averaging in double figures in league play.

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

Overall, Tech has averaged 76.6 points per game this season, an improvement over last season and fifth-best in the ACC. The Jackets rank second in the ACC in three-point percentage (37.6) and rank fifth in free throw percentage (68.3).

Roster Turnover

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 regular. 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 (96 out of a possible 120) than any other ACC team, almost completely opposite of last year, when Tech led the ACC last season in senior starts.

Dialing Long Distance

Georgia Tech owns the third-longest active streak in the nation for consecutive games with at least one three-point field goal. Tech’s streak has reached 465 games. The last team to hold the Jackets without a three-point field goal was Virginia in the 1987 ACC Tournament.

UNLV, Vanderbilt and Princeton are the only schools to have at least one three-pointer in every game since the rule was put in for the 1986-87 season.

Consecutive Games Scoring a Three-Point Field Goal (through Feb. 11)495-UNLV, Nov. 26, 1986 to present495-Vanderbilt, Nov. 28, 1986 to present465-Georgia Tech, March 13, 1987 to present463-Kentucky, Nov. 28, 1988 to present431-Princeton, Nov. 19, 1986 to present
Georgia Tech (10-14, 3-8) vs. #3/3 Maryland (19-3, 9-1)February 13, 2002 o 7:30 p.m. o Cole Field House o College Park, Md.

TV: ESPN2, Mike Patrick, pbp, Brad Daugherty, color Radio: WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1), WSNY-FM (100.1), WLKQ-FM (102.3), Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 10-14, 3-8 ACC (H: 6-7, A: 1-5, N: 3-2) Series vs. Maryland: Tech leads, 30-26 Vs. Maryland at Cole Field House: Maryland leads, 16-10 Vs. Maryland since joining ACC: Tech leads, 30-22 Last meeting: Jan. 13, Maryland d. Tech, 92-87, in Atlanta Head Coach Paul Hewitt: 93-54 (.633), 5th season overall 27-27 (.500), 2nd season at Tech Last game: Feb. 9, Duke d. Tech, 95-63, in Atlanta Next game: Feb. 16, at Saint Louis, 1 p.m., ABC

Probable Starters F 1 B.J. Elder 6-3 Fr. 9.4 ppg 1.9 rpg F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 9.3 ppg 5.5 rpg C 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 8.5 ppg 6.8 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 15.9 ppg 5.6 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 12.2 ppg 4.1 rpg

Top Reserves C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 3.9 ppg 4.9 rpg F 33 Halston Lane 6-5 So. 7.0 ppg 3.1 rpg F 55 Anthony McHenry 6-6 Fr. 2.0 ppg 1.3 rpg F 2 Isma’il Muhammad 6-5 Fr. 6.9 ppg 3.3 rpg C 12 Luke Schenscher 7-0 Fr. 4.6 ppg 3.2 rpg

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