ATLANTA (Nov. 29) – Coming off a solid performance in the Great Alaska Shootout in which is reached the championship game, Georgia Tech will host Michigan Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Philips Arena in the first ACC-Big Ten Challenge, a two-day event featuring all nine Atlantic Coast Conference schools meeting nine Big Ten opponents.
The game, which is being televised nationally on ESPN, will be the first college basketball game to be played in the new Philips Arena. The arena was built on the site of the old Omni, host of the 1977 NCAA Final Four.
Tech is 3-1, its only loss coming against 11th-ranked Kansas (84-70) in the final of the Shootout. The Jackets have beaten Mercer (91-79), Grambling State (100-88) and Washington (82-65). Michigan is 3-0 with victories over Oakland (82-62), Detroit (66-62) and Western Michigan (93-78).
“We’re looking forward to playing a team like Michigan, which has a long and successful basketball tradition in the Big Ten,” said Cremins. “Brian Ellerbe has brought in some great recruits and is bringing his program up. It will be a tough game for us.”
The Yellow Jackets have five starters averaging in double figures, led by a pair of pre-season all-ACC choices in 7-0 senior forward Jason Collier (Springfield, Ohio) and 6-11 junior center Alvin Jones (Lakeland, Fla.).
Collier is averaging 19.2 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, both team highs. He also leads Tech in field goal percentage (56.0) and free throw percentage (83.3). Jones averages 14.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while shooting 55.9 percent from the floor and blocking 2.5 shots per game.
The rest of Tech’s starting lineup includes 5-11 sophomore point guard Tony Akins (Lilburn, Ga.), 6-3 junior guard Shaun Fein (Centerville, Mass.) and 6-6 senior forward Jason Floyd (Hampton, Ga.).
Akins has started fast this season, averaging 12.3 points per game, third on the team, with 6.8 assists and a 2.7-1 assist-turnover ratio. He has been Tech’s top three-point marksman with a 45.8-percent success rate. Floyd is next with 11.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, and Fein averages 10.2 points and 3.8 assists with just eight turnovers in four games.
Tech’s bench may be the deepest of the Bobby Cremins era with 5-10 junior T.J. Vines (Woodstock, Ga.) in the backcourt, 6-7 junior Jon Babul (North Attleboro, Mass.) in the frontcourt and 6-4 freshman Clarence Moore (Norco, La.) on the wing.
The trio averages between 14 and 18 minutes per game and has combined for more than 15 points per game.
“We found out a lot about ourselves in Alaska,” said Cremins. “We did some good things. We played very well against Washington and hung in there against a very good Kansas team. Tony Akins has done a great job running the show. He only scored six points against Washington, but it was one of the best games of his career.”
Michigan, coached by Brian Ellerbe in his third season, was 12-19 last season and 5-11 in the Big Ten. The Wolverines have four players averaging in double figures, led by 6-6 freshman guard Jamal Crawford (18.3), 6-4 sophomore guard Leon Jones (11.3), and 6-7 freshman forward LaVell Blanchard (11.0), all of whom are in the starting lineup. Josh Asselin (8.7), a 6-11 junior center, and Kevin Gaines (8.0), a 6-4 freshman guard, are the other two starters. Gavin Groninger, a 6-5 freshman reserve, averages 11.3 points per game.
The Series vs. Michigan
Georgia Tech and Michigan have met five times in men’s basketball, all on neutral courts, with the Yellow Jackets winning three of them. The teams last met on Nov. 24, 1995 in the third place game of the Pre-Season NIT, with the Jackets winning 77-61. The Jackets and Wolverines have met twice in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic, with Michigan winning 80-70 in 1993 and 49-44 in 1985. The teams also met in 1966 and 1971, Tech prevailing both times.
The ACC vs. The Big Ten
The ACC holds a 109-87 (.556) mark against the Big Ten since the formation of the league in 1953. The ACC, with 247 wins, and the Big Ten, with 227, are the two winningest conferences in NCAA Tournament history. In the last decade, the two leagues have accounted for four NCAA Championships and four runners-up.
Jackets Reach Final of Great Alaska Shootout
For the second straight year, Georgia Tech reached the final of a Thanksgiving week tournament and lost in the championship game to a ranked opponent.
The Yellow Jackets finished second in last week’s Great Alaska Shootout, defeating Grambling State, 100-88, and Washington, 82-65, before falling to 11th-ranked Kansas in the final, 84-70. Tech’s win over Washington avenged a championship game loss to the Huskies in last year’s Big Island Classic.
Jason Collier recorded a pair of double-doubles and averaged 20.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in the three games, earning a spot on the all-tournament team. Alvin Jones also made the all-tournament team after averaging 13 points and 6.3 rebounds. All five Tech starters averaged in double figures for the tournament, including Tony Akins (11.0), Shaun Fein (10.7) and Jason Floyd (10.7).
All Five Starters Scoring in Double Figures
All five Georgia Tech starters have averaged in double figures in points through four games, led by Jason Collier at 19.2 per game, Alvin Jones at 14.2, Tony Akins at 12.3, Jason Floyd at 11.7 and Shaun Fein at 10.2.
Collier scored a season-high 27 points against Grambling State and 22 against Washington, while Jones led the way against Mercer with 18 and Akins paced the Jackets against Kansas with 17.
Jackets Hitting the Boards
Only Kansas, led by 7-1 Eric Chenowith, has been able to beat Georgia Tech on the boards in four games this season (42-34). The Yellow Jackets are outrebounding their opponents collectively, 41.3-35, which includes a commanding 40.7-32.3 edge in the three Great Alaska Shootout games.
Jason Collier has paced the Jackets on the board thus far with 10.0 per game, followed by Alvin Jones at 7.5 per game and Jon Babul at 5.3.
Tech averaged 36.9 rebounds per game last season.
Akins Makes Solid Sophomore Start
ophomore point guard Tony Akins has gotten off to a solid start, averaging 12.3 points and 6.8 assists while committing just 10 turnovers in Tech’s first four games. He has hit 11 of his 24 three-point attempts, making him Tech’s top marksman at 45.8 percent.
The Lilburn, Ga., native posted a season-high 17 points with five assists and just two turnovers against 11th-ranked Kansas in the final of the Great Alaska Shootout. He had six points and seven assists against Washington, 10 points and seven assists versus Grambling State, and in the opener against Mercer, he scored 16 points, including 4-for-5 three-pointers, with eight assists and just two turnovers.
Collier on the Mark
Forward Jason Collier has gotten off to a hot start in the Yellow Jackets’ first four games. The 7-0 senior is shooting 56 percent from the field and 83.3 percent from the free throw line to average 19.2 points per game. He is also averaging 10.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
Last season, Collier hit 32 of 90 three-pointers, but so far this season, he has attempted just five shots from beyond the arc and connected on one.
Collier Faces Familiar Foe
Jason Collier is facing Michigan for the third time in his career, having met the Wolverines twice while a freshman at Indiana.
The 7-footer scored only four points in 11 minutes the first time the Hoosiers played Michigan, but rebounded with 17 points and nine boards in the second meeting.