Dec. 18, 2009
ATLANTA – Looking to begin its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule on the right foot, Georgia Tech opens its conference schedule Sunday by hosting Florida State at 5:30 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at the Henry F. McCamish, Jr., Basketball Complex.
Tech is 8-1 following a 65-53 homecourt win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff Wednesday night, the Yellow Jackets’ sixth consecutive victory since an opening-round loss to Dayton in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Following Sunday’s game, the Jackets host Kennesaw State Tuesday afternoon before taking the holiday break.
Florida State (9-2) comes to Atlanta with three straight wins, including a 76-72 decision over Auburn Thursday night. The Seminoles have lost only to Florida and Ohio State, both on the road.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-1, 0-0 ACC) vs.
Florida State Seminoles (9-2, 0-0 ACC)
Date: Sunday, December 20, 2009
Tipoff: 5:30 p.m. Eastern time
Site: Alexander Memorial Coliseum at the Henry F. McCamish, Jr., Basketball Complex
Television: Fox Sports Net (Bob Rathbun play-by-play, Dan Bonner color)
Radio: Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, live on flagship station WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and WYAY-FM (106.7). Wes Durham play-by-play, Randy Waters color.
Satellite Radio: XM ch. 191, Sirius ch. 219
On the web: Audio and live stats available at Ramblinwreck.com.
Tickets: $40, available at www.Ramblinwreck.com/tickets
Head coach Paul Hewitt’s team has lost its ACC opener each of the last three years, including home defeats to Virginia (88-84 in overtime) last year and FSU (66-64) in 2007-08. Tech last opened its league schedule with a win in 2005-06 against Virginia.
The Jackets have, on the strength of strong inside play, shot the ball well early in the season, hitting 49.6 percent from the floor to rank third in the ACC. Tech has exceeded 50 percent in five of nine games, and it has outscored its opponents by an average of 17.3 points a game. They have struggled, however, with turnovers, committing 16.6 per game.
Tech will play without sophomore guard Iman Shumpert for the fourth straight game as he recovers from surgery to repair a damaged meniscus in his right knee. Senior forward Zachery Peacock is expected to play Sunday after missing the UAPB contest with a bruised right knee.
The Yellow Jackets began the season ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll, and 20th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll. After falling out briefly, the Jackets are now No. 22 in the AP poll and No. 15 in the coaches poll. Tech jumped six spots in the coaches poll that came out Monday despite not having played a game last week.
Series With Florida State
> Florida State leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech, 32-27, but Tech has won eight of the last 13 meetings and 17 of the last 28, including a season sweep of the Seminoles in 2006-07. FSU won the only regular-season meeting between the two teams in each of the last two years, however.
> Since FSU joined the ACC, Tech is 17-18 against the Seminoles. Florida State won the first six in a row, Tech followed by winning five straight, and is 12-12 against the Seminoles since then.
> In those 35 games, 17 have been decided by four points or less, 25 by 10 points or less. One of those games went to double-overtime, which the Yellow Jackets won 111-108 on Feb. 11, 1999 in Tallahassee.
> The teams have split the regular-season series six of the last 11 years except the 2001-02, 2004-05 and 2006-07 seasons, when Tech won both games.
> Tech is 9-7 against FSU with Paul Hewitt as its head coach, and is 6-6 against Seminoles teams led by head coach Leonard Hamilton. Tech is 7-6 against Hamilton overall, with a victory over his Miami team in December of 1997.
> Tech is 16-13 against the Seminoles in Atlanta, all but one of those games at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
> Tech and Florida State were both members of the old Metro Conference from 1976-78, and the Seminoles won three of those four meetings.
> Florida State has won both ACC Tournament meetings between the schools, including a 64-62 win at the Georgia Dome in 2009.
Big Wins over USC and Chattanooga Highlight Seven-Game Streak
Georgia Tech returns home riding a seven-game winning streak, which includes a 79-53 win over Southern California, the Yellow Jackets’ only game against a “BCS Conference” team this year, and a 95-64 win over Chattanooga in the Jackets’ only true road game to date.
In Tech’s only loss, a 63-59 decision to Dayton, the Jackets blew a late seven-point lead and committed 26 turnovers.
Since then, Tech has averaged 79 points a game, outscored its opponents by an average of 17 points, shot 49.7 percent from the floor, posted a plus-1.1 assist turnover ratio and averaged 15.0 turnovers.
Tech’s opponents are shooting 34.2 percent from the floor and 24.4 percent from three-point range in that span.
Focus on the Bigs
There’s no question where the focus of Georgia Tech’s offensive plans rest, not to mention its opponents’ defensive schemes – post players Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors. They have been called the best front line in the ACC and one of the best in the nation.
Lawal, a 6-9 junior, and Favors, a 6-10 freshman, each posted a double-double Wednesday night in a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Lawal getting 15 points and a season-high 15 rebounds, and Favors scoring 15 with 11 boards. The duo took 27 shots between them, a season high.
Lawal has five double-doubles this year and ranks second in the ACC in field goal percentage (64.3 pct.), while Favors has double-doubles in each of his last three games and has shot 62.7 percent from the floor (fourth in the ACC).
They are Tech’s top two scorers and rebounders, combining to produce 38 percent of the Yellow Jackets scoring.
Paul Hewitt Comments
On Florida State: “They’re pretty good. You look at their defensive numbers, they’re holding people to 34 percent from the floor and 28 percent from three, but they’ve always been good defensively. They’ll be tough to score on, but we still have to show up and play the game. We’re going to have to play strong and smart.”
On Florida State struggles in recent games: “It’s not all about Florida State struggling, the other guys are trying too. I’m sure they’re struggling with trying to replace a player like Tony Douglas. He meant so much to them last season. They’re barely a third of the way through the schedule and they’re 9-2. I’m sure they’re making some adjustments to life without Tony.”
On Derrick Favors matching up against Florida State center Solomon Alabi: “I’m sure Derrick will be more alert than he was against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. I think Derrick is one of those guys that will rise to occasion. It’s good for him to play in a game like this nine games in. It’s not the first time he’ll go up against competition like this; he did against Dayton. I think he’ll respond well.”
On the fact that as many as 30 NBA scouts will be on hand to watch the game: “It’s the type of game that those guys are interested in seeing because it’s a matchup of big guys versus big guys. Florida State is long. It’s interesting, everybody keeps asking me about Derrick [Favors], while Gani [Lawal] has put together a player-of-the-year type year so far. Derrick deserves the attention because he’s playing well, but a guy like Gani Lawal is a guy who I thought at the beginning of the year was capable of winning ACC Player of the Year.”
On Iman Shumpert’s injury status: “He’s coming along really well. We hope to get him started back in to practice on Dec. 26th when we come back from Christmas break.”