Nov. 11, 2003
ATLANTA – After averaging 106 points in two exhibition victories, Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team opens its regular-season at 7 p.m. Tuesday night with a first-round Pre-Season NIT contest against Louisiana-Lafayette at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center.
Tickets for the game are $20 each and will be on sale at the Coliseum. Radio coverage of the game is on WQXI-AM (790), and ESPN will televise the contest nationally. The winner of the game will meet either Hofstra or Marist on Thursday night. Tech must win two games to advance to the Nov. 26 semi-finals at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Yellow Jackets received offensive contributions in its two exhibition wins from the likely sources of 6-4 senior guard Marvin Lewis, who led Tech by averaging 18.5 points, and 6-4 junior guard B.J. Elder, who averaged 14.5 points. But Tech’s offense also was fueled by 6-6 junior forward Isma’il Muhammad (18.0 points per game) and 7-1 junior center Luke Schenscher (16.5 ppg, 10.5 rebounds per game).
As a team, Tech shot 51.9 percent from the floor and scored 108 of its 212 total points in the paint. Muhammad and Schenscher each shot better than 54 percent for the two games.
For both games, head coach Paul Hewitt employed a starting five of Jack, Lewis and Elder across the backcourt, Schenscher in the post and 6-7 junior Anthony McHenry (5.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg) at power forward.
“We still had too many turnovers (in Monday’s 112-75 exhibition win), but we came through the exhibitions healthy,” said Hewitt. “In preparation for this game, we concentrated on some things defensively, and we did those things. Now it’s just a matter of getting six good practices in and clean some things up.”
The teams are meeting for the first time ever, but Hewitt and Lafayette coach Jessie Evans have met once before, with the Ragin’ Cajuns defeating Hewitt’s Siena team, 71-54, in 1999.
“They have some outstanding outside shooters,” said Hewitt. “They upset Mississippi State last year, so they’re good. In my only other encounter with Jessie Evans, we got beat pretty bad, so I’ve got nothing but respect for him.”
All games in the Preseason NIT games are being played under experimental rules, in which the three-point line will be at 20 feet, 6 inches, and the foul lane is trapezoidal. Both elements are part of international basketball rules, and the new three-point distance has been approved for all games starting in 2004-05.