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Tech Opens Two-Game Homestand With Florida State

Jan. 30, 2002

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech opens a two-game homestand this week by hosting Florida State Wednesday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center. The Yellow Jackets also host North Carolina at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Tech (7-13, 0-7 ACC) still seeks its first Atlantic Coast Conference victory, and comes into the game with six straight losses following an 87-74 defeat Saturday at No. 21 Wake Forest. The Seminoles (10-8, 3-4 ACC), who have beaten both Duke and North Carolina, come to Atlanta with two straight losses at the hands of No. 10 Virginia and No. 3 Maryland.

“We’re playing a quality Florida State team that beat Duke earlier this year,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. “They’re a very athletic team, the best offensive rebounding team in the conference. While we’re doing a better job of rebounding the basketball, that is something that is still a concern for us.

“Delvon Arrington does a great job for them. He’s the guy who makes them go, and we need to keep him under control. I think Tony Akins has the ability to do that, and if he can, we’ll be in good shape.”

Led by the backcourt tandem of 5-11 Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.) and 6-4 Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.), Tech continues to exhibit balance on offense with four players averaging in double figures in ACC games, and ranks second in the ACC in three-point field goal percentage (37.1). The Jackets have struggled defensively, however, allowing 86.0 points a game and 49.4 percent shooting to league foes.

Akins, Tech’s point guard, ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring (16.0 points per game), fifth in assists (5.6 per game) and first in three-point percentage (41.9 percent). Lewis, Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures for the season with 12.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, ranks third in the ACC in free throw percentage (87.3). He has made 43.5 percent of his three-point attempts, but falls short of the ACC minimum for being ranked.

Tech’s starting lineup for the last two 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. Head coach Paul Hewitt has used six different starting lineups this season.

Moore, who has averaged 11.1 points in ACC games, averages 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds for the season. Nelson, who has put together an excellent five-game stretch beginning with Duke (14.6 points, 56.1 field goal percentage), averages 8.3 points and a team-leading 6.9 rebounds, which also tops all ACC freshmen. Elder, who has started the last two games, averages 9.2 points and has seven double-figure games in the last 10.

Tech goes five deep on the bench, led by 6-5 sophomore wingman Halston Lane (Oak Ridge, Tenn.), 7.4 points per game, and 6-8 sophomore center Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.), 4.7 points and 5.7 rebounds.

Also coming off the bench are 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), who averages 6.9 points and 3.1 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 3.5 points and 2.6 rebounds.

“We’re playing better for stretches, and we just need to sustain it,” said Hewitt. “In all of our games, we’ve come out of the gate pretty well, and start the second half in pretty good shape as well. We hit stretches in the middle of the half or the latter part of the half where we don’t make smart decisions.

“Ed’s clearly been one of the better freshmen in the ACC. He’s doing the things we felt he could do, rebounding and scoring in the low post. He’s giving it all defensively. B.J. Elder has worked himself into the starting lineup with his ability to handle the ball and make shots, and his athleticism defensively.”

Tech Series vs. Florida State

oGeorgia Tech has won nine of the last 15 meetings in its series with Florida State, but the Seminoles still hold a 26-19 lead in the all-time series which dates back to 1963.

oThe teams have split the regular-season series each of the past five years, with each team going 3-2 on its home court during that stretch. In that span, FSU also won the schools’ only ACC Tournament meeting in 2000.

oLast year, Tech took a 77-68 home-court victory behind a 26-point, 15-rebound effort from Alvin Jones. In Tallahassee, the Jackets shot a regular-season-low 25.4 percent in a 69-59 loss.

oSince FSU joined the ACC, the Seminoles have won 12 of 21 meetings, including the first six in a row. Tech followed by winning five straight, and is 5-6 against the Seminoles since then.

oIn those 21 games, 10 have been decided by four points or less, 13 by 10 points or less.

oThe teams are even at 11-11 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, including 5-5 since FSU joined the ACC. Tech has won the last two, with FSU’s last victory at the Thrillerdome coming on Jan. 9, 1999 by a 75-56 score.

oTech and Florida State were both members of the old Metro Conference from 1976-78, and the Seminoles won three of those four meetings.

Close But No Cigar

Four of Georgia Tech’s conference losses have come by seven points or fewer – North Carolina (83-77 in Chapel Hill, NC), Clemson (83-76), No. 3 Maryland (92-87) and No. 7 Virginia (69-65).

With the exception of a 25-point loss at Duke, Georgia Tech has challenged each opponent and had a chance late in each game.

oTech was within four points with 11:40 left in the game and trailed by just seven points at the 6-minute mark before Wake Forest pulled away Saturday in Winston-Salem.

oTech led for most of its game with Virginia, scoring the first eight points of the game and leading by as many as 10 points in the first half. Virginia rallied to take its first lead with 3:12 left and forced Tony Akins to miss a potential game-tying layup in the final seconds.

oTech held a 9-point lead over NC State at the 14:01 mark, and did not trail in its game with the Wolfpack until the 10:33 mark as poor shooting prevented the Jackets from staying in the game. Tech remained within 10 points as late as five minutes to go.

oAgainst Maryland, Tech trailed by 13 points at halftime, but shot 55.2 percent in the second half in rallying to within 85-83 and had possession of the ball in the final 30 seconds. But Juan Dixon stole the ball from Akins from behind and fed Chris Wilcox for a game-clinching dunk.

oAgainst Clemson, Tech also rallied from a double-digit deficit to trail by just three inside of five minutes, but Clemson put the game away on a long three-pointer by Edward Scott and free throws.

oTech led most of its game at North Carolina on Dec. 1, and was tied 77-77 at the 1:13 mark, before the Tar Heels scored the last six points on four free throws and a layup.

oEven against Duke, Tech scored the last 16 points of the game, a run not equaled by the Jackets in any other game this season.

Tech Trends and Anomalies

oFour of Tech’s last five opponents have been ranked 21st or higher in the Associated Press poll, three of them in the top seven. Tech’s schedule is ranked the 20th most difficult in the nation according to the Sagarin Index. Only Duke’s is rated tougher (13th) among ACC teams.

oTech is 6-1 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 17 of its 20 opponents this season.

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

oTech has not shot 50 percent in a game yet this season, and has not in 26 straight games 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 collected 10 or more steals in seven games this season, matching last year’s total, and is averaging 8.4 steals per game (third in the ACC), compared with 7.9 per game a year ago.

oIn all seven of Tech’s victories this season, the Yellow Jackets have outscored their opponent in the second half. Tech is 7-2 when doing so, losing only to Duke and Maryland.

oTech has committed the same number or fewer turnovers than its opponent 10 times this season, but has won just four of those games.

Akins Cools Off, But Still Leads ACC in 3-Pt. Shooting

Tony Akins, who made his 106th career start vs. Wake Forest, has been Georgia Tech’s most consistent offensive player, scoring in double digits in 17 of 20 games and leading the Jackets in scoring at 16.0 points per game (8th in the ACC) while averaging 5.6 assists (5th in the ACC).

Akins is the only ACC player to rank in the top 10 in scoring and top 5 in assists.

The 5-11 senior failed to sink a three-pointer and scored just two points against Virginia, but rebounded to knock down four treys and score 20 points Saturday at Wake Forest. Prior to the Virginia game, the 5-11 senior had been on a binge in which he hit 20 of 35 three-point attempts (57.1 percent) and 31 of 60 (51.7) overall, averaging 19.4 points over that stretch.

He remains at the top of the ACC in three-point percentage (41.9) and three-point field goals per game (3.25).

In seven ACC games, Akins has shot 43.5 percent from the floor and 43.1 percent from three-point range, averaging 17.0 points and 6.0 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.

He is shooting 77.8 percent from the free throw line, which would rank 6th 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 responded by scoring 20 points with four threes against Wake Forest.

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

Tony Akins ranks sixth in career assists (496), having passed Kenny Anderson for that spot in the Cornell game, and 8th in steals (144). He has 1,439 career points, jumping to 16th place in Tech history after beginning the year in 28th. He needs 21 points to move past Jim Wood (1,459 points, 1974-77) for 15th place.

The Full Nelson

Freshman Ed Nelson seems to have grown more comfortable in recent games, giving the Yellow Jackets some inside scoring presence almost always against taller players.

The 6-7 rookie has averaged 14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds in Tech’s last five outings against Duke, Maryland, NC State, Virginia and Wake Forest.

Nelson scored 14 points with nine rebounds against Duke, 18 and 8 against Maryland, 14 and 8 against State, 15 and 3 against Virginia and 12 and 8 against Wake Forest. He has made 28 of 49 field goal tries (57.1 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 25 attempts, making 17 for 68.0 percent, a vast improvement over his first 15 games (46.5 percent).

“We said before the season started that Ed Nelson was going to be one of our better rebounders and one of our better scorers,” said Hewitt. “Early in the year, he had a little bit of adjustment playing against some taller defenders. Instead of taking the ball at them as he was accustomed to, he shied away from contact, double-clutched a little on his shot. Now he seems to have smoothed that out, and he’s going right at people.”

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 more often lately.

Moore has scored in double digits in six of seven games, including 16 against Clemson, 11 against Maryland, 14 against NC State, 15 against Virginia and 14 against Wake Forest. He has made 44.1 percent of his field goals and averaged 6.1 rebounds in that stretch.

Not coincidentally, some of Moore’s best games have occurred when he has played aggressively on offense and gotten to the free throw line — against Penn (13 points, 3-6 FT), Syracuse (20 points, 6-7 FT), Davidson (13 points, 5-8 FT) and Maryland (11 points, 7-13 FT). He has made 71.4 percent of his attempts for the season.

After a two-game absence from the starting lineup, Clarence Moore got back in the lineup for Georgia (Dec. 9) and responded with a career-high 20 points with 7 assists against Syracuse, which earned him ACC co-Player of the Week honors, and a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) in the following game against Davidson.

Moore is Tech’s third-leading scorer overall and its third-leading rebounder. In ACC games, the Norco, La., native has hit 8 of 17 three-point attempts (47.1 percent), and averages 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds.

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 seven times in Georgia Tech’s last 10 games, including a 14-point effort in his second career start against Virginia.

Head coach Paul Hewitt has inserted Elder into the starting lineup three times in the last five games when he has wanted a smaller, quicker unit. The first time was at Duke on Jan. 10, and Elder responded with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting with two assists before fouling out.

Beginning Dec. 21 against Wofford, Elder has averaged 10.2 points, and has scored 9.1 points a game in conference play. His season high of 17 points came at North Carolina on Dec. 1.

A Balanced Attack

Only two Yellow Jackets, Tony Akins (16.0 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 10 of the last 14 games.

Four Tech players – Tony Akins (17.0), Ed Nelson (11.4), Clarence Moore (11.1), Marvin Lewis (10.6) – averaged in double digits in conference games, with B.J. Elder close at 9.1.

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

Overall, Tech has averaged 76.9 points per game this season, about two points per game better than last season, fifth in the ACC. The Jackets rank second in the ACC in three-point percentage (37.1) and rank fourth in free throw percentage (69.1).

They’re Not Booing, They’re Saying “Loooook”

Luke Schenscher, who missed 12 games with a broken bone in his foot, made a triumphant return to action against Virginia, scoring four points and blocking three shots in a three-minute first-half stint in Georgia Tech’s 69-65 loss to the Cavaliers.

The 7-foot center from Hope Forest, South Australia finished with six points and two rebounds, scoring his final bucket on a left-handed hook shot to give Tech its last lead at 63-62 with 2:11 left in the game. Each of Schenscher’s entries and exits from the game, as well as his baskets and blocks, were greeted by the home crowd’s chants of “Loooook.”

Schenscher, who played 12 minutes at Wake Forest without attempting a shot, but had four rebounds and a blocked shot, 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.

Stronger at the Line, But Not at the Line Enough

Georgia Tech has shown modest improvement this season from the free throw line (69.1 percent, fourth in the ACC), and have five players over 70 percent from the stripe.

Marvin Lewis ranks third in the conference at 87.3 percent, followed by Akins at 77.8 percent, Halston Lane at 74.5 percent, B.J. Elder at 73.3 percent and Clarence Moore at 71.4. Even Ed Nelson, who leads the team in attempts (68), has improved to the point where he has made 64.3 percent of his tries in ACC games.

Tech, which has a 69.0 percent rate in ACC games, has been unable to take advantage of its improved accuracy, however, having been to the line just 21 times a game, compared to 26 for its opponents. That difference is far greater in ACC games, 20 attempts per game for the Jackets to 32 for their opponents.

The Jackets are 4-2 when attempting more free throws than their opponents this year, 3-11 when they attempt fewer. Only Maryland has attempted fewer free throws than Tech (40-37) among ACC foes.

Akins For Three

Tony Akins has made his mark as one of the top three-point shooters in Georgia Tech history. Only Dennis Scott (351-for-831) ranks ahead of Akins on Tech’s career lists for three-point field goals made and attempted.

Akins, who is 268-for-719 in his career (37.3 percent), passed Travis Best (258-for-656) Jan. 13 against Maryland and has risen to 7th place on the all-time ACC list for three-point field goals made.

The 5-11 senior has already shot 155 three-point attempts this season, an average of 7.8 per game which is well above his career average of 6.2 attempts per game. But with an increase in frequency has come an improvement in accuracy. He has made 41.9 percent of his attempts this season, compared with 35.7 percent for his first three years combined.

Georgia Tech (7-13, 0-7) vs. Florida State (10-8, 3-4)January 30, 2002 o 9 p.m.Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald's Center o Atlanta, Ga.

TV: Fox Sports Net, Mike Hogewood, pbp, Dan Bonner, color Radio: WTSH-FM (107.1), WMAX-FM (98.1), WSNY-FM (100.1), Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 7-13, 0-7 ACC (H: 4-6, A: 0-5, N: 3-2) Series vs. Florida State: FSU leads, 26-19 Vs. FSU at AMC: tied 11-11 Vs. FSU since joining ACC: FSU leads, 12-9 Last year’s meetings: Tech won 77-68 in Atlanta, FSU won 69-59 in Tallahassee Head Coach Paul Hewitt: 90-53 (.629), 5th season overall, 24-26 (.480), 2nd season at Tech Last game: Jan. 26, Wake Forest d. Tech, 87-74, in Winston-Salem Next game: Feb. 2, North Carolina, 1 p.m., at AMC [CBS]

Probable Starters F 1 B.J. Elder 6-3 Fr. 9.2 ppg 1.9 rpg F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 9.5 ppg 5.4 rpg C 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 8.3 ppg 6.9 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 16.0 ppg 5.6 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 12.6 ppg 4.4 rpg

Top Reserves C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 4.7 ppg 5.7 rpg F 33 Halston Lane 6-5 So. 7.4 ppg 3.3 rpg F 55 Anthony McHenry 6-6 Fr. 2.0 ppg 1.2 rpg F 2 Isma’il Muhammad 6-5 Fr. 6.9 ppg 3.1 rpg C 12 Luke Schenscher 7-0 Fr. 3.5 ppg 2.6 rpg

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