Feb. 1, 2007
Looking to end a four-game skid, Georgia Tech returns to Atlanta for its next three games, beginning with a 1 p.m. contest against 25th-ranked Clemson Saturday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Tech also hosts NC State on Tuesday on campus and Connecticut Feb. 11 at the Georgia Dome.
Saturday’s game is being televised throughout the Atlantic Coast region on the Raycom/Lincoln Financial Sports ACC Network. Stations in Georgia carrying the game include WATL in Atlanta, WSWG in Albany, WLTZ in Columbus, WDNN in Dalton and WGSA in Savannah. Live online video streaming is available on ACCSelect.com in other markets.
Radio coverage is provided by the Georgia Tech-ISP Sports Network and heard locally on WQXI-AM (790) and WTSH-FM (107.1). A broadcast of the game can also be heard nationally on XM Satellite Radio Ch. 192.
Tech, 13-8 overall, 2-6 in the ACC at the halfway point of the conference schedule. The Yellow Jackets extended their losing streak with an 85-75 verdict at Wake Forest Tuesday night, its 17th straight road defeat. The Jackets are 2-1 at home with wins over Duke and Florida State in ACC play this season, 0-5 on the road (two of those to top-25 teams).
Clemson, 18-4 overall and 4-4 in the ACC, has dropped four of six games since the Jackets and Tigers first met on Jan. 3. Clemson has lost its last two games in heartbreaking fashion, a 64-63 defeat at home last Sunday to Virginia, and a 68-66 loss at Duke on Jan. 25.
Series vs. Clemson
> Overall, Tech holds a 55-53 lead in a series that began in 1913. It is the oldest and longest-running series the Yellow Jackets have with an ACC member. The 108 all-time meetings are 28 more than Tech has played with any other ACC member.
> Clemson has won the last three meetings in the series, including a 75-74 victory in Clemson earlier this season, and the Yellow Jackets trail 30-27 to the Tigers since joining the ACC.
> Earlier this season: James Mays scored 16 points, including the game-winning basket on a layup with 2.2 second left to lift Clemson to a 75-74 victory on Jan. 6 at Littlejohn Coliseum. Mays’ basket came four seconds after Tech freshman Javaris Crittenton had given the Yellow Jackets a 74-73 lead with a floater from the left baseline. Crittenton scored a career-high 22 points to lead Tech, which lost despite shooting 59.2 percent from the floor, a high for the Yellow Jackets in an ACC game under Paul Hewitt.
> Tech and Clemson have split their season series 14 times in the last 19 years. The Jackets swept the season series from the Tigers three times in six seasons under Paul Hewitt.
> The Yellow Jackets have won eight of the 13 games between the two teams since Paul Hewitt became Tech’s head coach, with a 4-2 record at home and a 4-3 mark at Clemson. Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell is 3-4 vs. Tech.
> Tech has an all-time record of 38-18 against the Tigers at home, including 24-13 record at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Jackets have won 18 of 24 against the Tigers at home since 1983.
Quick Look at Tech
Georgia Tech has a solid returning nucleus of veteran players, but the Yellow Jackets have started three freshmen in 15 of their 21 games this season, including forward Thaddeus Young and point guard Javaris Crittenton, who have been the Yellow Jackets’ offensive leaders.
Crittenton, a 6-5 point guard from Atlanta, is the trigger man, averaging 13.0 points (44.6 pct. FG) as well as 5.5 assists per game (third in the ACC). Crittenton has made 41.3 percent of his three-point tries overall this season, has averaged a team-high 13.4 points in Tech’s ACC games, and has played an average of 34.6 minutes in those games.
Young, a 6-8 small forward, has been around the team lead in scoring all season, currently at a team-best 14.4 points per game (17th in the ACC). The Memphis, Tenn., native has averaged 14.6 points in Tech’s ACC games this month, and has made 48.9 percent of his shots from the floor in conference play.
Tech’s inside game is carried by two veterans in Ra’Sean Dickey, a 6-10 junior from Clio, S.C., and Jeremis Smith, a 6-8 junior from Fort Worth, Texas. Smith, the only Tech player to start every game this season, gives Tech some muscle inside on defense and on the boards, averaging 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds. He leads Tech in field goal percentage (63.2 percent) and has 10 double-digit scoring efforts.
Since returning to the starting lineup for the Centenary game on Dec. 18, Dickey has posted eight double-figure efforts and has made 64.6 percent of his field goal attempts in ACC games (58.3 percent overall). Dickey averages 8.8 points and 5.9 rebounds overall this season, 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds vs. the ACC.
Red-shirt freshman Mouhammad Faye, who has started eight of the last nine games, had a career game against Virginia Tech with 17 points (7-13 FG) and nine rebounds (seven offensive). A 6-10 forward from Dakar, Senegal, Faye has averaged 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds this season, but his biggest contributions come on defense, where his 7-foot-3 wingspan has caused havoc in Tech’s press and in halfcourt defensive situations.
Off the bench, Mario West, a 6-5 senior guard (4.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.8 steals), has been the Jackets’ catalyst on defense and logged important backup minutes at point guard, but came through on the offensive end against Florida State with a career-high 18 points. Anthony Morrow, a 6-5 junior, has returned to his form of 2005-06, averaging 14.0 points (54.4 pct. FG) over Tech’s last nine games. He averages 9.35 points for the season, 11.4 vs. the ACC.
Also averaging double-digit minutes are Peacock, who started the first nine games of the season and averages 6.3 points and 3.1 rebounds (53.4 pct. FG) as Tech’s backup center and power forward, and 6-5 sophomore wing D’Andre Bell (0.8 ppg, 0.6 rpg).
Jackets Sputter on Offensive End
Georgia Tech has suddenly found life difficult on the offensive end, averaging just 66.5 points in its last four games in losses to North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
In each, the Yellow Jackets dug deep holes for themselves in the first half, falling behind by 11 at UNC, 17 at Maryland, nine to Virginia Tech and 11 to Wake Forest. Tech shot just 34.5 percent in the opening frame at North Carolina, 41.4 percent at Maryland and 31.4 percent against Virginia Tech before improving to 46.4 percent at Wake Forest. After halftime, the Jackets rallied but could get no closer than three points to either opponent.
Tech has turned the ball over 60 times in the four games combined (only nine at Wake Forest, however), and assisted on just 39 of 106 field goals. The Jackets have not gotten to the free throw line much either, and have not shot well there when they have (57.1 percent on 63 attempts).
International Man of Mystery
The layers continue to peel off for Tech’s “International Man of Mystery,” red-shirt freshman forward Mouhammad Faye. The 6-10 Faye put forth his best game as a Yellow Jacket against Virginia Tech, scoring 17 points (7-of-13 FG) and nine rebounds. Many of his baskets came off his seven offensive rebounds, and he added an assist and a steal. He followed with six points at Wake Forest Wednesday.
A native of Dakar, Senegal, Faye had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist in the summer, but returned in time to begin practice with the teams in October and was at full strength by the team’s exhibition game against Morehouse. A disruptive force on defense because of his 7-foot-3 wingspan, and a skilled passer, Faye has has started eight of Tech’s last nine games and averaged 6.8 points and 4.8 rebounds over that stretch with nine assists, seven blocked shots and 11 steals.
Morrow Back to Form
Anthony Morrow, Tech’s 6-5 junior guard who missed the first three weeks of practice recovering from a stress fracture in his lower back, has worked his way back into the form which made him the ACC’s leading three-point shooter in 2005-06.
The Charlotte, N.C., native showed a little bit of a different game against Virginia Tech, working his way inside for eight of his 18 points and shooting 7-for-11 from the floor. He still went 3-for-6 from three-point range, and has hit 52.2 percent of his three-balls over Tech’s last nine games.
Despite not starting a game this season and averaging 20.4 minutes, Morrow is Tech’s third-leading scorer in ACC games (11.4 ppg), hitting 45.5 percent of his threes and 50 percent overall, as well as 88.9 percent from the foul line. He has scored in double figures in eight of his last nine games (14.0 ppg, 54.4 pct. FG over that stretch).
Morrow resumed full practice on Nov. 5 after not participating in any strength and conditioning work or individual instruction after mid-August, when his injury was diagnosed. Morrow led the team in scoring (16.0 points per game) and the ACC in three-point shooting (42.9 percent) last year.
Quoting head coach Paul Hewitt
On the Wake Forest game – “We came out of the locker room in great shape, and for the first 10 minutes we played as well as we’ve played all year. Then there was a stretch of about four minutes late in the first half where we had a couple of turnovers and a couple of easy baskets, and bang we’re down 11. We came back out in the second half and played pretty well to get back in the game. We cut it to four, but never could finish the deal in terms of getting stops and putting ourselves in position to win the game.”
On Tech’s defense – “When we came out of the (semester) break, we buckled down and played really well defensively against some quality teams. Now here in the last four games, we’ve gone back to giving up over 50 percent, which is not good enough to win at this level of college basketball. More important than that, against Wake Forest, the defensive rebounding was bad. You have to finish out the possession by getting that rebound. In the second half, there were three or four possessions where we played great defense and got them down late in the shot clock, but Visser would tip it back in, or Weaver would lay it back in.”
On the bright spots – “Offensively, we’re starting to get back to moving again. We’re not standing around watching. We’re screening, we’re moving, and doing some good things in that area. But you can overcome a lot if you just guard. We’ve always placed a great deal of emphasis in being a great defensive team. This team is making an effort, but finishing out each possession and having the concentration level of getting the rebound and not committing a foul is important.
“There are so many things you can do defensively than can spin off into good things for your basketball team.”