Jan. 10, 2008
ATLANTA – In the midst of a stretch of seven of 10 games on the road, Georgia Tech resumes Atlantic Coast Conference play Saturday with a 2 p.m. visit to 25th-ranked Miami at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla. It is Tech’s third game against a team ranked in the Associated Press top 25, all on the road.
The game will be regionally televised on the ACC/Raycom television network, and will air in Atlanta on WATL-TV (Ch. 36). Radio coverage of the game is provided on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790), WREK-FM (91.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1).
The Yellow Jackets are 7-7 for the season and 0-1 in the ACC following a 79-72 loss at Georgia Wednesday night. Tech dropped its ACC opener Dec. 30 to Florida State at home, 66-64. Three of the Yellow Jackets’ seven losses this year have come to teams in the current top 25 (No. 3 Kansas, No. 13 Indiana, No. 13 Vanderbilt), two of those on the road. The Jackets are 2-3 on opponents’ home courts this season.
Miami, which is playing its first ACC game, has surged to a 13-1 start to break into the top 25, but has not played since an 88-62 win over Penn on Jan. 2. The Hurricanes’ only loss came to Winthrop (77-60 on Dec. 29), a team Tech also has lost to (79-73 on Nov. 18).
Tech has played a strong schedule thus far, posting a schedule strength rank of 27 according to this week’s RPI released by the NCAA. The seven teams Tech has lost to have a combined record of 83-19, including the aforementioned top-25 teams who have a combined mark of 44-1. The Yellow Jackets next two opponents are combined 28-1.
At 7-7, Tech is at or below .500 through 14 games for the first time since the 2001-02 season. The Yellow Jackets were 7-8 through 15 games that year and fell to 7-13 before rallying to a 15-16 final mark.
Head coach Paul Hewitt’s starting lineup for the last seven games has included senior Matt Causey at point guard, senior Anthony Morrow and junior Lewis Clinch on the wings, senior Jeremis Smith at strong forward and freshman Gani Lawal at center.
Tech has used three different starting point guards this season, beginning with freshman Moe Miller in the first two games, then Causey for one game and D’Andre Bell for four after Miller was injured in a practice just before the Paradise Jam. Causey returned to the starting lineup for Tech’s Dec. 5 at Georgia State and has started each game since.
Morrow, Clinch and Smith have started all 14 games.
Causey, a 6-0 senior from Gainesville, Ga., has averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 assists in his seven starts. He ranks eighth in the ACC in assist average (3.89) and fifth in assist-turnover ratio (1.82-1) while averaging 5.1 points for the season.
Clinch, a 6-3 guard from Cordele, Ga., has reached double-digits in scoring in 11 of the last 14 games, including 11 last time out against Georgia. He is Tech’s second-leading scorer at 12.9 points per game (18th in the ACC), and has hit 39.5 percent of his three-point attempts.
Morrow, a 6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C., who is the Yellow Jackets’ top returning scorer from 2006-07, currently ranks 10th in the ACC with 14.9 points a game. One of Tech’s best all-time three-point shooters with 210 for his career, Morrow has hit 46.5 percent of his three-point attempts this season.
Smith, the team captain and a 6-8 forward from Fort Worth, Texas, made the all-tournament team at the Paradise Jam. Tech’s third-leading scorer at 9.0 points per game and its leading rebounder at 7.0 per game (12th in the ACC), Smith has six double-figure rebound games this season, and collected 10 Wednesday night against Georgia.
Lawal, a 6-8 rookie from Riverdale, Ga., has started the last seven games, averaging 7.3 points and 4.1 rebounds while hitting 20-of-27 shots from the floor (74.1 pct.) in those games. He has averaged 7.0 points and 3.6 rebounds for the season while hitting a team-high 65.0 percent of his shots from the floor.
Backcourt reserves — Moe Miller, a 6-1 native of Memphis, Tenn., averages 6.5 points and 2.8 assists for the season. Bell, a 6-5 native of Los Angeles, averages 5.7 points for the season with 27 assists and gives Tech solid perimeter defense. Six-foot-4 freshman Lance Storrs of Decatur, Ga., averaging 1.9 points per game, had his best game of the season against Centenary (8 pts.).
Frontcourt reserves — Hewitt can go to 6-8 sophomore Zack Peacock of Miami, Fla., 6-10 junior Alade Aminu of Stone Mountain, Ga., and 6-11 red-shirt freshman Brad Sheehan of Latham, N.Y. Peacock, who missed the first five games of the season with a foot injury, is Tech’s fourth-leading scorer (8.9 ppg) and rebounder (3.8 per game). Aminu, who started the first seven games of the year, averages 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds while hitting 55.8 percent of his field goal tries. Sheehan has seen limited action this season, playing in eight of 14 games.
Series vs. Miami
> Georgia Tech has won four of seven prior meetings with Miami, but dropped the last two, 70-53, on Feb. 4, 2006 at home and a 90-82 decision on Dec. 3, 2006, in Coral Gables. The Yellow Jackets swept the season series from the Hurricanes in UM’s first ACC season, including an 80-69 victory in Atlanta and a 76-72 win at Miami.
> Last season: In the teams’ only meeting, Jack McClinton scored 22 points and Anthony Harris added 21 as the Hurricanes pulled away late for a 90-82 win. The Canes shot 56.1 percent from the floor and placed four players in double figures.
> The most recent meeting between the two schools prior to Miami’s joining the ACC occurred in December of 1997 as part of the Orange Bowl Classic doubleheader at Miami Arena, the Hurricanes’ home court until the team moved into the on-campus Convocation Center last year. The Yellow Jackets, led that year by senior forward Matt Harpring, won that game, 69-61.
> Tech played Miami twice under former head coach Whack Hyder, losing the first-ever meeting in the series by 22 points in 1953, then taking a six-point homecourt victory in 1967. That was the only pre-ACC visit by the Hurricanes to Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and the 90-84 Tech win has been the highest scoring game in the brief series. Ted Tomasovich led the Yellow Jackets with 27 points.
> Tech coach Paul Hewitt is 2-2 against Miami, and Hurricanes head coach Frank Haith is 2-2 against the Yellow Jackets.
Close Calls Dot Tech Slate
Part of the reason Georgia Tech has fared well in the final five minutes of games this season is how frequently the Yellow Jackets have found themselves in close games.
Nine of Tech’s 14 games this year have been decided by 10 points or fewer, and the Jackets are 3-6 in those games. Six games have been decided by five points or fewer, and Tech is 3-3 in those contests.
Four of the Jackets’ seven losses have been decided by six points or fewer (Winthrop, Indiana, Kansas, Florida State).