Nov. 27, 2009
ATLANTA – Following a fifth-place finish in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Georgia Tech returns home for its next three games, beginning with a 4 p.m. Thanksgiving Friday contest against Mercer at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at the Henry F. McCamish, Jr., Basketball Complex.
Georgia Tech vs. Mercer – November 27, 4 p.m.
Site: Alexander Memorial Coliseum at the Henry F. McCamish, Jr., Basketball Complex
Radio: Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, including Atlanta flagship station WQXI-AM (790 the Zone) and Atlanta FM station WYAY (106.7). Wes Durham is in his 15th season calling the play-by-play, Randy Waters is in his 16th season providing analysis.
XM Satellite Radio: Channel 190 On the web: Audio and live stats available at www.Ramblinwreck.com
Tech is 3-1 after winning two of three games in Puerto Rico. The Yellow Jackets dropped their first-round game to Dayton, 63-59, then bounced back to defeat George Mason (70-62) and Boston University (85-67). Mercer, which suffered an 89-50 defeat to Florida State at home in its last game, comes to Atlanta with a 3-2 record.
Head coach Paul Hewitt’s team escaped with an 82-76 overtime victory over the Bears in the teams’ last meeting a year ago in Macon. Seven of the eight Tech players, including four starters, who played in that game remain on the Yellow Jackets’ roster, while five Mercer players in that game are back.
Georgia Tech has a 165-13 record against non-conference teams in Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the 1981-82 season.
The Yellow Jackets began the season ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll, and 20th in the ESPN/USA Today poll. The Jackets dropped out of the AP rankings released Monday but held on at No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
Jackets Win Two in Puerto Rico
Georgia Tech captured fifth place in last weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, rallying after an opening-round loss to Dayton (63-59) to cruise past George Mason (70-62) and Boston University (85-67).
Tech’s trio of post players – Gani Lawal, Derrick Favors and Zachery Peacock – combined to average 38.7 points and 24.3 rebounds per game and hit 67.1 percent of their shots from the floor. Lawal led the Jackets with 14.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, posting a pair of double-doubles.
The Yellow Jackets shot 51 percent from the floor as a team in the tournament, 27.3 percent from three-point range. They held their three foes to 37.1 percent from the floor, 28 percent from three, and posted a plus-11.3-rebound edge.
Series With Mercer
> Georgia Tech faces in-state foe Mercer for the second straight year. The Yellow Jackets captured an 82-76 overtime victory last year in Macon, the teams’ first meeting since the 1999-2000 season.
> Mercer will play Tech in Atlanta again next season.
> Tech holds a 26-16 overall lead in the series, including a 15-7 mark in games played on the Yellow Jackets’ home floor. The teams played for the first time in 1925, and the Yellow Jackets have won the last seven meetings and 18 of the past 20.
> The meeting between the two teams at Alexander Memorial Coliseum occurred in 1999. Current Tech basektball team academic advisor Jon Babul (5 pts, 5 reb) played in the 1999 meeting, a 91-79 Jacket win.
> The teams also met in an NCAA Tournament game, a 65-58 Tech win in the first round of the 1985 NCAA East Regional in the Omni in Atlanta. That Mercer team was led by Sam Mitchell, the current head coach of the NBA Toronto Raptors, which features former Tech star Chris Bosh.
> Mercer’s last win in the series occurred on Jan. 28, 1974, a 102-85 decision in Atlanta.
> Tech head coach Paul Hewitt is 1-0 against Mercer, and Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman is 0-1 against Georgia Tech.
> Mercer is Tech’s most frequent opponent of any team outside the Atlantic Coast Conference or Southeastern Conference, with the exception of Tulane. The Jackets and Green Wave, however, were both members of the SEC throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
> Mercer is a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Georgia Tech is 53-24 all-time against current members of the league.
Freshmen Make Solid Debuts
Four freshmen, two of whom have started each game, have been impressive in the early going for Georgia Tech. Derrick Favors, a 6-10 forward, and Mfon Udofia, a 6-2 point guard, have been in the starting lineup from the opener against Florida A&M, while Brian Oliver, a 6-6 forward, and Glen Rice, Jr., a 6-5 guard, have made solid contributions off the bench.
Favors has scored in double figures in each game so far, and has made 70 percent of his field goal tries. Udofia cracked double figures for the first time Sunday against Boston Univeristy (15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists). Oliver has given the Jackets a three-point shooting threat, hitting 4-of-6 in his debut against FAMU and 7-of-14 for the season. Rice, Jr., has been active on both ends of the floor, contributing in every column of the stat sheet.
Neither of Tech’s other two freshmen will play this season. Kammeon Holsey, a 6-8 forward from Sparta, Ga., also will not play this season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Aug, 1. He underwent successful surgery on Aug. 11 and is undergoing rehabiliation on the knee. Daniel Miller, a 6-11 center from Loganville, Ga., will red-shirt this season. Miller and his family made that decision and informed head coach Paul Hewitt the week of the opener.
> Tech’s inclusion in the Associated Press top 25 was short-lived. The Yellow Jackets began the year at No. 22, inched up to No. 21 after their win over Florida A&M, then dropped out Monday after the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Tech is No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today poll after beginning the season at No. 20.
> Tech ranks second in the ACC in rebound average (44.8 pg) and rebound margin (+14.2). The Jackets also rank fifth in field goal percentage defense (36.9 pct.) and third in three-point percentage defense (27.5 pct.).
> Only one Tech opponent (Dayton at 32.1 pct.) has shot 30 percent or better from three-point range.
> In Tech’s season-opener against FAMU, each team attempted 20 three-point field goals. In three games in Puerto Rico, Tech’s opponents tried 82 to the Jackets’ 33.
> Tech has been on the plus side of the turnover battle only once in four games, and it has had a positive assist-turnover ratio twice. The Jackets have committed the same number or fewer fouls in three of four games.
> No Tech player has averaged more than 27.0 minutes per game (Iman Shumpert).
> Tech’s 100 points against Florida A&M marked the Yellow Jackets first game in triple digits in a regulation game since Nov. 16, 2006, a 103-74 win over Georgia State. The Yellow Jackets scored 112 later that year against Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament, but that game went to overtime.
> Tech’s 39 field goals made against FAMU were the most for the Yellow Jackets since that Georgia State game (41). Its 81 field goal attempts were the most for a Paul Hewitt-coached Yellow Jacket team (yet no player took more than 10 shots).
Quoting Coach Hewitt
On the positives Georgia Tech can take away from its trip to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off: “The biggest thing would probably be that we put a big emphasis on execution. I thought starting in the second half against Dayton all the way through the rest of the tournament, we were doing a great job of executing, especially on offense. One of the other things we learned if that when we guard well, we can be very disruptive on defense.”
On Zachery Peacock’s performance in Puerto Rico: “He’s a very good shooter. We’ve really tried to push him to make more of his shooting opportunities on Sunday, and he shot the ball extremely well.”
On guard play: “It’s getting there. I think shot selection, taking care of the basketball and getting the ball inside are three areas that we need to work on more.”
On Derrick Favors: “His presence on the floor provides great rebounding and great shot blocking. But, on the offense end, you can dump the ball down to him, and he can score or kick it back out. When he is in the game, our offense seems to run smoother.”
On concern regarding lack of made three-point baskets: “I’m not concerned yet. Our lack of three-point production is more of a lack of making good passes to our shooters. There’s a saying in basketball that the quality of the pass effects the quality of the shot, and right now we’re not getting good passes out to our three-point shooters. It’s something we have to be more conscious of. I anticipate that we will be shooting the ball better from outside.”
On Mercer: “They’re a very good team. [James] Florence is scoring his usual 19 points a game. They have Jeff Smith who played well against us last year and is a very good scorer. There really tough.”