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Tech Returns Home to Face Tennessee State

Dec. 5, 2003

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Georgia Tech’s 13th-ranked basketball team returns home for the first time since Nov. 20 for a non-conference game against Tennessee State at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

Tickets remain for Saturday night’s game, and can be purchased at Gate 1 at the coliseum. There is no television coverage of the game, but it can be heard on radio in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790) and WTSH-FM (107.1).

The Yellow Jackets (6-0) defeated Ohio State, 73-53, in Columbus Wednesday night. Tech has won 17 of its last 19 games at home, and has not lost a non-conference game at home since Dec. 29, 2001. The Jackets are 129-8 against non-ACC foes since the 1981-82 season.

The Tigers come to town 1-3 with three straight losses after falling 65-63 to Fisk College Thursday night.

Tech is in the national rankings (No. 13 in the Associated Press with three first-place votes, No. 15 in ESPN/USA Today) for the first time since Dec. 22, 1997. It is the first time Tech has been in both polls (writers and coaches) since Dec. 8 of that season.

Defense has been the calling card for Georgia Tech in the first six games. The Yellow Jackets have outscored their first five opponents by 21.7 points a game, with the closest margin of victory being the 77-61 victory over No. 1 Connecticut. Tech leads the ACC in field goal percentage defense (35.6 percent) and is second in three-point defense (24.7 percent). No team yet has managed to shoot 40 percent against the Jackets.

Tech also has a +4.7 turnover margin and has forced nearly as many turnovers (117) as it has allowed field goals (122).

The Jackets forced 20 turnovers and limited Ohio State to just 32.7 percent from the floor (2-14 from three-point range) Wednesday night. Tech is now 2-3 in the five-year history of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

Hewitt has employed the same starting lineup for all six games this season — 6-3 Jarrett Jack at point guard, 6-4 Marvin Lewis and 6-4 B.J. Elder on the wings, 6-7 Anthony McHenry at the strong forward spot and 7-1 Luke Schenscher at center.

Lewis, a senior, and Elder, a junior, are Tech’s top two returning scorers from last year’s squad and have begun this season in similar fashion. Elder leads the Jackets at 16.8 points a game (7th in the ACC) after scoring 18 at Ohio State Wednesday night, while Lewis is third on the squad at 14.0 points a game. Lewis is shooting 46.7 percent from the floor and 37.8 percent from three-point range. Elder has shot just 42.1 percent this season, but has hit 46.8 percent (22-of-47) in his last three games.

Jack has been impressive in many respects, averaging 14.5 points a game (second on the team, 14th in the ACC) and 8.0 assists per game (leads the ACC) while hitting 57.7 percent of his field goal tries (second on the team, 8th in the ACC). He is also Tech’s leading rebounder (6.2 per game), and ranks second in the ACC in steals (3.0 per game).

Schenscher, a junior who averages 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds a game, scored eight points with six rebounds at Ohio State, and did an excellent defensive job on Emeka Okafor of Connecticut and Robert Tomaszek of Texas Tech in the NIT. McHenry, also a junior, has been solid with 3.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, and has recorded 14 assists against five turnovers, blocked six shots (tops on the team) and taken five steals.

Tech’s top reserve has been junior forward Isma’il Muhammad, a 6-6 defensive whiz who has become a force offensively, averaging 14.0 points (fourth on the team) while leading the ACC in field goal percentage (66.0. He earned MVP honors at the Preseason NIT after scoring 38 points in the two games in New York, and has scored in double figures off the bench in every game but one this season.

The other primary players off the bench include Clarence Moore, a 6-5 senior forward averaging 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds; Robert Brooks, a 6-8 senior postman averaging 3.2 points and 3.2 rebounds (8-of-14 from the floor); and 6-4 red-shirt freshman Mario West, a defensive specialist who averages 1.3 rebounds per game.

Georgia Tech and Tennessee State are meeting for the first time in men’s basketball. The Yellow Jackets are 7-1 all-time against the present members of the Ohio Valley Conference, the lone loss coming at Murray State (77-66) on Jan. 25, 1954.

Only three teams in Tech history have pushed an undefeated record beyond six wins. The 1943-44 team went 7-0 before losing and finished 14-4. The 1989-90 Tech Final Four team under head coach Bobby Cremins won its first 10 games (finishing 28-7), and the 1962-63 squad under Whack Hyder began 11-0 and finished 21-5 without an NCAA or NIT invitation.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (6-0, 0-0 ACC) vs. Tennessee State Tigers (1-3, 0-0 OVC)

December 6, 2003 * 7 p.m. * Alexander Memorial Coliseum (9,191)

TV: noneLocal radio: WQXI-AM 790, WTSH-FM 107.1; Wes Durham, pbp; Randy Waters, colorTech Record Breakdown:  Home:  2-0;  Away:  2-0;  Neutral:  2-0Series vs. Tennessee State: first meetingTech vs. Ohio Valley Conference: 7-1Tech at AMC: 469-160

Georgia Tech Coach Paul Hewitt: 120-71 (.628), 7th season overall 54-44 (.551), 4th season at Tech 22-26 (.458) vs. the ACC 0-0 vs. Tennessee State

Tennessee State Coach Cy Alexander: 1-3 (.250), 1st season overall 1-3 (.250), 1st season at Tennessee State 0-0 vs. Georgia Tech

Next for Georgia Tech: Dec. 13 vs. Saint Louis @Philips Arena, 12:30 p.m. Next for Tennessee State: Dec. 10 at Vanderbilt

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