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Tech Returns to ACC Play by Hosting NC State

Feb. 18, 2002

Fresh off a 20-point road victory over Saint Louis, Georgia Tech returns to its Atlantic Coast Conference stretch run Wednesday night by hosting NC State at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center.

The game will be regionally televised throughout the ACC area on the Raycom/Jefferson-Pilot Sports network (TV33 in Atlanta), with local radio coverage on WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1), WSNY-FM (100.1), WLKQ-FM (102.3) and WTSH-FM (107.1).

Tech (11-15, 3-9 ACC) snapped a two-game losing streak Saturday with a 60-40 win at Saint Louis, and remains tied for sixth place in the ACC standings with Florida State. NC State (19-7, 8-5 ACC) has won three of its last four games following its 83-54 win over Clemson Saturday and is in fourth place.

“They have more freshman starts than anybody in the ACC, and those guys are doing a nice job for them,” said head coach Paul Hewitt of the Wolfpack. “Josh Powell, a local kid, and Julius Hodge have both had nice years for them. Anthony Grundy and Archie Miller are the guys that make them go and have done a good job leading them.”

Leading the way for the Yellow Jackets is point guard Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.), who ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring (16.0), fifth in assists (5.5), second in three-point percentage (.403) and first in three-point field goals per game (3.04). Off-guard Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.) is Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures for the season with 11.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He leads Tech in three-point percentage (41.6) and would rank third in the ACC in free throw accuracy (88.6) with enough attempts.

Tech’s starting lineup for the last eight 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.), who was named ACC Rookie of the Week last week, at center.

Moore averages 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, shooting 43.3 percent from three-point range vs. the ACC. Nelson has played very well of late (17 points against Duke, 10.2 ppg vs. the ACC), averaging 8.0 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds, which also tops all ACC freshmen. Elder averages 9.1 points.

Tech goes five deep on the bench, which provides about 30 percent of the Jackets’ scoring: 6-5 sophomore wingman Halston Lane (Oak Ridge, Tenn.), 6.9 points per game, 6-8 sophomore center Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.), 3.8 points and 4.9 rebounds, 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), who averages 7.2 points and 3.3 rebounds and scored a career-best 15 points in the loss to Maryland, and 6-5 guard Anthony McHenry (Fr., Birmingham, Ala.), 1.9 ppg. Seven-foot freshman center Luke Schenscher (Hope Forest, South Australia), who missed 12 games during December and January with a broken foot, averages 4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds and is shooting 54.3 percent from the floor.

“We just need to continue the way we’ve been playing,” Hewitt said. “We’ve played some very good defensive basketball. Our rebounding has improved dramatically. Consequently, we’ve won four out of our last six. If we continue that trend, we have a chance to be successful against NC State.

“Our defense has been taut, getting our hands on more balls and being more disruptive. On the offensive end, we’re taking better shots, and we’re moving the ball, and we’re not having those untimely turnovers where the opponent gets an easy basket.”

Tech Series vs. NC State

oNC State leads the overall series, 41-29, having won nine of the last 11 meetings between the two teams. Prior to that, Tech had won seven in a row.

oThe Wolfpack won the teams’ first meeting this season on Jan. 19, overcoming an 11-point second-half deficit to win 84-71 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh. Five Tech players scored in double figures – Tony Akins with 17 points, Clarence Moore and Ed Nelson with 14 each, Marvin Lewis with 12 and B.J. Elder with 11.

oGeorgia Tech and NC State have split their regular-season meetings each of the past two years. Tech defeated the Wolfpack, 69-54, at home on Feb. 17, following a 72-60 defeat on Jan. 16 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.

oTech is 14-11 against the Wolfpack at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, winning the last two encounters on Tech’s home court by scores of 69-54 last year and 66-63 during the 1999-2000 season. NC State’s last win at the Thrillerdome was a 51-50 squeaker on Feb. 2, 1999.

oThe last three meetings between the two teams have been decided by an average of 13.3 points. The six meetings before that were decided by an average of 4.2 points.

Tech in the Thrillerdome

Georgia Tech is playing its 46th season at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s, and the Jackets have a record of 452-158 (.741) in the building, which opened Nov. 30, 1956 with a 71-61 Tech loss to Duke. Since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, Tech is 214-57 (.790) in its on-campus home.

Tech played its 600th men’s game in the facility on Nov. 28, defeating Wisconsin 62-61 after trailing by 20 in the second half. Tech’s win over Cornell Jan. 2 was the 450th for the Yellow Jackets at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center since the facility opened for the 1956-57 season.

The Yellow Jackets fell to 6-7 at home after losing to Duke Feb. 9. Tech has had only three losing marks in the Coliseum since it opened, in 1972-73 (6-7), 1973-74 (4-10) and 1980-81 (4-11).

Georgia Tech is 120-8 against non-conference opposition at Alexander Memorial Coliseum since the beginning of the 1981-82 season, an impressive mark indeed. But three of those eight losses have occurred this season to Penn, Tulane and IUPUI. From 1981 through last season, the only non-ACC teams to win at the Thrillerdome were Georgia (Dec. 6, 2000), Penn State (March 18, 1998), the College of Charleston (Jan. 16, 1993), Louisville (Jan. 15, 1989), and Richmond (Dec. 22, 1987).

Last Time Out

Georgia Tech snapped a two-game losing streak with a 60-40 victory over Saint Louis Saturday at the Savvis Center. Tech served up one of its best defensive efforts of the season by yielding a season-low 40 points and 31.1 percent shooting by Saint Louis (.001 off the season-low of 31.0 to Eastern Illinois).

Tech held Saint Louis to 4-for-21 from the floor in the first half in taking a 25-13 lead. The 45 field goal attempts by the Billikens also were a season low against Tech, and the Yellow Jackets got 13 steals and outrebounded Saint Louis 41-30.

Tony Akins broke out of a brief slump with 21 points, Tech’s only player in double figures, while hitting 7 of 10 field goals and 3 of 4 three-point attempts.

Tech Trends and Anomalies

oTech has won four of its last six games, three of the wins coming against teams that had defeated the Jackets earlier in the season – North Carolina, Clemson and Saint Louis.

oThe 40 points scored against Tech by Saint Louis were the fewest by a Tech opponent since Dec. 31, 1996 in a 65-40 Yellow Jackets’ win over UNC Greensboro.

oThe 13 points allowed in the first half were the third-fewest ever allowed in a half by the Jackets.

oThe 60 points scored by Tech in the game were the fewest by the Jackets in a winning effort since a 58-47 victory over Hofstra on Dec. 26, 1996.

oAfter averaging nearly 80 points a game over a 17-game stretch from Dec. 1 to Feb. 6, Tech has averaged just 62.7 points (65 maximum) over its last three games.

oTech has won three times this season when shooting less than 40 percent from the floor – Eastern Illinois, Davidson and the second meeting with Saint Louis.

oTech has held nine opponents under 40 percent shooting this season, winning all of those games. Florida State, North Carolina and Clemson are Tech’s only ACC opponents this season to finish under 40 percent.

oTech has held three opponents to 50 points or fewer in the last six games (Florida State 46, Clemson 50, Saint Louis 40). The Jackets had not permitted fewer than 61 in any game prior to that.

oTech’s freshmen and sophomores have accounted for 79 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ points scored and 92 percent of the team’s rebounds.

Lineup Shift Pays Off

Tech has settled on Tony Akins, Marvin Lewis, Clarence Moore, Ed Nelson and B.J. Elder for its starting lineup in each of the last eight games, going 4-4. Its two losses to No. 1 Duke and No. 3 Maryland aside, Tech has outscored the other six teams on average, 73-61.

After allowing its first five ACC opponents in January to shoot a combined 49.3 percent, Tech has limited the last six opponents to an average 40.6 percent. Not coincidentally, 7-foot freshman Luke Schenscher returned from injury at the same time and has made a difference defensively in those games.

Facing a roster with five new scholarship players, head coach Paul Hewitt has used six different starting lineups this season, tinkering to find that right combination or match up better against its opponent. Akins and Lewis are the only players to have started every game this season.

Nine different players have started games this season, and seven have started an ACC game.

Despite who starts the game, however, Hewitt is still using a 10-man rotation with each member averaging 10 minutes a game or more.

Taking Better Care of the Ball

Georgia Tech has done a much better job of handling the ball over the past month. Point guard Tony Akins has had two turnover-less games in the last six contests, going without a miscue against Florida State (34 minutes) and Maryland (34 minutes). He has five zero-turnover games in the last two years.

As a team since its Jan. 9 game at Duke, Tech has committed just 13.9 turnovers per game in 10 games. Tech committed a season-low eight each against IUPUI and Cornell, had just nine against North Carolina and 10 each against Virginia and Florida State.

Tech averaged 19.3 turnovers over its first 12 games, including three games with more than 20.

Akins Still Among ACC 3-Point Leaders

Tony Akins, who made his 112th career start vs. Saint Louis, has been Georgia Tech’s most consistent offensive player all season, scoring in double digits in 23 of 26 games and scoring 20 or more nine times.

The 5-11 senior leads the Jackets in scoring at 16.0 points per game (8th in the ACC) while averaging 5.5 assists (5th in the ACC). He broke a 1-for-11 slump by hitting 3-of-4 three-pointers at Saint Louis, and he still ranks first in the the ACC in three-point field goals per game (3.04) and second in three-point percentage (.403). He is shooting 79.5 percent from the free throw line, which would rank 5th in the ACC with enough attempts.

Akins is the only ACC player to rank in the top 10 in scoring and top 5 in assists. In 12 ACC games, Akins has averaged 16.3 points and 5.7 assists per game.

Akins is averaging career-bests in most offensive categories, including scoring, assists and shooting. His 5.5 assists per game are 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.

Akins’ Career Numbers

oTony Akins has moved past all-America Mark Price into fifth place on the all-time Tech list for assists with 527. He needs 12 to pass Brian Oliver (538 from 1987-90) for fourth place.

oAkins also ranks seventh in career steals with 161, and needs 8 to pass Kenny Anderson (168, 1990-91) for sixth place.

oHe has 1,547 career points, jumping to 14th place in Tech history after beginning the year in 28th. He needs 41 points to pass John Salley (1,587 from 1983-86) and catch Bruce Dalrymple (1,588 from 1984-87).

Practicing “Schenscher-ship”

Luke Schenscher, who missed 12 games with a broken bone in his foot, has made a profound impact since returning to action for Georgia Tech against Virginia.

The 7-foot freshman has strengthened Tech’s interior defense to the point where he has helped the Jackets allow 40.6 percent shooting in the last six games.

Offensively, Schenscher has averaged 6.0 points and hit 14 of 26 field goal attempts in his last six games. He earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors Feb. 4 after playing key roles in Tech’s wins over Florida State and North Carolina. He leads Tech in field goal percentage at 54.3 percent (57.7 in ACC games).

He put together his best all-around game of the season against Duke, matching his season high of 9 points with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocked shots and 4 steals.

Each of Schenscher’s entries and exits from games at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, as well as his baskets and blocks, are greeted by the home crowd’s chants of “Loooook.”

Schenscher 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. He has grown to 240 pounds since arriving at Tech weighing 214.

Marv on the Mark

Marvin Lewis has established himself as one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC, hitting 41.6 percent of his attempts this season, which ranks second in the ACC except he falls five treys shy of the ACC minimum.

He also is one of the ACC’s top marksmen from the foul line, hitting 88.6 percent from the stripe. He would rank third in the ACC in free throw percentage, but also falls short of the league minimum. He hit 8-of-9 in Tech’s first meeting with Clemson and has had three games where he was 6-for-6 (Illinois, Davidson, Wofford).

Though he has not been to the line much in his last nine games, he is a perfect 11-for-11 in those games.

In his two-year career, Lewis has missed just 15 free throws, going 108-for-123 (87.8 percent).

Spreading the Scoring

Only two Yellow Jackets, Tony Akins (16.0 ppg) and Marvin Lewis (11.9 ppg), are averaging in double-figures for the season, but Georgia Tech has been balanced offensively in recent weeks, placing at least four players in double figures in 12 of the last 20 games.

Three Tech players – Tony Akins (16.3), Marvin Lewis (10.3), and Ed Nelson (10.2) – average in double digits in conference games, while Clarence Moore (9.7) and B.J. Elder (9.4) each average better than nine points a game. Duke is the only ACC team with five players averaging in double figures in league play.

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

Overall, Tech has averaged 76.2 points per game this season, an improvement over last season and fifth-best in the ACC. The Jackets rank third in the ACC in three-point percentage (37.3) and second in three-pointers per game (8.24).

Strong at the Line, But Not at the Line Enough

Georgia Tech has five players hitting over 70 percent from the stripe this season.

Marvin Lewis (88.6 percent) and Tony Akins (79.5 percent) are Tech’s top shooters from the stripe, but neither has enough attempts to qualify for the ACC leaders. Halston Lane at 76.5 percent, B.J. Elder at 73.5 percent, and Clarence Moore at 71.8 also top the 70-percent mark.

Tech has been unable to take full advantage of its improved accuracy, however, having been to the line 119 times fewer than its opponents (4.6 per game). That difference is more pronounced in ACC games, 98 fewer times in 12 games (8.2 per game). The Jackets have been to the free throw line fewer times than every ACC team save Florida State.

The Jackets are 7-2 when attempting more free throws than their opponents this year, 4-13 when they attempt fewer. Only Maryland (1st game), Florida State and North Carolina (2nd game) attempted fewer free throws than Tech 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 282-for-765 in his career (36.9 percent), has risen to 7th place on the all-time ACC list for three-point field goals made.

The 5-11 senior has already shot 196 three-point attempts this season, an average of 7.5 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 40.3 percent of his attempts this season, compared with 35.7 percent for his first three years combined.

Georgia Tech (11-15, 3-9) vs. NC State (19-7, 8-5)February 20, 2002 o 9 p.m. ETAlexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald's Center o Atlanta, Ga.

TV: Raycom/JP Sports, Tim Brant, pbp, Dan Bonner, color Radio: WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1), WSNY-FM (100.1), WLKQ-FM (102.3), WTSH-FM (107.1), Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 11-15, 3-9 ACC (H: 6-7, A: 2-6, N: 3-2) Series vs. NC State: NC State leads, 41-29 Vs. NC State at AMC: Tech leads, 14-11 Vs. NC State since joining ACC: NC State leads, 27-21 Last meeting: Jan. 19, NC State d. Tech, 84-71 Head Coach Paul Hewitt: 94-55 (.631), 5th season overall, 28-28 (.500), 2nd season at Tech Last game: Feb. 16, Tech d. Saint Louis, 60-40, at St. Louis Next game: Feb. 23, at Virginia (RJ/ESPN2), 4 p.m.

Probable Starters F 1 B.J. Elder 6-3 Fr. 9.1 ppg 1.9 rpg F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 9.0 ppg 5.5 rpg C 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 8.0 ppg 6.8 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 16.0 ppg 5.5 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 11.9 ppg 4.1 rpg

Top Reserves C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 3.8 ppg 4.9 rpg F 33 Halston Lane 6-5 So. 6.9 ppg 3.0 rpg F 55 Anthony McHenry 6-6 Fr. 1.9 ppg 1.3 rpg F 2 Isma’il Muhammad 6-5 Fr. 7.2 ppg 3.3 rpg C 12 Luke Schenscher 7-0 Fr. 4.6 ppg 3.2 rpg

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