Dec. 15, 2003
Georgia Tech’s basketball team, which improved to 8-0 following its 75-62 victory over Saint Louis Saturday, jumped to No. 5 in the Associated Press weekly rankings Monday (No. 6 in ESPN/USA Today) and looks ahead to a string of three home games in the next eight days against Alabama A&M, St. John’s and Marist.
The Yellow Jackets host Alabama A&M at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The game will not be televised, but can be heard in the Atlanta area on WQXI-AM (790) and WTSH-FM (107.1). A limited number of tickets remain for the game and can be purchased by calling 888-TECH-TIX or by logging on to Ramblinwreck.com.
The Bulldogs bring a 2-3 record into Wednesday night’s game after defeating Tennessee State, 78-77, on Saturday.
“We’ve got to just take whatever we get and appreciate it,” said head coach Paul Hewitt of the team’s ranking, which has steadily climbed since the Yellow Jackets debuted at No. 13 on Dec. 1. “People will still wait and see how we do in the ACC. We still have to prove ourselves every game, and we still have to keep getting better every game as we go through our non-conference schedule.”
Tech, which received 14 first-place votes from the writers this week, has not been ranked this high since Feb. 24, 1986, when the Jackets held the No. 4 position in the AP poll.
The Jackets are in the midst of a six-game stretch in which it does not leave the city of Atlanta. The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 75-62 victory over Saint Louis at Philips Arena Saturday, and play their next four games at home. Tech’s next out-of-town contest comes Jan. 3 at Georgia.
Defense continues to be the calling card for Tech, which has outscored its first eight opponents by 24.3 points a game (third in the ACC), with the closest margin of victory being Saturday’s 13-point win over Saint Louis. Tech’s opponents are shooting just 35.2 percent from the floor (second in the ACC), and 24.1 percent from three-point range (best in the ACC. Tech also has a +3.8 turnover margin and has forced nearly as many turnovers (151) as it has allowed field goals (163).
Georgia Tech has employed the same starting lineup for every game 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 16.1 points a game (7th in the ACC), while Lewis is fourth on the squad at 12.9 points a game (20th in the conference). Lewis is shooting 44.6 percent from the floor and 36.2 percent from three-point range (10th in the ACC). Elder has hit 50 percent of his field goals and 58.3 percent of his threes in his last four games, and now ranks eighth in the ACC in three-point percentage (37.8).
Jack has been impressive in many respects, averaging 13.9 points a game (second on the team, 14th in the ACC) and 7.8 assists per game (2nd in the ACC) while hitting 59.4 percent of his field goal tries (second on the team). He is also Tech’s leading rebounder (5.9 per game), and ranks fourth in the ACC in steals (2.4 per game) and assist/turnover ratio (2.95-1).
Schenscher, a junior who averages 7.9 points and 5.8 rebounds a game for the season, has averaged 9.5 points and 7.8 rebounds while hitting 54.2 percent of his field goals in the last four games. McHenry, also a junior, has been solid with 4.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game, and has recorded 16 assists against seven turnovers and blocked eight shots (tops on the team).
Tech’s top reserve has been junior forward Isma’il Muhammad, a 6-6 defensive whiz who has become a force offensively, averaging 13.3 points (third on the team, 18th in the ACC) while leading the ACC in field goal percentage (66.7). He earned MVP honors at the Preseason NIT after scoring 38 points in the two games in New York, and scored 16 Saturday against Saint Louis
The other primary players off the bench include Clarence Moore, a 6-5 senior forward averaging 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds; Robert Brooks, a 6-8 senior postman averaging 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds (54.5 percent from the floor); and 6-0 junior Will Bynum, who scored six points with three assists Saturday in his debut against Saint Louis.
#10/10 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-0, 0-0 ACC) vs. Alabama A&M (2-3, 0-0 SWAC) December 17, 2003 * 7 p.m. ET Alexander Memorial Coliseum, Atlanta, Ga. (9,191)
TV: noneRadio: WQXI-AM 790, WTSH-FM 107.1; Wes Durham, pbp; Randy Waters, color
Tech Record Breakdown: Home: 3-0; Away: 2-0; Neutral: 3-0 Series Breakdown vs. Alabama A&M: Overall: Tech leads, 2-0 Last meeting: Nov. 28, 1983 (Tech won 95-75 in Atlanta) Tech at AMC: 470-160
Georgia Tech Coach Paul Hewitt: 122-71 (.632), 7th season overall 56-44 (.560), 4th season at Tech 22-26 (.458) vs. the ACC 0-0 vs. Alabama A&M
Alabama A&M Coach L. Vann Pettaway: 355-153 (.695), 19th season overall 355-153 (.695), 19th season at Ala. A&M 0-0 vs. Georgia Tech
Next for Georgia Tech: Dec. 21 vs. St. John’s, 3 p.m. ET Next for Alabama A&M: Dec. 20 at Ala.-Birmingham, 8:30 p.m. ET