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Tech Steps Out of ACC for Test at Saint Louis

Feb. 14, 2002

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech ventures out of the Atlantic Coast Conference for a nationally-televised, non-conference date at Saint Louis Saturday at 1 p.m. EST at the Savvis Center. The two teams are meeting for the second time this season following a 67-54 Billikens’ victory Nov. 24 in the Las Vegas Invitational.

The game will be televised on ABC (WSB-TV, Ch. 2 in Atlanta), with local radio coverage on WQXI-AM (790) and WMAX-FM (98.1).

Tech (10-15, 3-9 ACC) is coming off back-to-back losses to No. 1 Duke (95-63) and No. 3 Maryland, which defeated the Jackets, 85-65, Wednesday night at College Park, Md. Those two defeats followed a three-game winning streak that included victories over Florida State, North Carolina and Clemson.

Saint Louis is 11-14 overall, 5-7 in Conference USA, following a 67-53 loss to No.5 Cincinnati Tuesday night.

“They have two point guards who can break you down and get in the lane. They’re very effective,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. “They beat us last time because they guarded us. They did an excellent job defensively. Some of it was poor shot selection and turnovers, but a lot of it was due to their defense.

“We’re going to have to be very strong-willed and not cave in to taking the first available shot.”

Despite the earlier loss to the Billikens and Tech’s two recent losses to Duke and Maryland, Hewitt believes the Jackets have come far since the teams first met in November.

“It was so long ago. We’re so different,” said Hewitt. “Luke (Schenscher) is a different player. The younger guys have a lot more experience. We’re playing with a lot more confidence, although the last two games don’t help. We played well enough in stretches, but both those teams legitimately have a chance to win it all.”

Leading the way for the Yellow Jackets is point guard Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.), who ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring (15.8), fifth in assists (5.5), fourth in three-point percentage (.396) and second 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 12.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He leads Tech in three-point percentage (42.9) and would rank third in the ACC in free throw accuracy (88.2) with enough attempts.

Tech’s starting lineup for the last seven 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 on Monday, at center.

Moore averages 9.1 points and 5.4 rebounds. Nelson has played very well of late (17 points against Duke, 10.2 ppg vs. the ACC), averaging 8.3 points and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds, which also tops all ACC freshmen. Elder, who scored a season-high 19 points at Clemson last week, averages 9.3 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.), 6.8 points per game, 6-8 sophomore center Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.), 3.8 points and 4.7 rebounds, 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), who averages 7.2 points and 3.2 rebounds and scored a career-best 15 points in the loss to Maryland, and 6-5 guard Anthony McHenry (Fr., Birmingham, Ala.), 2.0 ppg. Seven-foot freshman center Luke Schenscher (Hope Forest, South Australia), who missed 12 games during December and January with a broken foot, averages 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds and is shooting 54.8 percent from the floor.

Tech Series vs. Saint Louis

oGeorgia Tech and Saint Louis are meeting for the second time this season, following a 67-54 Billikens’ victory on Nov. 24 in the Las Vegas Invitational. Tech outrebounded Saint Louis, 41-31, including 19 offensive rebounds, but the Jackets shot a season-low 33.9 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers. Tony Akins led Tech with 16 points and B.J. Elder added 13 off the bench. Reserve Chris Braun scored 14 points for the Billikens.

oTech leads the series, 5-3, and has won five of the last six games. This year’s games are the first between the two schools since a home-and-home series in the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons.

oTech is playing in the Savvis Center for the first time, but the Jackets have a 2-2 record at Saint Louis, including a 62-55 victory on Dec. 2, 1985 in the last meeting on the Billikens’ home floor.

oThe two teams met three times as members of the Metro Conference in 1976-77 and 1977-78, with Tech winning all three meetings.

oThe last time Tech faced the same non-conference team twice in one season was 1997-98, when the Jackets defeated Louisville in the Puerto Rico Shootout and then again less than a month later in the Delta Classic. Other non-conference teams that Tech has faced twice in a season in recent years include Pittsburgh in 1989-90 (Tech won both), Illinois in 1988-89 (Tech lost both) and Richmond in 1987-88 (Tech lost both).

Four of Last Six on Road

Georgia Tech has just two home games left – Feb. 20 vs. NC State and Feb. 27 against No. 16 Wake Forest. The Jackets play four of their final six games on the road, including last Wednesday’s loss at No. 3 Maryland. In additioin to the the trip to Saint Louis, Tech must travel to No. 6 Virginia (Feb. 23) and to Florida State (Mar. 2). The Jackets are 6-7 at home this year and in danger of posting only their fourth losing season ever at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

Last Time Out

Playing its second Top 5 team in five days, Georgia Tech dropped an 85-65 decision Wednesday at third-ranked Maryland in the Jackets’ final visit to Cole Field House. Tech held Terp all-America guard Juan Dixon to 14 points on 6-for-19 shooting, but Maryland’s inside tandem of Lonny Baxter (22 points, 10 rebounds) and Chris Wilcox (14 points, 12 rebounds) each posted double-doubles. The Jackets managed to shoot just 35.4 percent from the field and were outrebounded, 53-34. Tony Akins, Marvin Lewis and Isma’il Muhammad each scored 15 points for the Jackets. Muhammad’s output was his best of the season.

Tech Trends and Anomalies

oTech’s freshmen and sophomores have accounted for 79 percent of the Yellow Jackets’ points scored and 90 percent of the team’s rebounds.

oTech followed seven straight losses against ACC opponents by posting its largest victory margin ever against an ACC team with its 77-46 win over Florida State.

oTech is 9-1 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The only loss: NC State. Tech is 1-14 when the opponent shoots a higher percentage.

oTech has attempted more field goals than every ACC opponent thus far except its first meeting with Duke and second meeting with Maryland. Overall, Tech has tried as many or more field goals than 21 of its 25 opponents this season.

oConversely, Tech has attempted more free throws than its opponent in only eight games, and has won six of those.

oBefore shooting 51.9 percent at Clemson, Tech went 28 straight games without hitting 50 percent in a game dating back to last Feb. 17 (50 percent vs. NC State).

oTech has yielded 50 percent shooting nine times this season, compared to just three times last year. Tech is 1-11 under Paul Hewitt when allowing an opponent to shoot 50 percent.

oTech has held eight 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 collected 10 or more steals in 10 games this season (including the last four in a row), and is averaging 8.9 steals per game (second in the ACC), compared with 7.9 per game a year ago. At the present pace, which is the best average in its history, Tech will finish with 276 steals for the season, which would be the second best total in its history. Tech averages 9.7 steals in ACC games.

oIn all 10 of Tech’s victories this season, the Yellow Jackets have outscored their opponent in the second half. Tech is 10-2 when doing so, losing only to Duke and Maryland.

oTech has committed the same number or fewer turnovers than its opponent 15 times this season, but has won just seven of those games.

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 seven games. Before its last two losses to No. 1 Duke and No. 3 Maryland, Tech had outscored the first five teams on average, 75-65.

Tech also limited those five teams to an average 40.6 percent (112-276) after allowing its first five ACC opponents 50.3 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 five contests, going without a miscue against Florida State (34 minutes) and Maryland (34 minutes). He has five zero-turnover game 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 nine 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 111th career start vs. Maryland , has been Georgia Tech’s most consistent offensive player, scoring in double digits in 22 of 25 games and scoring 20 or more eight times.

The 5-11 senior leads the Jackets in scoring at 15.8 points per game (8th in the ACC) while averaging 5.6 assists (5th in the ACC). Although he has strugged the last two games (1-for-11 3P vs. Duke and Maryland), he still ranks second in the the ACC in three-point field goals per game (3.04) and fourth in three-point percentage (.396). He is shooting 80.6 percent from the free throw line, which would rank 5th in the ACC with enough attempts.

Akins’ 28 points against North Carolina was his most since scoring 28 against Maryland on Feb. 6 of last year. His only higher game was a 33-point outburst against Florida State during his sophomore season.

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 more than 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.

On the Rebound

When Tony Akins doesn’t score a three, he usually responds in a big way. oAfter not hitting one against Virginia on Jan. 22, he responded with 71 points, 23 assists and 14 treys in the next four games.

oAfter missing out from behind the arc against IUPUI, Akins went on a five-game tear in qhich he averaged 19.4 points and hit 20 of 35 three-point attempts (57.1 percent).

oLast year after going scoreless against Clemson last season, Akins averaged 18.1 points and hit 46.6 percent of his threes the rest of the season.

oAs a sophomore, Akins went 0-2 with nine points against Virginia. In the final eight games of that season, he hit 45.7 percent of his threes and 13.5 points, including a 33-point performance against Florida State in which he sank 9 of 14 three-point attempts.

Akins’ Career Numbers

oTony Akins has moved past all-America Mark Price into fifth place on the all-time Tech list for assists with 522. He needs 17 to pass Brian Oliver (538 from 1987-90) for fourth place.

oAkins also ranks seventh in career steals with 159, and needs 10 to pass Kenny Anderson (168, 1990-91) for sixth place.

oHe has 1,526 career points, jumping to 14th place in Tech history after beginning the year in 28th. He needs 62 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 42.1 percent shooting in the last five games.

Offensively, Schenscher has averaged 5.0 points and hit 15 of 26 field goal attempts in seven 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 54.8 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.

The Full Nelson

Freshman Ed Nelson has steadily grown more comfortable in recent weeks, giving the Yellow Jackets some inside scoring presence and solid defense, almost always against taller players.

Beginning with Tech’s first meeting with Duke on Jan. 10, the 6-7 rookie has averaged 11.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in Tech’s last 10 games. Though he has posted just one double-digit rebound game since Nov. 19 (11 against North Carolina), he has been consistent on the glass.

Nelson scored 17 points last Saturday to lead Tech against Duke, and had 18 (6-9 FG, 6-10 FT) in the first meeting between Tech and Maryland.

He has made 43 of 83 field goal tries (51.8 percent) and scored in double figures six times in the last 10 games. In his first 15 games, he had just three double-digit scoring games. He has also gotten to the free throw line for 46 attempts, making 29 for 63.0 percent, a vast improvement over his first 15 games (46.5 percent).

Nelson tops ACC freshmen in rebound average (6.8) and ranks 10th overall. He has a field goal percentage of 51.1 against league foes.

Tech Getting More of Moore

Head coach Paul Hewitt has called Clarence Moore his most important player when the 6-5 sophomore is at his best. The Yellow Jackets have seen Moore at his best lately.

Moore has scored in double digits in six of the last nine games and eight of the last 12. In the last 12 games, Moore has averaged 10.6 points and 5.9 rebounds and shot 76.5 percent (26-of-34) from the free throw line.

“Mo”, as he is known, has been a key defender as well, averaging more steals per minute than any of his teammates, including four each against Virginia and FSU. He had a season-high 13 rebounds Feb. 6 at Clemson.

Moore’s top scoring game this season was a career-high 20 points with 7 assists against Syracuse, which earned him Tech’s only ACC Player of the Week honor this season.

Moore is Tech’s fourth-leading scorer overall and its third-leading rebounder. In ACC games, the Norco, La., native averages 9.7 points and shoots 43.5 percent from the floor.

Like an Elder

He is only a freshman, but he’s beginning to play more like an Elder, B.J. Elder, that is. The 6-3 rookie from Madison, Ga., has scored in double figures nine times in Georgia Tech’s last 15 games, including 31 points in 34 minutes of play in Tech wins over North Carolina and Clemson.

Elder played just 16 minutes at Clemson before fouling out, but led all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor (3-of-5 from three-point range) with three assists. Elder has scored more points per minute than any other Tech player (0.48).

Head coach Paul Hewitt first inserted Elder into the starting lineup for Tech’s Jan. 10 game at Duke, and Elder responded with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting with two assists before fouling out. He has also started the last seven games, averaging 9.6 points (12-of-25 on threes).

Marv on the Mark

Marvin Lewis has established himself as one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC, hitting 42.0 percent of his attempts this season, which ranks second in the ACC except he falls three treys shy of the ACC minimum.

He also is one of the ACC’s top marksmen from the foul line, hitting 88.2 percent from the stripe (third in the ACC). 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).

In his two-year career, Lewis has missed just 15 free throws, going 106-for-121 (87.6 percent).

Spreading the Scoring

Only two Yellow Jackets, Tony Akins (15.8 ppg) and Marvin Lewis (12.3 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 19 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).

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 279-for-761 in his career (36.7 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 192 three-point attempts this season, an average of 7.7 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 39.6 percent of his attempts this season, compared with 35.7 percent for his first three years combined.

Georgia Tech (10-15, 3-9) at Saint Louis (11-14, 5-7)February 16, 2002 o 1 p.m. EST o Savvis Center o St. Louis, Mo.

TV: ABC, Bob Carpenter, pbp, Jimmy Dykes, color Radio: WQXI-AM (790), WMAX-FM (98.1), Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 10-15, 3-9 ACC (H: 6-7, A: 1-6, N: 3-2) Series vs. Saint Louis: Tech leads, 5-3 at Saint Louis: Tied 2-2 Last meeting: 11-24-01, Saint Louis d. Tech, 67-54, in Las Vegas Inv. Last meeting at Saint Louis: 12-2-85, Tech d. Saint Louis, 62-55 Head Coach Paul Hewitt: 93-55 (.628), 5th season overall, 27-28 (.491), 2nd season at Tech Last game: Feb. 13, No. 3 Maryland d. Tech, 85-65, at College Park, Md. Next game: Feb. 20, vs NC State, 9 p.m., RJ

Probable Starters F 1 B.J. Elder 6-3 Fr. 9.3 ppg 1.9 rpg F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 9.1 ppg 5.4 rpg C 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 8.3 ppg 6.8 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 15.8 ppg 5.5 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 12.3 ppg 4.1 rpg

Top Reserves C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 3.8 ppg 4.7 rpg F 33 Halston Lane 6-5 So. 6.8 ppg 3.0 rpg F 55 Anthony McHenry 6-6 Fr. 2.0 ppg 1.3 rpg F 2 Isma’il Muhammad 6-5 Fr. 7.2 ppg 3.2 rpg C 12 Luke Schenscher 7-0 Fr. 4.4 ppg 3.2 rpg

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