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Tech Takes Two-Game Winning Streak to Clemson

Feb. 4, 2002

ATLANTA – Riding renewed confidence with two straight wins, Georgia Tech visits Clemson in a non-televised Atlantic Coast Conference game Wednesday at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Local radio coverage on the Georgia Tech/ISP Network can be heard on flagship station WQXI-AM (790), WTSH-FM (107.1), WSNY-FM (100.1), WLKQ-FM (102.3) and WMAX-FM (98.1).

Tech (9-13, 2-7 ACC) earned its second straight win Saturday, an 86-74 win at home over North Carolina, and now stands tied for seventh place in the ACC standings with the Tar Heels and the Tigers. Clemson (11-11, 2-7 ACC), after a 2-1 start in conference play that included a win over Tech on Jan. 5, has lost six in a row after a 98-88 defeat to Duke Saturday.

Tech has clicked offensively and player superior defense in winning its last two games, averaging 81.5 points with a 52-point half against North Carolina while limiting the two foes to an average of 60 points on 36.4-percent field goal shooting.

“The thing that has helped us to build this momentum has been our effort on the glass,” said head coach Paul Hewitt. “We’ve rebounded the ball much better. We only gave up seven offensive rebounds to North Carolina in Saturday’s game, and only 13 to Florida State. If we’re going to be successful against Clemson, we’ve got to do a better job on the boards than we did the last time.

“They really took advantage of us inside the last time here at the Coliseum. Chris Hobbs scored 25 points, and did it mostly on offensive rebounds and putbacks. He did a phenomenal job of controlling the offensive boards. To have a chance to win, we’ll have to rebound the ball better.

“Edward Scott is playing extremely well. I believe he is second in the country right now in assists, and he does a great job of getting the ball to the right places.”

Leading the way for the Yellow Jackets is point guard Tony Akins (Sr., Lilburn, Ga.), who has averaged more than 19 points in Tech’s last three games. He ranks eighth in the ACC in scoring (16.3), fifth in assists (5.7) and first in three-point field goals per game (3.27). Off-guard Marvin Lewis (So., Germantown, Md.) is Tech’s only other player averaging in double figures for the season with 12.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He leads the ACC in three-point percentage (44.0) and is third in free throw accuracy (87.9).

Tech’s starting lineup for the last four 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.) at center. Head coach Paul Hewitt has used six different starting lineups this season.

Moore, who has averaged 11.2 points in ACC games has scored in double figures six straight games, averages 9.6 points and 5.1 rebounds for the season. Nelson has played very well of late, averaging 8.1 points and a team-leading 7.0 rebounds, which also tops all ACC freshmen. Elder, who has started the last four games, averages 9.1 points.

Tech goes five deep on the bench, led by 6-5 sophomore wingman Halston Lane (Oak Ridge, Tenn.), 7.0 points per game, 6-8 sophomore center Robert Brooks (Saginaw, Mich.), 4.3 points and 5.1 rebounds, 6-5 forward Isma’il Muhammad (Fr., Atlanta, Ga.), who averages 6.9 points and 3.4 rebounds, and 6-5 guard Anthony McHenry (Fr., Birmingham, Ala.), 1.9 ppg. Seven-foot freshman center Luke Schenscher (Hope Forest, South Australia), who returned to the court against Virginia after missing 12 games with a broken foot, averages 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds.

“There is no question that Luke’s presence in there is changing shots and making people less apt to come into the lane, and Ed’s got some help on the boards,” said Hewitt. “He’s got a big guy with good hands. Ed’s been improving. He’s been tremendous the whole year on the glass, and he’s gotten more efficient offensively as well.”

Tech Series vs. Clemson

oClemson evened the all-time series with Georgia Tech at 49-49 with an 83-76 win on Jan. 5 at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

oTech swept a season series from the Tigers last year for the first time since the 1985-86 season. Since the 1987-88 season, the teams have split their regular-season series every year except last year and 1996-97, when Clemson swept Tech.

oThe 98 all-time meetings are 28 more than Tech has with any other ACC member.

oLast year’s 111-108 win at Littlejohn Coliseum was Tech’s first since 1993, and the Jackets have won just five of 29 games played in the building. The home team has won 25 of the last 30 regular-season meetings.

oTech was Clemson’s opponent in the first game ever played at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Tigers won, 76-72, on Nov. 30, 1968. Wednesday night will be the 500th Clemson men’s game in the facility.

oThe Jackets and Tigers hooked up in one of the wildest games in the Jackets’ ACC history in a 111-108 victory last Jan. 24 at Clemson. The point total matched a Tech record for an ACC game. The teams combined for 31 three-point field goals, with the oddity that Tony Akins did not make one of them and went scoreless in the game.

oIn the two games combined last year, Tech hit 27 of 57 three-point attempts (47.4 percent). In the first meeting this year, Tech was just 8-of-29 (27.6 percent).

Last Time Out

Tech earned its second straight win after six consecutive losses by defeating North Carolina, 86-74, Saturday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Yellow Jackets scored 52 second-half points and shot 58.6 percent after trailing by one at intermission. In the first half, Tech shot just 32.4 percent.

Tony Akins scored 22 of his season-high 28 points in the second half, hitting 6-of-8 shots and 4-of-5 from three-point range after going 1-for-9 (0-for-5 from three) in the first half. Marvin Lewis scored 14 points, B.J. Elder had 12 and Clarence Moore added 10 for Tech.

Ed Nelson scored just seven points but grabbed 11 rebounds, his first double-digit game on the boards since Nov. 19 vs. Penn.

Tech Trends and Anomalies

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.

oIn its last three halves, Tech has given up just 12 two-point field goals – five in the second half against Florida State and seven in the game against North Carolina.

oIn its two wins over Florida State and North Carolina, Tech yielded just 36.4 percent shooting from the floor. In its first seven ACC games, all losses, Tech allowed 49.4 percent.

oTech has shot 55.4 percent (31-of-56) in the second half of its wins over North Carolina and Florida State.

oTech’s schedule is ranked the 20th most difficult in the nation according to the Sagarin Index. Only Duke’s is rated tougher (13th) among ACC teams.

oTech is 8-1 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent. The only loss: NC State. Tech is 1-12 when the opponent shoots a higher percentage.

oTech has attempted more field goals than every ACC opponent thus far except Duke. Overall, Tech has tried as many or more field goals than 19 of its 22 opponents this season.

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

oTech has not shot 50 percent in a game yet this season, and has not in 28 straight games dating back to last Feb. 17 (50 percent vs. NC State).

oTech has yielded 50 percent shooting eight times this season, compared to just three times last year. Tech is 1-10 under Paul Hewitt when allowing an opponent to shoot 50 percent.

oTech has held seven opponents under 40 percent shooting this season, winning all of those games. FSU and UNC are Tech’s only ACC opponents this season to finish under 40 percent.

oTech has collected 10 or more steals in nine games this season, beating last year’s total, and is averaging 8.6 steals per game (second in the ACC), compared with 7.9 per game a year ago. Tech averages 9.3 steals in ACC games.

oIn all nine of Tech’s victories this season, the Yellow Jackets have outscored their opponent in the second half. Tech is 9-2 when doing so, losing only to Duke and Maryland.

oTech has committed the same number or fewer turnovers than its opponent 12 times this season, but has won just six of those games.

Taking Care of the Ball

Georgia Tech achieved a season low for turnovers in an ACC game with just nine against North Carolina. Its primary ballhandlers, Tony Akins and B.J. Elder, combined for just four miscues in 111 minutes.

Akins logged his fourth zero-turnover game in the last two years against Florida State, and has just two in the last two games in 70 minutes.

As a team since Dec. 29, the Yellow Jackets averaged 13.5 turnovers in 10 games, and just 12 turnovers in the last six games. Tech committed a season-low eight each against IUPUI and Cornell, had just 10 against Virginia and Florida State.

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

Akins Still Leads ACC in 3-Pt. Shooting

Tony Akins, who made his 108th career start vs. North Carolina, has been Georgia Tech’s most consistent offensive player, scoring in double digits in 19 of 22 games and leading the Jackets in scoring at 16.3 points per game (8th in the ACC) while averaging 5.7 assists (5th in the ACC).

Akins’ 28 points against North Carolina Saturday 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 has just two turnovers in his last two games (70 minutes), including a zero-turnover game in 34 minutes against FSU.

Akins is the only ACC player to rank in the top 10 in scoring and top 5 in assists. In nine ACC games, Akins has averaged 17.6 points and 6.2 assists per game.

The 5-11 senior has averaged 19.4 points and 6.0 assists in three games since being held to two points against Virginia. He ranks second in the ACC in three-point percentage (41.1) and leads the league three-point field goals per game (3.27).

Akins is averaging career-bests in most offensive categories, including scoring, assists and shooting. His 5.7 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.

He is shooting 81.8 percent from the free throw line, which would rank 5th in the ACC with enough attempts.

On the Rebound

When Tony Akins doesn’t score a three, he usually responds in a big way. oAfter not hitting one against Virginia a week ago, he has responded with 59 points, 18 assists and 11 treys in three 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 into a tie for fifth place on the all-time Tech list for assists with all-America Mark Price. Akins has 510 assists after recording seven in each of Tech’s last two games, and needs 28 to tie Brian Oliver for fourth place.

oAkins also ranks seventh in career steals with 150, tied with Dennis Scott, and needs 18 to tie Kenny Anderson (168, 1990-91) for sixth place.

oHe has 1,478 career points, jumping to 15th place in Tech history after beginning the year in 28th. He needs 19 to tie Kenny Anderson (1,497) for 14th place.

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 just 12 two-point field goals in the last three halves of play. He has six blocked shots and an average of 4.0 rebounds in the four games since his return.

Offensively, Schenscher has averaged 5.3 points and hit 10 of 12 field goal attempts in four games. He earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors Monday after playing key roles in Tech’s wins over Florida State and North Carolina.

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 games, giving the Yellow Jackets some inside scoring presence and solid defense, almost always against taller players.

The 6-7 rookie has averaged 12.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in Tech’s last seven outings beginning at Duke on Jan. 10. Though he posted his first double-digit rebound game since Nov. 19 Saturday when he grabbed 11 against North Carolina, he has been consistent on the boards.

He has made 32 of 62 field goal tries (51.6 percent) in those games combined. In his first 15 games, he had just three double-digit scoring games. He has also gotten to the free throw line for 36 attempts, making 22 for 61.1 percent, a vast improvement over his first 15 games (46.5 percent).

Nelson tops ACC freshmen in rebound average (7.0) and ranks ninth overall. In ACC games, his 7.2 rebounds per game ranks seventh.

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 straight games and eight of the last nine. In the last nine games, Moore has averaged 12.4 points and 5.3 rebounds and shot 76.5 percent (26-of-34) from the free throw line and 45.2 percent (38-of-84) from the floor.

“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.

Moore’s top 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 third-leading scorer overall and its third-leading rebounder. In ACC games, the Norco, La., native averages 11.2 points and shoots 46.6 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 eight times in Georgia Tech’s last 12 games, including 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting against North Carolina.

Head coach Paul Hewitt has inserted Elder into the starting lineup for each of the last four games and five of the last seven. The first time was at Duke on Jan. 10, and Elder responded with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting with two assists before fouling out. In his five starts, Elder has averaged 9.8 points and hit 45.5 percent of his shots from the floor.

Elder has averaged 9.1 points a game in conference play, including 29 points in two games against North Carolina.

Marv on the Mark

Marvin Lewis has established himself as one of the top three-point shooters in the ACC, hitting 44.0 percent of his attempts this season, which leads the ACC.

The 6-4 sophomore has gone 18-for-39 from behind the arc in the last seven games (46.2 percent).

He also is one of the ACC’s top marksmen from the foul line, hitting 87.9 percent from the stripe (third in the ACC). He hit 8-of-9 against Clemson and has had three games where he was 6-for-6 (Illinois, Davidson, Wofford). Over his last 11 games, he has hit 89.7 percent from the stripe (35-39).

Lineup Shift Helps

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 four games, and Tech has outscored the three teams on average, 75.5-69.

Tech also limited those four teams to an average 42.0 percent 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 four 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.

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 275-for-739 in his career (37.2 percent), passed Travis Best (258-for-656) Jan. 13 against Maryland and has risen to 7th place on the all-time ACC list for three-point field goals made.

The 5-11 senior has already shot 175 three-point attempts this season, an average of 8.0 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 41.1 percent of his attempts this season, compared with 35.7 percent for his first three years combined.

Georgia Tech (9-13, 2-7) vs. Clemson (11-11, 2-7)February 6, 2002 o 7 p.m. o Littlejohn Coliseum o Clemson, S.C.

TV: none Radio: WQXI-AM (790), WTSH-FM (107.1), WSNY-FM (100.1), WLKQ-FM (102.3), WMAX-FM (98.1), Wes Durham, pbp, Randy Waters, color, also on Ramblinwreck.com Tech Record: 9-13, 2-7 ACC (H: 6-6, A: 0-5, N: 3-2) Series vs. Clemson: tied, 49-49 Vs. Clemson at Littlejohn: Clemson leads, 24-5 Vs. Clemson since joining ACC: Clemson leads, 25-21 Last meeting: Jan. 5, Clemson d. Tech, 83-76, at AMC Head Coach Paul Hewitt: 92-53 (.634), 5th season overall, 26-26 (.500), 2nd season at Tech Last game: Feb. 2, Tech d. North Carolina, 86-74, at AMC Next game: Feb. 9, Duke, 2 p.m., ABC-TV, at AMC

Probable Starters F 1 B.J. Elder 6-3 Fr. 9.1 ppg 1.9 rpg F 5 Clarence Moore 6-5 So.-R 9.6 ppg 5.1 rpg C 32 Ed Nelson 6-7 Fr. 8.1 ppg 7.0 rpg G 3 Tony Akins 5-11 Sr. 16.3 ppg 5.7 apg G 24 Marvin Lewis 6-4 So. 12.9 ppg 4.3 rpg

Top Reserves C 34 Robert Brooks 6-8 So. 4.3 ppg 5.1 rpg F 33 Halston Lane 6-5 So. 7.0 ppg 3.3 rpg F 55 Anthony McHenry 6-6 Fr. 1.9 ppg 1.2 rpg F 2 Isma’il Muhammad 6-5 Fr. 6.9 ppg 3.4 rpg C 12 Luke Schenscher 7-0 Fr. 4.3 ppg 3.1 rpg

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