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Tech Visits No. 7 Duke

Feb. 26, 2008

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech plays its next-to-last road game of the season, and its final regular season game against a team currently in the top 25, when it visits No. 7 Duke for a 9 p.m. nationally-televised (ESPN) game Wednesday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.

Radio coverage of the game is provided on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network, and can be heard in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790), WREK-FM (91.1) and WTSH-FM (107.1), and nationally on XM Satellite Radio Channel 192.

Tech, 11-14 for the season and 4-7 in the ACC, has lost four consecutive games and five of its last six, including a 92-84 decision Saturday at Virginia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are in ninthth place in the ACC standings, a game-and-a-half out of last place, but just 2-1/2 games out of third.

Georgia Tech is 5-7 on opponents’ home courts this season, 3-3 in ACC road games, the first time the Jackets have won as many conference road games since the Final Four season of 2003-04. Tech has defeated NC State, Virginia and Wake Forest on the road. Tech’s last road win over a top-25 team occurred at Duke, ranked No. 3 at the time, on Mar. 3, 2004.

Duke, 23-3 overall, stands second in the ACC standings at 10-2. The Blue Devils have lost their last two conference games, at Wake Forest and Miami, but defeated St. John’s by 30 points in their last outing Saturday. Duke ranks No. 2 in the ACC in scoring, scoring margin and field goal percentage, and are first in turnover margin.

Tech has played a strong schedule, posting a schedule strength rank of No. 13 according to this week’s RPI rankings. The teams Tech lost to have a combined record of 243-101 (through Sunday’s games), including losses to six top-25 teams who have a combined mark of 134-26. Tech is 5-11 vs. teams in the top 100 of the RPI.

Series vs. Duke

> Duke has won 21 of the last 23 games in the series, but the Yellow Jackets snapped a 10-game losing streak on its home floor in the teams’ last meeting at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, a 74-63 win on Jan. 10 of last season. The Blue Devils earned a split of the season series with a 71-62 win in Durham on Feb. 18.

> Duke leads the overall series 58-22, and is 45-18 against Tech since the Jackets joined the ACC.

> Tech’s best stretch of the series occurred between 1982 and 1989, with 10 wins in 17 meetings. Tech has never won more than two in a row.

> Tech is 18-44 against Duke teams coached by Mike Krzyzewski, 11-16 in games played in Atlanta. Paul Hewitt is 2-13 vs. Duke.

> From 1984 to the present, Tech has faced Duke only twice when the Blue Devils were unranked, and only 14 times when they were out of the top 10 in both polls. Tech is 8-16 against Duke when both teams are in the top 25.

> Tech has won just five of 32 games played at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the first four coming in 1996, 1987, 1984 and 1959. Tech’s last win occurred on Mar. 3, 2004 in a 76-68 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium, which snapped a 41-game homecourt winning streak for the Blue Devils.

Quick Look at Tech

Georgia Tech’s starting lineup for the last 11 games (beginning Jan. 12 at Miami) has included freshman Moe Miller at point guard and junior D’Andre Bell at one wing. Seniors Anthony Morrow (wing) and Jeremis Smith (big forward) have started all 24 games for the Yellow Jackets, while freshman Gani Lawal has started the last 18 games at center.

The Yellow Jackets, whose regular rotation at the moment includes 10 players, are 4-7 with this starting lineup.

Miller, who replaced Matt Causey in the lineup, had started Tech’s first two games of the season before injuring his back in the Virgin Islands. Regardless of which player starts, Miller and Causey both play significant minutes at the point, combining to average 18.2 points and 7.1 assists in ACC games.

Despite playing only 18 minutes a game, the 6-0 Causey ranks eighth in the ACC in assists and ninth in assist-turnover ratio. Tech’s top scorer for five of the last 11 games, Causey has averaged 10.9 points and 3.7 assists since moving to the bench. Miller, a 6-1 rookie from Memphis, Tenn., has averaged 10.3 points and 3.9 assists over his last seven games, including 29 points and five assists Saturday at Virginia Tech.

Morrow, a 6-5 guard from Charlotte, N.C., who is the Yellow Jackets’ top returning scorer from 2006-07, currently ranks 15th in the ACC with 14.3 points a game, 13.4 vs. the ACC. One of Tech’s best all-time three-point shooters with 239 for his career, Morrow has hit 43.4 percent from that distance this season.

Bell, a 6-5 junior, provides good physical defense on the perimeter and can score when needed (three double-figure games in ACC play). He averages 6.3 points for the season, 7.6 vs. the ACC, and has shot 49.3 percent from the floor. Bell started four games at point guard in Miller’s absence and moved primarily to the wing as Miller and Causey developed into a solid tandem.

Smith, the team captain and a 6-8 forward from Fort Worth, Texas, is Tech’s second-leading scorer at 9.9 points per game and its leading rebounder at 6.9 per game (10th in the ACC). Smith has averaged 10.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in ACC games, and has reached double figures in points forfour straight games.

Lawal, a 6-8 rookie from Riverdale, Ga., averages 7.1 points and 3.8 rebounds while leading the Jackets in field goal percentage at 56.9.

Backcourt reserves — Clinch, a 6-3 guard from Cordele, Ga., has reached double-digits in scoring in 14 games this year, and is Tech’s second-leading scorer with 9.9 points per game, but has been inconsistent in ACC games (6.2 ppg, 34.3 pct. FG). Six-foot-4 freshman Lance Storrs of Decatur, Ga., averaging 1.3 points per game, has begun to see more significant playing time off the bench in the last several games as an additional perimeter defender.

Frontcourt reserves — Hewitt can go to 6-8 sophomore Zack Peacock of Miami, Fla., and 6-10 junior Alade Aminu of Stone Mountain, Ga. Peacock is Tech’s fourth-leading scorer (8.9) and No. 3 rebounder (4.1). Aminu, who started Tech’s first seven games of the season, has averaged 6.8 points and 4.3 rebounds while hitting 55.8 percent of his shots from the floor. Tech also has 6-11 red-shirt freshman Brad Sheehan of Latham, N.Y., who has played in two of the last three ACC games.

Quoting Coach Hewitt

On motivating his team at this point in the season — “Fortunately I don’t have to find things to motivate my team. These guys have played hard all year, and we have just come up on the short end of some really close games. In their minds and in our coaching staff’s minds, we still have time to reach our goal. It certainly does not look promising at this point, but at the same time, I am fortunate that I do not have to worry about motivating. They can pretty much motivate themselves coming out to play very hard every time out.”

On working younger players more toward the end of the season — “If you are asking if we are looking at next year, no we are not. We are focusing on Wednesday night; that is it. We just have to do it based on guys that are playing well. The counter to that is I have some seniors who have put in a lot of time and effort in our program, and they deserve their playing time.

On your outlook toward the remaining five regular-season games — “The way our season has gone, we have played competitively with everybody, and in our minds, we still have a chance to turn things around on Wednesday night. We have lost four games at home by a total of six points, and we have been very good on the road this year. With the exception of Miami, we have played particularly well. We played really well in Blacksburg, and we expect to play really well on Wednesday night.”

Hokies Even Season Series with Jackets

Behind a 29-point performance from freshman point guard Moe Miller, Georgia Tech led by as many as eight points in the first half. But the Yellow Jackets succumbed to foul trouble and were outrebounded 42-27 as the Hokies captured a 92-84 victory Saturday at Cassell Coliseum.

Georgia Tech was whistled for 34 fouls in the game, two players fouled out and three others finished the game with four. The Hokies cashed in by making 36 of 49 free throw attempts, and scored their final 14 points from the charity stripe. The 49 attempts were the third most ever taken against the Jackets.

A.D. Vassallo paced Virginia Tech with 34 points, including a pair of baskets that helped the Hokies erase a 22-16 first-half deficit. Anthony Morrow (18 points) and Jeremis Smith (15) scored in double figures for Georgia Tech.

Odd stat of the series — Matt Causey scored 30 points (9-of-14 FG) in the teams’ first meeting in Atlanta, but did not take a shot against the Hokies in Blacksburg. Moe Miller scored 29 points in Blacksburg (7-of-13 FG), but took just one shot against the Hokies in Atlanta (he made it).

Jackets Suddenly Struggle to Score

After a six-game stretch in which Georgia Tech averaged 84.5 points per game, shot 50 percent from the floor overall and 38.9 percent from three-point range, the Yellow Jackets have gone cold.

In its four straight losses, Tech has averaged 70.5 points, with a high game of 84 Saturday at Virginia Tech, made 43 percent of its field goal tries and 28 percent of its threes. The Jackets also have a minus-1.7 turnover margin during this streak after going plus-3.8 in the previous six games.

Tech also has had significantly fewer scoring opportunities in the last four games. Using a formula of field goal attempts + free throw attempts + turnovers minus offensive rebounds, the Jackets have averaged 80.1 offensive possessions in the last four games, 88.5 in the six games before that.

Tech remains among the ACC leaders in scoring average (fourth at 77.3) and field goal percentage (third at 47.1 pct.) for the season, and rank fourth (76.9) and first (47.6 pct.) in ACC games only.

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