Dec. 19, 2002
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech looks for its first win on an opponent’s home court Saturday with a 12 noon visit to Syracuse, which will be nationally televised on ESPN.
The game can also be heard on the Georgia Tech-ISP Radio Network, in Atlanta on WQXI-AM (790) and WMGP-FM (98.1).
The game is a return match for the visit to Atlanta last season by the Orangemen, a 96-80 victory for Tech at Philips Arena. This is the Yellow Jackets’ first visit to the Carrier Dome, and Tech brings a 5-1 record into the game. Syracuse is 5-1 this season.
The Yellow Jackets are just 1-2 away from home this season, including a pair of one-point losses to Minnesota on Dec. 4 and Tennessee last Sunday at Philips Arena. Tech is coming off an 88-66 home win over Troy State on Tuesday night in which it set season highs for three-point shooting (14-for-24, 58.3 pct.) and recorded its highest point total since the season-opening 113-74 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
“Our guys have stayed positive,” said head coach Paul Hewitt, whose Jackets lost to Tennessee on a 50-foot shot at the final buzzer after leading the entire game. “We played a good game in both halves Tuesday night, and started to move the ball well on offense. We really moved the ball well in the second half and got some quality shots. We need to get a big win, preferably on the road, which is what we’ve got coming up. We’re in good shape mentally.”
Tech is 6-14 on opponents’ home courts under head coach Paul Hewitt and 13-19 in road and neutral games combined. This is Tech’s second trip to the state of New York in two weeks, following a 67-53 win over Marist on Dec. 7 at Madison Square Garden.
“They have a team that’s very strong off the dribble,” Hewitt said of the Orangemen. “[Freshman] Carmelo Anthony goes to the line nine times a game. He’s getting fouled because he goes strong off the dribble. We want to do some things defensively to make them shoot from the outside.”
Hewitt has used three different starting lineups this season. On Tuesday against Troy State, Tech returned to the lineup it envisioned at the outset of the season, with Jarrett Jack, B.J. Elder and Marvin Lewis in the backcourt and Ed Nelson and Chris Bosh in the frontcourt. Bosh and Jack, both freshmen, are the only two Tech players to start all seven games. Elder, who had a sore foot during the pre-season and missed the opener, did not start his first game until Dec. 4 at Minnesota.
Elder, a 6-4 sophomore, has had the hot hand for Tech in the last two games, averaging 23.0 points while hitting 16-of-30 from the floor against Tennessee and Troy State. Elder has also made 11-of-16 from three-point range, and has assumed the team scoring lead at 17.2 points a game. Bosh, a 6-10 freshman who posted double figures in scoring and rebounding in Tech’s first five games, averages 15.1 points and leads the ACC in rebounding at 10.9 per game.
Lewis, a 6-4 sharpshooting junior, averages 10.4 points per game but has struggled from three-point range (33.3 percent), while Nelson, a 6-8 sophomore who was the 2002 ACC Rookie of the Year, averages 9.7 points and 7.1 rebounds. Both players returned to the starting lineup Tuesday after a three-game absence. Jack, a 6-3 freshman, averages 9.6 points and ranks sixth in the ACC at 6.4 assists per game, and has shot 46.2 percent from three-point range.
Tech gets help off the bench from 6-6 sophomore forward Isma’il Muhammad, who has started six games and averages 9.6 points and 5.3 rebounds, and 7-1 sophomore center Luke Schenscher, who averages 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds and leads the Yellow Jackets in field goal percentage (58.8). Anthony McHenry, a 6-7 sophomore averaging 2.0 points and 2.0 rebounds, provides excellent defense on the wing. Robert Brooks, a 6-8 junior averaging 0.9 points and 1.6 rebounds per game, and 6-9 freshman Theodis Tarver (2.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg) add depth in the frontcourt.
Georgia Tech has won both prior meetings with Syracuse, including a 96-80 victory last December at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The Orangemen, ranked 13th at the time, played the game without head coach Jim Boeheim on the bench. Techs leading scorers in that game (Clarence Moore with 20, Tony Akins with 18) have both departed. Marvin Lewis and Robert Brooks each added 17 for the Yellow Jackets.
The teams’ first meeting also occurred in Atlanta, in the second round of the 1985 NCAA East Regional at the old Omni arena. Tech, coming off its first ACC Championship, won that game 70-53 behind 18 points from Mark Price and 10 points and 10 rebounds from Bruce Dalrymple and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight before falling to Georgetown.
Shooters Find Range Against Troy State
Georgia Tech reached 80 points Tuesday night for the first time since its Nov. 27 win over Georgia. The Yellow Jackets scored 44 points in each half against Troy State, shot a season-high 55.2 percent from the floor in the game and made 14 of 24 three-point attempts. Tech also assisted on 26 of its 32 field goals.
The Jackets have struggled offensively since that win over Georgia, averaging just 68.5 points over the last four games prior to Troy State. But Tech has shot the ball better in its last three outings, hitting an even 50 percent.
Tech has found the iron much kinder at home this year, shooting 47.3 percent from the floor, 43.2 percent from three-point range and 62.6 percent from the free throw line at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
Elder Gets the Hot Hand
B.J. Elder, Tech’s 6-4 sophomore guard, has turned hot in Georgia Techs last two games, scoring 21 points against Tennessee and matching his career high of 25 Tuesday night against Troy State. He hit 11 of 16 three-point attempts in the two games combined, including 6-of-8 against the Trojans.
The Madison, Ga., native has assumed the team lead in scoring at 17.2 points a game, and has improved his shooting percentages to 53.8 from three-point range (which leads the ACC) and 48.1 percent overall (seventh in the ACC). He ranks fifth in the ACC in scoring, and leads in three-pointers per game (3.50).
Elder, an ACC all-Freshman choice a year ago, has reached double figures in five of the six games he has played since missing the opener with a sore foot. In Tuesday nights game, he made all four of his second-half three-point attempts, and had a career-high seven assists with just one turnover in 30 minutes.
Against Georgia, which was his previous high game this season (24 points), he made 10 of 18 field goals and was 4-of-9 from three-point range. His final three-pointer gave Tech the lead for good at 79-77 with 1:50 to go. He sat the rest of the game after suffering leg cramps. Sunday against Tennessee, he went 5-of-8 from beyond the stripe.
Half-Nelson Returns Home
David Nelson, in his second season as a walk-on point guard for the Yellow Jackets, returns home to Syracuse Saturday and was the subject of a feature story in Thursdays Syracuse Post-Standard.
The 5-10 Nelson, affectionately known as Half-Nelson to distinguish him from 6-8 teammate Ed Full Nelson, has played in nine games for Tech, five last year, four this year, and has yet to score a point. He and senior David Ewing both walked on the team last year after teaming up to win a Georgia Tech intramural championship in 2000-01.
Nelson, the salutatorian of his graduating class at Henninger High School, is a Dean’s List student majoring in mechanical engineering.
9.5 Seconds and Two Points
Georgia Tech is 9.5 seconds and two points from being undefeated. Both of Tech’s losses occurred by a single point, away from home, and could have been significant non-conference wins for the Yellow Jackets.
Minnesota, ranked 20th in the Associated Press poll at the time, scored a basket with nine seconds left to take a 64-63 lead. Tech had the ball last, and almost didnt get a shot off, but Marvin Lewis recovered a loose ball and tried a long three-pointer that rattled out at the buzzer.
Sunday against Tennessee, Tech’s B.J. Elder made one of two free throws with 0.5 seconds left for a 69-67 lead. But the Volunteers Ron Slay inbounded the ball to halfcourt, where Jon Higgins launched a desperation heave that swished at the buzzer for the victory.
In both games, Tech held the lead for most of the game. The Jackets led by 13 points (62-49) with 7:25 to go against Tennessee, but did not score a field goal the rest of the way. Tech led Minnesota, 49-42, with 10:40 left before the Gophers scored 11 straight points coming out of a timeout.