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#TGW: Starting Five at No. 23 Miami

Jan. 27, 2015

By Jon Cooper
The Good Word

Georgia Tech heads to South Beach looking to get off the schneid in ACC play, visiting No. 23 Miami Wednesday night. Tip-off at the BankUnited Center is set for 9 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets fell to 0-7 in ACC play, dropping a 64-62 heartbreaker to Boston College Saturday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion. Six of the Jackets seven ACC losses have come by a total of 25 points. Marcus Georges-Hunt led the way with 20 and he tied Robert Sampson for the team lead with nine rebounds, while Quentin Stephens chipped in 17 off the bench, but the Jackets, who put on a furious late rally, could not pull it out late. Trailing 59-52 with 3:58 remaining, Tech went on a 7-0 run over the next 2:30 to tie the game at 59. Georges-Hunt scored five of the seven points. But BC answered, as nemesis Olivier Hanlan scored on a layup, then the Eagles converted a pair of free throws. Stephens hit a three with six seconds left to cut the deficit to one, and Tech got the ball one last time following a pair of missed BC free throws but could not score. After struggling offensively in the first half, both teams heated up in the second 20, as the Jackets shot nearly 43 percent in the second half while the Eagles shot over 59.

The Hurricanes are back in the Top 25 of both polls following a 66-62 win over Syracuse Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. The win was Miami’s fourth in its last five ga,es. Center Tonye Jekiri had a team-high 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for the Canes, who nailed 10 three-pointers. Angel Rodriguez added 12, and overcame a tough shooting day (2-for-11, 2-for-9 from behind the arc, 6-for-9 from the line) by handing out eight assists and making four steals. The game was tied at the break, but Miami opened the second half on a 16-6 run, then held off the Orange, who cut the lead to 60-59 with :52.6 left. Guard Davon Reed went 3-for-4 from three-point range, two of those coming in the second-half-opening run, as part of his 4-for-5 shooting night. He’s now shooting 69 percent (9-for-13) from three in ACC play.

Wednesday’s game will be the 19th meeting between the schools with the Yellow Jackets trailing 11-7 in the series. They are 3-5 all-time in Coral Gables and have lost 10 of 13 meetings since recording a series-high four-game winning streak. Tech has dropped four of five meetings under Brian Gregory, but the win came in the last visit on March 6, 2013.

The game can be seen on RSN (Fox Sports South in Georgia) with Tim Brando and Eddie Fogler on the call and online on ESPN3. It also can be heard on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, (680 AM and 93.7 FM, with Brandon Gaudin and Randy Waters on the call and via Satellite Radio on Sirius (Channel 136). Up-to-the-minute stats are available on

And now, the Starting Five for Wednesday night’s game.

The Last Time We Met: A short-handed Georgia Tech squad battled, but was outgunned, 56-42, last Jan. 18 at McCamish Pavilion. With Robert Carter Jr., Jason Morris and Solomon Poole unavailable, Trey Golden led the Jackets with 12 and Marcus Georges-Hunt added 10, with six rebounds, but Tech shot only 29.5 percent and made only two of 10 three-point tries. The Jackets hung around, trailing 19-17 with 3:40 to play in the first half after a Quentin Stephens three-pointer, but UM closed the half on an 8-0 run then scored the first seven of the second half to open up a 34-17 lead. A 7-0 run got the Jackets within nine with 5:23 to play, but they’d get no closer against a Miami team that ranked ninth in the nation in scoring.

Deja Vu All Over Again?: Georgia Tech’s 0-7 start in ACC play is the longest losing streak to start conference play since the 2001-02 season. While these Jackets would have preferred not to have to recount that season, they certainly wouldn’t mind ending their season the way that team did. Not only did the 2001-02 Jackets halt their skid at seven, they did it the final week of January (Jan. 30), against a Florida-based team (Florida State) and lost only two more conference games the rest of the way.

Tech Trivia: Which current Yellow Jacket had his career-high scoring game in Georgia Tech’s 71-69 win at No. 6 Miami on March 6, 2013?

The Mighty Quinton: Quinton Stephens bounced back from his 0-fer night at Virginia and once again seems to have found the range…and it’s long range. Stephens nailed four three-pointers against Boston College as part of his 17 points — both are the most since the season-opener against Georgia. He heads into play Wednesday as the team leader in three-point field goals made (27) and three-point shooting percentage (.360). With his 17 points against the Eagles — tied for the most points off the bench by a Jacket this season (Tadric Jackson did it on Nov. 27 vs. Marquette) — Stephens has three double-figure-scoring games in his last five. That matches the sophomore forward’s total from last season and is one more than he had over his previous 14 games. Stephens, who started the first 11 games, went for 22 in the opener and 13 two games later against IPFW but then went 11 straight game scoring in single digits. His 7.2 points per game rank fourth on the team and double his total from last season, while his 5.2 ppg in ACC play are up a point from his freshman campaign.

The Legend of Sampson: Robert Sampson has been holding court in the paint all season long. The redshirt senior, who came into this season averaging 5.8 rebounds a game, is pulling in 6.3 boards a game (18th in the ACC). That’s second behind only Charles Mitchell (7.5). His 120 rebounds also are second behind Mitchell (142), while his 36 offensive rebounds are tied for third behind Mitchell (72) and Demarco Cox (48) and are even with Georges-Hunt. Following a slow start to conference play, Sampson has become the man on the boards. He’s pulled down 30 rebounds over the last four games (7.5 rpg), more than anyone on the team. His nine caroms against BC matched his season high, set Nov. 27 against Marquette, when he also pulled in three offensive and six defensive boards. He’s been a consistent presence grabbing at least five rebounds in 16 of Tech’s 19 games.

The Sixth Man: Josh Heath made his second three-pointer of the season against Boston College and first since Nov. 18 against Alabama A&M. While that’s a long time between threes, it’s obvious that hitting the three is anything but an active pursuit for him. In the 16 games between three-point field goals, Heath took only five three-pointers and never more than one in a game…Heath’s passing up the three coincides with his passing to teammates and taking care of the ball. He enters Wednesday’s game with a team-leading 57 assists (3.0 per game, 21st in the ACC). His 5.7 assists per 40 minutes are 10th. Heath has committed only 31 turnovers (1.6 per game) and sports a 1.84 assists-to-turnovers ratio…Fellow point Travis Jorgenson has been similarly effective. Jorgenson averages 3.1 assists per game vs. only 1.4 turnovers, a 2.20 assists-to-turnover ratio. His 6.1 assists per 40 minutes ranks fourth in the conference…Tech Trivia Answer: Then-freshman Chris Bolden went for 21 points in the dramatic victory at Miami. In that game, Bolden also matched his career highs for three-point field goals made (four) and attempted (eight). The win, which came on a Georges-Hunt buzzer-beating tip-in, was Brian Gregory’s first win over a Top 25 team as Yellow Jackets’ head coach…Georgia Tech’s plus-8 edge in second-chance points against BC matched its largest margin in ACC play. They also were plus-8 Jan. 3 at Notre Dame (17-9) and Jan. 17 at Pittsburgh (19-11)…The Jackets’ 18 points off turnovers against BC were the most in an ACC game this season and were only two off the season-high, set Nov. 18 against Alabama A&M. They had 12 total over the previous three games.

GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER: Marcus Georges-Hunt, 12.9 ppg
MIAMI SCORING LEADER: Sheldon McLellan, 15.0 ppg

GEORGIA TECH SCORING LEADER (ACC): Marcus Georges-Hunt, 13.0 ppg
MIAMI SCORING LEADER (ACC): Angel Rodriguez, 16.0 ppg

MIAMI REBOUNDING LEADER: Tonye Jekiri, 10.3 rpg

MIAMI REBOUNDING LEADER (ACC): Tonye Jekiri, 12.5 rpg

GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Travis Jorgenson, 3.1 apg
MIAMI ASSISTS LEADER: Angel Rodriguez, 4.6 apg

GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Travis Jorgenson, 2.9 apg
MIAMI ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Angel Rodriguez, 5.5 apg

GEORGIA TECH PPG: 63.5/57.7 ppg
OPP. PPG: 63.6/65.4 ppg

MIAMI PPG: 61.8/68.0 ppg
OPP. PPG: 62.7/69.3 ppg

MIAMI Player To Watch: Angel Rodriguez: The explosive 5-11, 180-pound redshirt junior point guard is dynamic as a scorer, a distributor and a defender. The Cupey, P.R., native and Kansas State transfer is on both the Oscar Robertson Award (National Player of the Year) and Bob Cousy Award (Point Guard of the Year) Watch Lists and is the “Angel of Death” to opponents on either end of the floor. He’s a 35.1 percent shooter from three, making 2.1 three-point field goals per game (both 10th in the ACC), and a 76.2 shooter from the line, Rodriguez does most of his damage in the second half as he scores more than 9.0 points (he averages 5.1 in the first half), nearly doubles his shooting percentage, shoots eight points better from three and has more assists. That’s just his scoring. He also gets his teammates involved, as he hands out 4.6 assists per game (sixth in the ACC), has 33 assists vs. only 10 turnovers in ACC play, has a 2.3 assists-to-turnover ratio (eighth in the conference) and has not turned the ball over more than three times in a game despite playing better than 31 minutes a game. There’s no let-up on the defensive end, as he’s making an ACC-leading 2.2 steals per game.

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