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#TGW: Starting Five: Georgia Tech @ No. 8/6 North Carolina

Jan. 10, 2015

By Jon Cooper | The Good Word

– Georgia Tech goes for its third straight win in ACC play, but will have its hands full, visiting No. 8/6 North Carolina. It’s the Jackets’ second game against a top-10 team in nine days. Tip-off at Carmichael Arena is set for 3:00 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets made it back-to-back wins Thursday night, holding off Boston College, 80-77, at Conte Forum. Kaela Davis scored a game-high 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting, including hitting a jumper with 2:08 left that broke a 76-76 tie, the 11th of the game (there also were 10 lead changes), and the Yellow Jackets defense denied the Eagles on their final two trips to secure the program’s 600th victory. Georgia Tech appeared to be in control, as a 16-6 first-half run made it 27-13 midway through the first half but the Eagles responded with a 16-2 run of their own to take the lead and took a 39-38 lead into the half. The game remained tight in the second half, as both teams led by as much as four but neither led by more than that and the game see-sawed with eight ties and seven lead-changes. Junior guard Aaliyah Whiteside added 20 points and freshman Zaire O’Neil chipped in 15, including a key putback on a missed Whiteside free throw with 1:02 remaining, to give Tech its final margin of victory. B.C. had two possessions to tie, but could not convert on either three-point attempt.

The Tar Heels will try to bounce back from their first loss in ACC play, an 84-59 thrashing Thursday night in Pittsburgh, that ended their five-game winning streak. Sophomore guard Allisha Gray had 19 points and 14 rebounds, but the Tar Heels were hurt by cold shooting, as they shot 30.8 percent on the night. Carolina trailed 27-26 with 5:00 minutes left in the half, but a 27-8 run burst over the final five minutes of the first half and first five of the second allowed the Panthers to open a 54-34 lead and the Heels never got closer than 11. Carolina was beaten 54-42 on the boards, allowing 20 offensive rebounds, which led to an 18-10 edge in second-chance points, and committed 17 turnovers, contributing to 15 points. UNC had only seven points off 13 Panther miscues.

Sunday’s game will be the 72nd meeting between the schools in a series that dates back to 1980. North Carolina has dominated, winning 53 of the 71 previous games on the strength of a 17-game winning streak to start the series then separate 13- and 12-game streaks — the last nine games of the latter ushering in the MaChelle Joseph Era. Things have improved for Georgia Tech under Joseph, as the the Jackets have won six of the last eight meetings, including a streak of five straight between 2010 and 2012.

The game can be seen on RSN and ESPN3 with LaChina Robinson and Tom Werme on the call. Jackets fans can listen to the game on WREK, 91.1 FM, or online at with Richard Musterer and Hannah Joy on the call. Fans can get live stats on and also can get instant updates by following the team on Twitter at @GTWBB and can get more information on the team by liking them on Facebook, GTWomensBasketball.

And now, the Starting Five for Sunday afternoon’s game.

The Last Time We Met: In the lone meeting between GT and UNC, on Feb. 6, 2014 at McCamish Pavilion, Ty Marshall scored 32 points and became Georgia Tech’s all-time leading scorer, leading the Yellow Jackets to a 94-91 upset of the No. 13 Tar Heels. Marshall hit three free throws in the final 11 seconds to seal the game after Kaela Davis’ layup with 27 seconds remaining gave the Jackets a 91-90 lead. The final two FTMs made Marshall Tech’s all-time scoring leader. Davis had a huge game, going for 20 points and 10 rebounds, her second straight double-double and sixth of the season, while adding two assists, three blocked shots and two steals. The late heroics didn’t appear to be necessary, as the Jackets led 87-79 with 2:44 to play. But the Tar Heels went on an 11-2 run to take a 90-89 lead with 36 seconds remaining. Tech led by as much as nine in the first half but trailed by one at the break. After three ties and five lead changes in the first 4:32 minutes of the second half, the Jackets stretched the lead to 10 with 6:40 to go and led by eight with 2:44 left. Sydney Wallace added 14 points and Aaliyah Whiteside 10, with 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals. Dawnn Maye had a team-high four thefts.

Coaching Clinicians: When Georgia Tech and North Carolina meet one thing is for certain: it’s going to be a well-coached game as GT’s MaChelle Joseph and UNC’s Sylvia Hatchell rank among the winningest in the ACC. Joseph and Hatchell come into the game with a combined 1,174 wins and .713 winning percentage (1,174-1,646). It’s been a momentous week for Joseph, as she became the winningest coach in Georgia Tech history on Jan. 4, with a 74-66 win over Clemson at McCamish Pavilion. The victory gave her 224 on the Flats, one more than her predecessor Agnus Berenato. Then, on Wednesday, she coached the program’s 600th win, when Tech won at Boston College, 80-77. Hatchell, the winningest active coach in the Basketball Hall of Fame (Class of 2013) and easily the winningest coach in Tar Heels Women’s Basketball history, is gunning for career win No. 950. She’ll count down to 1,000 career wins and 700 at UNC next season, her 41st overall and 30th at Chapel Hill. Of course, Hatchell won a bigger battle in May 2014 as she completed treatments in her fighting against leukemia. Joseph comes into Sunday’s game 7-13 against Carolina and Hatchell but has won six of the last eight meetings, including five straight from Feb. 26, 2010 through March 2, 2012 and since 2009. Few wins in games between the two have come easy, as six of the 11 games have been decided by four points or less — Tech is 5-1 in those games.

At The Edge of 17: Aaliyah Whiteside has been red-hot but appeared to be stuck on 17 heading into Wednesday’s game at Boston College, as she’d scored 17 points in three straight games. Whiteside ended her streak of 17-point games on Wednesday, and in a good way. She put in an extra three points, coincidentally the margin of victory over the Eagles. A streak that Whiteside continued against B.C., and would like to continue as long as she can, is her run of games shooting at least 50 percent. She is shooting .513 over her last three games (26-for-56) and has made at least six field goals in each of the last four games. Aaliyah also has had the touch from the perimeter, shooting .444 (8-for-18). Whiteside has been strong on the boards, as she’s grabbed 30 rebounds over the last four games (7.5 rpg).

Steal Magnolias: Freshman Imani Tilford and Whiteside have proven master thieves for the Jackets. Since getting regular minutes over the last five games, starting with the Georgia Tech Holiday Tournament, Tilford has come up with 16 steals (3.2 steals per game), including making five on two occasions, first on Dec. 30, against Louisiana Tech at McCamish Pavilion, then on Wednesday night at Boston College. She has 13 assists in that span (2.6 apg) and 14 rebounds (2.8) in 25.6 minutes per game. Whiteside also has shown quick hands, as her one steal at B.C. gave her at least one in each of her last nine games (18 overall).

The Big Rejector:
Freshman forward Zaire O’Neil enjoyed her first career multi-blocks game on Wednesday at B.C. The two blocks gave her eight for the season and at least one rejection in each of the last five games. O’Neil has a team-high four blocks in three ACC games and her eight on the season rank fourth, behind team leader Nariah Taylor (11) and Katarina Vuckovic and Roddreka Rogers, each of whom has nine. Zaire had a total of two blocks over her first 11 games.

The Sixth Man:
Of Georgia Tech’s 33 wins all-time against ranked teams, nine have come at the expense of North Carolina. That’s the most against any team. Of those nine wins, five have come in the MaChelle Joseph Era, including two of the Jackets’ three wins all-time in Chapel Hill…Wednesday night’s win at Boston College marked the first time this season that the Yellow Jackets won when trailing at the half. They had been 0-3 in such games. They also evened their record at 1-1 in games decided by three points or less. The Jackets also raised their record to 12-0 when leading with 10 minutes to play and went to 1-0 when tied with 5:00 remaining…The Yellow Jackets are 2-1 in their first three ACC games, yet have not won points in the paint or points off turnovers in any of the three games. They’d went 10-2 in PIPs in their 13 non-conference games (one was even), and won points off turnovers in 12 of 13 games and 11 straight heading into ACC play…Davis’ two three-point field goals Wednesday gave her 126 for her career and moved her past assistant coach Metra Walthour, who made 125 from 2009-12, and into eighth place all-time. Next for Davis is Megan Isom, who made 135 from 2002 through 2004. The two 3’s gave Kaela 10 games with at least two three-point field goals. She’s hit at least one three-pointer in 15 straight games and in 16 of 17 this season.


NORTH CAROLINA SCORING LEADER (ACC): Stephanie Mavunga, 17.5 ppg


NORTH CAROLINA REBOUNDING LEADER: Allisha Gray, Stephanie Mavunga, 8.3 rpg

GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER: Aaliyah Whiteside, 2.5 apg
GEORGIA TECH ASSISTS LEADER (ACC): Aaliyah Whiteside, 4.0 apg


OPPONENT: 65.2/72.7 ppg

OPPONENT: 62.1/70.0 ppg

NORTH CAROLINA PLAYER TO WATCH: Allisha Gray – It’s really a pick `em between the 6-0 sophomore guard and 6-3 sophomore forward Stephanie Mavunga, so we’re going with Gray. There’s nothing the Wade Trophy-, Wooden Award- and Naismith Award watch-lister can’t do. She scores the ball (11 straight double-digit-scoring games and 15 in 16 games this season), she scores from three (her .376 career three-point shooting percentage ranks third all-time in North Carolina history), she rebounds (she’s tied with Mavunga for the team lead), and she passes (her 2.4 assists per game are tied for second on the team).She also plays defense, as her 25 steals lead the team, and she’s even tied for second in blocked shots (although, her nine blocks are a long way off Mavunga’s team-leading 43). Gray has led the Tar Heels in scoring nine times, in rebounding seven times (including each of the last three games) in assists four times, in points and rebounds four times, in points and assists three times and in points, rebounds and assists once. The Sandersville, Ga., native gave the Jackets fits last year, scoring 20 points and pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds, including a team-high four off the offensive glass.

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