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Virginia Tech (11-6, 2-1 ACC) at Georgia Tech (7-9, 0-3 ACC)

Saturday, January 19, 2008, 1:00

TV: RLF Split (click here for station listings)

Special Preview Items:

Virginia Tech will look to extend their ACC winning streak to three games when they travel to Atlanta to take on a struggling Georgia Tech team. The Yellow Jackets are 7-9 overall and 0-3 in the ACC, and they'll be hungry for their first conference victory of the season.

Georgia Tech is a strange team. They started the season with an 83-74 home loss to the same UNC-Greensboro team that managed just 39 points in Cassell Coliseum on December 4. Make no mistake about it however, the Jackets are more than capable of winning basketball games.

They've played a very tough schedule, with out-of-conference games against Indiana, Vanderbilt and Kansas. Vanderbilt was undefeated until recently, and Kansas is one of the top three teams in the nation. Georgia Tech nearly knocked off the Jayhawks, but eventually fell 71-66. The Yellow Jackets also played #1 UNC very close on Wednesday night, losing 83-82 at home.

Overall Georgia Tech has lost four of their last five games, with their lone win coming against Presbyterian 77-64.

Georgia Tech Probable Starters
Pos Name Ht Wt Year PPG RPG Assists
G Matt Causey 6-0 186 r-Sr. 5.1 1.3 60
G Lewis Clinch 6-3 195 Jr. 12.4 2.2 28
G Anthony Morrow 6-5 210 Sr. 14.9 5.1 17
F Gani Lawal 6-8 216 Fr. 6.9 3.9 4
F Jeremis Smith 6-8 236 Sr. 10.1 7.2 38

The Yellow Jackets are led by their upperclassmen. Senior wing Anthony Morrow is the team's leading scorer and ranks second in rebounding. Morrow is most dangerous from the outside. He is connecting on 45.9% of his three-pointers this year, tops on a team that is very dangerous from the outside. Morrow is good with the basketball. He leads Georgia Tech in minutes, but he has just 16 turnovers in 16 games.

Junior guard Lewis Clinch joins Morrow on the perimeter. They are a formidable duo on the outside. Clinch is shooting 37.9% from the outside on the year, and he is capable of getting hot. He does have a bad assist-to-turnover ratio for a guard, with 28 assists and 44 turnovers.

Senior forward Jeremis Smith gives the Yellow Jackets a good inside-out game. He is averaging 10.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. His 38 assists on the year show his outstanding passing ability as a forward. At 6-8, 236, Smith is a bull on the inside. He's a very physical player. Watching him and Jeff Allen battle it out on the boards should be a treat. Allen must play smart and stay out of foul trouble, because Smith will take it right to the hoop.

Matt Causey and Maurice Miller split time at the point guard position. Causey is a r-senior who sat out last season after transferring from North Georgia. He's a smart, heady player who leads the Yellow Jackets in assists with 60 despite only playing 16.9 minutes per game. Causey can hit the open jumper. He's shooting 44.1% from the outside this year.

Miller is a freshman who has started four games, getting 17.7 minutes per game. He's still getting his feet wet in ACC basketball. He's shooting just 28.6% from the field in three ACC games.

Junior Alade Aminu and freshman Gani Lawal split time at the other forward spot. Both players play less than 20 minutes per game, but they are capable of scoring. Aminu averages 7.5 points per game, with Lawal contributing 6.9. Sophomore forward Zach Peacock will also play a lot. He averages 8.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Overall Georgia Tech is a very solid, very balanced offensive team. So why are they the only ACC team with a losing overall record? If you read the following table closely, you'll be able to tell.

VT vs. GT

Stat ACC Rank Stat ACC Rank
FG% 43.80% 11 46.80% 4 GT
FG% Defense 38.70% 3 45.40% 12 VT
3-Pt. % 34.40% 9 37.70% 6 GT
3-Pt. % Defense 32.80% 6 35.60% 12 VT
FT% 69% 10 70% 8 GT
Rebounding Margin +4.8 5 +2.6 9 VT
Turnover Margin +0.35 8 +0.94 6 GT
Assist/TO Ratio 0.92 9 1.01 6 GT
Scoring Offense 67.4 11 76.6 6 GT
Scoring Defense 59.5 1 73.8 12 VT
Average - 7.3 - 8.1 VT

The Yellow Jackets play terrible team defense. They are dead last in the ACC in the three most important defensive categories: scoring defense, field goal percentage defense and three-point percentage defense. In fact, they aren't even close to getting out of the basement in scoring defense and field goal percentage defense.

It's amazing that a team that plays three seniors and three juniors as part of their regular rotation is so bad defensively. The Hokies play six freshmen as part of their regular rotation, but they are first in the ACC in scoring defense and third in field goal percentage defense. Tech is the only team in the ACC allowing less than 60 points per game, and one of just four that force opponents to shoot less than 40%

If you look at the table above, Georgia Tech holds the advantage in six of the 10 categories, but they are so far behind the Hokies in each defensive category that VT holds the overall advantage.

Virginia Tech also holds an advantage on the boards. If the Hokies continue to play good defense and they can beat the Jackets on the boards, they'll have a good chance to manufacture enough points against a bad Georgia Tech defense to get another road win.

It should be a great game that can go either way, as are most ACC games. If the Hokies can win this one and go to 3-1 in the ACC, that would be huge for such a young team, especially with three of their first four conference games being on the road.