Can Tech Upset State?

Already saddled with a four-game losing streak, the Yellow Jackets embarked on a tough two-game ACC road trip. But suddenly there was plenty of optimism surrounding this undermanned team.

That's because Tech, playing the rugged, hustling style coach Brian Gregory prefers, nearly upset Duke on Jan. 7, before falling 81-74.

"When you play with that energy and that team attitude, it doesn't always guarantee success, but in the long run you are going to be highly successful," Gregory said after his team outrebounded Duke 38-26.

"Our guys don't always buy into that but that is where we're at right now. We played against a highly talented and very well-coached team and we put ourselves into a position where we could win in the last three minutes."

The coach, stressed, however, that there are no moral victories.

"I told our guys, this is Georgia Tech, the tradition is one of the best," he said. "We don't feel good because we came close. We also understand the steps we need to take as a program, where this is the way we should play night in and night out. In terms of importance in building confidence, it would have been a lot better if we won the game, but what our guys need to understand is that we have to play the same Monday in practice because that is what all the good programs do."

Leading scorer Glen Rice Jr. re-emerged with a career-high tying 28 points, making several tough shots to keep it close down the stretch. He also grabbed eight rebounds. Rice can be one of the ACC's best when dialed in.

If the Jackets keep playing with that type of energy, and if Rice shows more consistency, the Jackets could scratch out several ACC wins.

-- Backup PG Pierre Jordan is regaining his form following outpatient surgery a month ago, and his increased role is helping starter Mfon Udofia. With Jordan playing 14 minutes vs. Duke and Glen Rice Jr. doing some of the ball-handling, Udofia was able to play off the ball some. Udofia is more of a scoring guard than a point guard. He poured in 19 points vs. Duke on 6-of-9 shooting.

-- Tech has lost four straight to Duke, and 12 of its last 14 home games against the Blue Devils. -- The Jackets entered the Jan. 7 game vs. Duke ranked fourth in the ACC in rebounding margin (+6.4). They outrebounded the Blue Devils 38-26, getting 15 offensive boards.

-- The Jackets entered the Jan. 7 game vs. Duke as the ACC's worst 3-point shooting team, but nailed 6 of 13 from beyond the arc.

BY THE NUMBERS: 50.4 -- That was Glen Rice Jr.'s shooting percentage, which ranks sixth in the ACC. Most of the top 10 are post players. It's another indication that when Rice is engaged and aggressive, the Jackets can compete in the ACC. If he's not focused, Tech likely will get blown out. Rice followed up two no-show performances with a career-high-tying 28 points vs. Duke on 10-of-17 shooting.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have been practicing better. We are a much different practice team than we were three months ago. Unfortunately, because of where we're at, it doesn't always equate to wins. We are getting better; it is not where it needs to be though. And we have a little greater attention to detail." -- Tech coach Brian Gregory

--at N.C. State, Jan. 11
The Wolfpack had the ACC's third-most prolific offense (77.3 points per game) through Saturday, and led the conference in free-throw shooting (75.2 percent). Tech needs to stay out of foul trouble and keep the game at a manageable pace. Jackets F Kammeon Holsey must contain Pack F C.J. Leslie (13 ppg, 6.2 rpg).

--at Maryland, Jan. 15
Terps G Terrell Stoglin led the ACC in scoring (21.2) through Saturday and was hitting 42 percent from beyond the arc. The Jackets don't have a defensive stopper, but have played excellent team defense. Look for Mfon Udofia, Glen Rice Jr., Jason Morris and possibly Brandon Reed to take turns guarding Stoglin.

FUTURES MARKET: Former Kentucky G Stacey Poole has transferred to Tech and should be eligible for the second semester next season. The 6-4 guard played 45 minutes at Kentucky as a freshman last season and decided to transfer in November before playing in any games this season. He was a top-35 prospect in the class of 2010.

The Jackets only have one freshman on their roster, Julian Royal. But coach Brian Gregory has four highly rated recruits on the way next season.

The impressive recruiting class is a big reason why fans will be patient with Gregory even if Tech finishes near the bottom of the ACC.

-- Swingman Glen Rice Jr. tied his career-high with 28 points in the 81-74 loss to Duke on Jan. 7. Rice hit 10 of 17 shots, including 4 of 7 3-pointers. Rice also scored 28 vs. Miami last February.

-- Backup PG Pierre Jordan, who had three assists, three rebounds and two points in 14 minutes vs. Duke, is a couple weeks away from being at full strength, according to coach Brian Gregory. Jordan underwent outpatient surgery in early December.

-- F Julian Royal's role continues to grow. In the Jan. 7 loss to Duke, Royal played 25 minutes and grabbed six rebounds to go with 4 points and 1 assist. The 6-7, 230-pounder is Tech's lone freshman.

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