Previewing Georgia Tech

North Carolina plays host to Georgia Tech on Sunday. New coach Brian Gregory's Yellow Jackets have lost eight of their last nine games. Tip-off at the Smith Center is set for 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

North Carolina (17-3, 4-1) vs. Georgia Tech (8-12, 1-5)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
6:00pm -- ESPNU


"One of our Achilles' heels all year long is the ability to defend the ball. When we defend it well, we've done a good job of that. In the last couple games, we haven't been as consistent as we've needed to be. We knew this stretch was going to be very difficult, this month of January. We just need to keep fighting and keep getting better." – Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory following his team's loss to Miami last week


Season to Date: Georgia Tech enters Sunday's game with an 8-12 (1-5 ACC) record. The Yellow Jackets' best victory of the season came at N.C. State (82-71) on Jan. 11, but the worst loss is tougher to determine. First-year head coach Brian Gregory's squad dropped nonconference games to St. Joseph's (66-53), Tulane (57-52), Mercer (65-59) and Fordham (72-66), among others. Georgia Tech has lost eight of its last nine games, including a 32-point loss against Virginia and a 15-point defeat at home to Miami on Tuesday.

Rice Providing Offensive Spark: The Yellow Jackets have struggled to put the ball in the basket this season (40.4 FG%, 9th in ACC play), but junior Glen Rice, Jr. has emerged as an offensive weapon, averaging 15.8 points per game on 45.1 percent shooting in conference play. The 6-foot-5 wing tied his career-high with 28 points against Duke and nearly single-handedly brought his team back against Clemson, scoring 15 straight points in the final four minutes to cut the Tigers' 16-point lead to two. Rice leads the team in rebounding (6.6) and ranks second in assists (2.5).

Solid Size Paying Dividends: Georgia Tech ranks fourth in ACC play in rebounding margin (plus-1.2), rebounding defense (32.7) and blocks (4.0). While 6-foot-11 center Daniel Miller is responsible for 10 of the Yellow Jackets' 24 blocks in league play, the rebounding credit belongs to the entire roster. Eight different players are averaging at least two rebounds per game.

Defensive Stats Deceiving: A quick look at the ACC statistical standings would lead you to believe that the Yellow Jackets are one of the better defensive teams in the league. In the overall rankings, Georgia Tech stands fifth in field goal percentage defense (39.6) and seventh in 3-point field goal percentage defense (33.1). It's also worth mentioning that Tech has held 11 opponents under 40 percent shooting on the season. But a closer look at conference play statistics shows that the Yellow Jackets rank ninth in field goal percentage defense (44.2) and 10th in 3.point field goal percentage defense (37.1).

Gregory Takes Over: When Georgia Tech officials finally decided to eat the Paul Hewitt's ridiculous contract last spring, they moved quickly to hire eight-year Dayton head coach Brian Gregory. The Chicago native directed the Flyers to a 172-94 record, two NCAA Tournaments and three NITs, which Dayton won in 2010 by defeating North Carolina at Madison Square Garden. Gregory is a member of the Jud Heathcote/Tom Izzo coaching tree at Michigan State.

First Half Struggles: In its last four games, Georgia Tech has averaged 19.3 points on 29.1 percent shooting (30-of-103) in the first half.

Random Fact of the Day: Georgia Tech is responsible for UNC head coach Roy Williams' worst winning percentage – 42.9 (6-8) – against an ACC school since his return to Chapel Hill.

Last Meeting: Georgia Tech throttled North Carolina, 78-58, on Jan. 16, 2011, at Alexander Memorial Coliseum in Atlanta. Iman Shumpert and Rice combined for 54 points against UNC, while John Henson and Harrison Barnes paced the Tar Heels with 11 points each. North Carolina delivered its worst shooting percentage (27.6) since 1955.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with Georgia Tech, 60-24. The Yellow Jackets have won four in a row and 10 of the last 17 meetings against the Tar Heels.

Projected Starters:
0 Mfon Udofia (6-2, 193, Jr.) - 10.8 ppg, 2.3 apg
14 Jason Morris (6-5, 210, So.) - 8.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg
41 Glen Rice (6-5, 206, Jr.) - 13.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg
24 Kammeon Holsey (6-8, 226, So.) - 8.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg
5 Daniel Miller (6-11, 258, So.) - 7.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.5 bpg

Top Reserves:
23 Brandon Reed (6-3, 180, So.) - 7.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg
1 Julian Royal (6-7, 230, Fr.) - 4.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg

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(Photos by US Presswire)

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