Previewing Georgia Tech

One week after its last outing - an upset loss at Maryland - North Carolina remains in the driver's seat for the ACC title as it returns to action Saturday against Georgia Tech. Tip-off at the Smith Center is set for noon and will be televised by CBS.

North Carolina (24-3, 10-3) vs. Georgia Tech (10-16, 1-12)
Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
Noon, CBS (Gus Johnson, Greg Anthony)

Quotables

"If there was ever a group that needed a week off, it's my guys right now. We've got some guys banged up… I'm sure everybody in the conference and everybody in college basketball is dealing with the same thing. This week off certainly comes at a good time for us." – Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt, referring to his bye leading into the North Carolina game.

"This team is more talented, and we should be better." – Hewitt said in comparing his current squad to his 2005-06 edition, which finished 11-17 and 4-12 in the ACC.

PREGAME NOTES

Season to Date: Georgia Tech enters Saturday's contest with a 10-16 (1-12 ACC) record. Despite being picked eighth in ACC Preseason Media Poll, head coach Paul Hewitt's squad has lost 11 of its last 12 outings, and are a loss away from securing the conference's No. 12 seed in next month's ACC Tournament. Signs of trouble were evident early in the season, as the Yellow Jackets needed overtime to defeat Mercer (82-76) and squeaked by Jacksonville at home, 79-76, before falling to UIC (66-60) in Atlanta on Dec. 14.

Hope for the Future: Sophomore Gani Lawal (15.2 ppg) is making a strong case for All-ACC honors this season, leading the conference in rebounding (10.0 rpg) and ranking fourth in field goal percentage (53.9). The 6-foot-9 forward has posted 14 double-doubles on the season, including six in ACC play. Fellow McDonald's All-American Iman Shumpert, a freshman hailing from Oak Park, Ill., ranks third on the team in scoring (11.4 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (3.9) from his off-guard position. His 5.2 assists and 2.0 steals per game rank third in the ACC in conference play.

Battered and Bruised: Moe Miller has encountered varying degrees of difficulty in his sophomore season, moving in and out of the starting lineup while suffering two concussions and missing seven games with a broken nose. The point guard (4.9 points and 3.7 assists per game in ACC play) was benched the previous two games in favor of walk-on Nick Foreman, but Miller played well enough against Clemson (11 points, 5 assists, one turnover) to earn back his starting spot.

Offensive Woes: The Yellow Jackets have struggled to find any level of success on the offensive end of the court this season, currently ranking 11th in the ACC in scoring average (70.8 ppg), ninth in field goal percentage (43.3) and 12th in 3-point field goal percentage (31.3). The scoring (67.3) and field goal percentage (40.8) statistics are even lower in conference play. A league-leading 18.6 turnovers per outing is partly to blame. To make matters worse, the Yellow Jackets even have problems with the freebies, shooting a league-worst 62.7 percent from the free throw line.

Saving Grace: Glass work has been a positive for the Yellow Jackets this season, ranking behind only North Carolina (plus-6.0) in rebounding margin in conference play with a plus-1.8 mark.

Odd Stat: Georgia Tech has lost six games in which it has held its opponent to below 40 percent shooting from the floor.

Last Meeting: Top-ranked North Carolina needed a late Danny Green free throw and blocked shot to escape Atlanta with an 83-82 victory over Georgia Tech on Jan. 16, 2008. Tyler Hansbrough led all players with 27 points and 11 rebounds.

Series History: The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with the Yellow Jackets, 59-20. North Carolina holds a 24-4 advantage in Chapel Hill, including a 19-3 mark in the Smith Center.

Projected Starters:
 3 Moe Miller (6-2, 185, So.) - 5.9 ppg, 4.3 apg
 1 Iman Shumpert (6-5, 200, Fr.) – 11.4 ppg, 5.2 apg
 0 Lewis Clinch (6-3, 196, Sr.) – 13.0 ppg, 3.1 apg
35 Zach Peacock (6-8, 240, Jr.) - 9.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg
31 Gani Lawal (6-9, 233, So.) – 15.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg

Top Reserves:
44 Alade Aminu (6-10, 225, Sr.) – 12.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg
10 Lance Storrs (6-5, 220, So.) – 4.3 ppg
34 Brad Sheehan (7-0, 233, So.) – 2.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg

GT Info
Schedule
Stats
Roster & Bios

Photo Gallery


Lawal ... Shumpert


Clinch ... Peacock


Aminu ... Miller

(Photos courtesy Getty)


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