2008-09 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Georgia Tech

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Virginia Tech (15-7, 5-3 ACC) vs. Georgia Tech (10-12, 1-8 ACC)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 7:00 p.m.

TV: ESPNU


Special Preview Items:

Virginia Tech takes on a struggling Georgia Tech team on Wednesday night in
Blacksburg, and the Hokies need to win it. They can not afford a home loss to a
team ranked outside the Top 100 of the RPI. A win will also put Tech in a tie in
the loss column for second place in the ACC, as either Duke or UNC will lose
their third conference game of the year tonight.

Georgia Tech is 10-12 overall and 1-8 in the ACC. However, don’t let their
record fool you. They have talent. They have lost three ACC games in overtime.
This past week, they lost to Florida State by four and Maryland by one. They
have been in all of their games, but they haven’t been able to close.

The following table should give you a good idea of why they haven’t been able
to close.


Georgia Tech Starting Lineup

Pos.

Name

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

PPG

RPG

Assists

TO

G

Lewis Clinch

6-3

196

Sr.

12.1

3.5

42

35

G

Iman Shumpert

6-5

200

Fr.

11.5

4

117

88

F

Zach Peacock

6-8

240

Jr.

10.4

5.5

19

51

F

Gani Lawal

6-9

233

So.

15.5

10.5

15

60

F

Alade Aminu

6-10

225

Sr.

11.9

8.6

15

50

A column for turnovers has been added this week to illustrate Georgia Tech’s
tendency to give up the ball. That’s the main reason they are just 1-8 in the
ACC, and they’ll have to do a better job with turnovers if they hope to pick up
their first ever win in Cassell Coliseum. More on turnovers later.


Kent Square Condominiums — Blacksburg’s Premier Address!

The Yellow Jackets have a similar starting lineup to Wake Forest, which could
be the reason their only win of the year came over the Demon Deacons. GT has a
lot of length in the frontcourt, and they use that to play excellent defense and
crash the boards.

Gani Lawal is averaging a double double this season. In fact, his rebounding
numbers are actually up in ACC play. In conference games, he is averaging 11.2
rebounds, nearly two more than the #2 player on the list, Clemson’s Trevor
Booker.

Joining Lawal in the frontcourt is Zach Peacock and Alade
Aminu. Aminu is the
brother of Al-Farouq Aminu of Wake Forest, and he has talent and skill on the
inside. Peacock is a quality shooter for his size, and this trio of post players
create quite a presence on the inside. They have the #2 rebounding margin in the
ACC, at +4.6 per game. Virginia Tech has been struggling with rebounding lately,
so boxing out the bigger Yellow Jackets was likely a focus in practice this
week.

Lewis Clinch and Iman Shumpert both average over 30 minutes per game in the
backcourt. Clinch is a veteran senior who provides leadership while on the
court. He can score, but he’s a streaky shooter. Clinch is shooting just 26.7%
from three-point range this year. Despite his struggles from behind the arc, he
has attempted 105 three-pointers on the season.

Shumpert is a highly-touted McDonald’s All-America. He has started all 22
games of his Georgia Tech career. Shumpert hit the game-winning jump shot
against Wake Forest with just one second remaining on the clock. He is just the
latest in a long line of highly-touted recruits that Paul Hewitt has lured to
Georgia Tech.

That’s a big starting lineup for Georgia Tech, but that’s not necessarily
their primary lineup. Point guard Moe Miller comes off the bench to play 22.6
minutes per game in ACC play, giving the Yellow Jackets a three-guard lineup for
much of the game. Miller missed much of the beginning of the season with an
injury, but he has been healthy recently. He scored 29 points on Virginia Tech
in Blacksburg last year.

Miller is just 7-of-43 (16.3%) from three-point range this year. However,
he’s 7-of-22 (31.8%) in ACC play. That means he was 0-of-21 from the outside in
non-conference play, a very odd stat.

Georgia Tech’s top three-point gunner is wing Lance Storrs, a former Virginia
Tech recruit. Storrs is playing over 20 minutes per game and is shooting 41.3%
from three-point range on the season.

After Miller and Storrs, Georgia Tech doesn’t have much coming off the bench.
Brad Sheehan is a 7-0 center, but he averages just 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds
per game. Freshman guard Nick Foreman is a walk-on who has earned playing time
because he plays good defense.



Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech, ACC Games Only


Category

GT


VT

Stat

Rank


Stat


Rank

FG%

40.2%

9

46.1%

1

FG% Def.

39.1%

1

44.4%

10

3-Pt.%

31.6%

9

34.1%

7

3-Pt.% Def.

32.1%

6

35.8%

8

FT%

65.2%

12

67.5%

10

Reb. Margin

+4.6

2

-1.9

10

TO Margin

-5.44

12

+2

5

Assist-TO Ratio

0.7

12

0.9

6

Scoring Off.

66.3 ppg

12

75.8 ppg

3

Scoring Def.

72 ppg

4

76.1 ppg

9

Average

7.9

6.9

Georgia Tech is an outstanding team defensively. They don’t give up a lot of
points, and their field goal percentage defense is tops in the ACC, even ahead
of Duke. They are an excellent rebounding team. Gani Lawal is tops in the ACC in
offensive and defensive rebounding, with Alade Aminu coming in at #2 in
defensive rebounding.

Their defense will be put to the test by Virginia Tech, who is one of the top
offensive teams in the ACC. However, the Jackets do have a big advantage against
the Hokies on the boards and they should look to capitalize.

Georgia Tech could play a very good game for the most part, but still lose.
That’s what they’ve been doing this season, thanks to turnovers.


Georgia Tech Turnovers

Opp.

Turnovers

Virginia

12

at Maryland

28

Duke

18

at NC State

22

Boston College

20

at Clemson

18

Wake Forest

15

at FSU

18

Maryland

24

Average

19.4


The Yellow Jackets are a turnover machine in ACC play, averaging nearly 20 per
game. In four road contests, they are averaging 21.5 turnovers per game. They
have turned the ball over fewer than 18 times just twice in nine conference
games. The Jackets are creating extra possessions because of their impressive
rebounding, but they are giving it right back, and then some, with their
turnover struggles.

Iman Shumpert handles the ball quite a bit, and he has been a turnover
machine this year. Shumpert alone is averaging four turnovers per game. All
three of Georgia Tech’s post players have 50 or more turnovers on the season, so
expect the Hokies to double team each and every time the Jackets get the ball
down low. It will be the direct opposite of the NC State game, where the Hokies
didn’t double down on Ben McCauley because he’s such a good passer.

As mentioned above, Georgia Tech is a very similar team to Wake Forest, in
size and athleticism. They are good on the glass, they have a tall, rangy lineup
with a lot of wingspan. Like the Deacons, GT’s offensive weakness is outside
shooting. In ACC play, they are shooting just 31.6% from the outside — for the
entire year, just 29.9%. The Hokies can afford to double down, but it’s unlikely
that the Yellow Jackets can make them pay from the outside.

In short, the team Virginia Tech is facing tonight is Wake Forest with more
turnovers and without Jeff Teague. They are very dangerous, and if they can
limit their turnovers, they have the post presence to do enough damage on the
inside to beat the Hokies.

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