Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Wednesday, 7 p.m., ESPN-HD (Mike Patrick and Len Elmore)
"I've started watching tape on [UNC] and one thing that those guys do is that they try and beat you on every possession. That's the type of mentality we have to recapture around here. ... I'm not at their practices, but it seems like his players have been consistent in their effort, and that's something that we haven't done." -- Paul Hewitt
"They create matchup problems for us ... It's going to be a difficult matchup for David [Noel] because he'll have to guard a much bigger guy. Morrow, the youngster from Charlotte, is really having a big-time year and is one of the best shooters in the league." -- Roy Williams
Rebuilding: If there's one team in the country that can relate to UNC's personnel losses from last season, it's Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets lost all six players atop the rotation -- including their top five scorers -- from a team that recorded some big wins over the last two years. No one on this year's team started a game last season, so struggles were expected as the young players developed (the team's top five scorers are all freshmen and sophomores). But even Hewitt admits the team has underachived. "This is a talented basketball team that we have," he said. "We shouldn't be 3-8 [in the ACC]." Tech lost eight games in a row from Jan. 14 to Feb. 9, though perhaps they have begun to turn the corner with a couple close losses and then the weekend win over NC State.
Road Woes: Paul Hewitt's Yellow Jackets have yet to win a single game on the road this season. Of their 22 total games, seven have been on the road -- all losses. They've come close over the past month, losing by two points at BC, one point at Va. Tech and one-point at FSU, but have yet to capture that first road win. "Ironically enough, we've actually played our best basketball on the road," Hewitt said. "Our record doesn't indicate it, but I think we've played very consistent basketball and have lost some close games."
Off the Bench: It appears Hewitt has found the best way to break sophomore guard Zam Fredrick out of a slump -- take him out of the starting lineup. In his last two games, coming off the bench (after starting 18 games), Fredrick has had arguably his best two performances of the season. At Florida State last week, Fredrick posted 19 points (7-11 FG, 3-4 3pt) in 23 minutes. Over the weekend against NC State, he put up 22 points (9-12 FG, 3-4 3pt) and six assists in 23 minutes. "Maybe the reduced minutes has made him a little fresher and given him a little more energy because he definitely had some bursts where he was blowing by his man," Hewitt said. "I think it's a combination of him being a little fresher and taking quality shots."
Size: Georgia Tech's frontline hasn't performed up to par in every game, but they've got good size throughout their rotation. Starting up front is senior Theodis Tarver and sophomore Ra'Sean Dickey, both of which check in at about 6-9, 250. While Tarver isn't a big impact player (3.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 bpg), Dickey has all-ACC potential and is beginning to realize his upside (12.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg) as he becomes more consistent. "He's a gifted scorer and can rebound well," Hewitt said. "Defensively, off the ball, he is much better than he was last year and even at the beginning of this season." Power forward Jeremis Smith (12.0 ppg., 8.8 rpg) may not be in the starting lineup, but he's the team's leading rebounder and plays nearly 30 minutes a game. Smith missed most of his freshman season a year ago with an injury, but has proven to be effective in the ACC with his aggressive and athletic game. The Jackets also have good size on the perimeter, with defensive specialist Mario West on the wing and 6-5 two-guard Anthony Morrow, the team's top shooter (44% 3pt) and scorer (16.5 ppg).
Series History: The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with Georgia Tech, 56-19. Carolina has won 11 of its last 16 games against Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets have won three of the last four meetings and five of the last eight. The Tar Heels lead the series in games played in Chapel Hill, 22-4. Carolina is 17-3 against Georgia Tech in the Smith Center. UNC has won nine in a row against the Jackets at home (the last home loss for UNC to Georgia Tech was on Feb. 10, 1996). (Provided by UNC Athletic Communications)
Projected Starters: 33 Lewis Clinch (6-3, 190, Fr.) – 7.7 ppg, 1.8 apg 23 Anthony Morrow (6-5, 205, So.) – 16.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg 5 Mario West (6-4, 208, Jr.) – 5.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg 44 Theodis Tarver (6-9, 245, Sr.) – 3.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg 4 Ra'Sean Dickey (6-9, 255, So.) - 12.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg Key Reserves: 32 Jeremis Smith (6-6, 232, So.) – 12.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg 35 Zam Fredrick (6-0, 209, So.) - 10.2 ppg, 3.9 apg 1 D'Andre Bell (6-5, 200, Fr.) - 4.0 ppg 41 Alade Aminu (6-9, 210, Fr.) - 2.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg
Morrow ... Fredrick
Dickey ... Clinch
Smith ... West