North Carolina (12-5, 1-1) vs. Georgia Tech (12-4, 1-2)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
2 p.m., ESPN (Mike Patrick, Len Elmore)
"They're a lot like us. They're young on the perimeter and really good on the inside. They like to get out in transition and we like to do the same. It's a big game. It's a very important game for both teams. It's going to be a pretty scrappy game. I don't think it's going to be pretty. There's going to be a lot of bodies flying around." – Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt
"It's the ACC. Somebody was talking to me today that was saying that Virginia is the only unbeaten team in conference play after two or three league games and they were picked to finish last by the writers. You just never know." – Hewitt on the difficulty of the ACC
Season to Date: Georgia Tech enters Saturday’s contest with a 12-4 (1-2 ACC) record. The Yellow Jackets have lost to Dayton (63-59), Florida State (66-59), Georgia (73-66) and Virginia (82-75). The lone impressive victory on the schedule occurred on last Saturday against Duke (71-67).
Post Production: The Yellow Jackets’ strength this season hails from their frontcourt, thanks to 6-foot-9 junior Gani Lawal decision to forgo the NBA Draft and 6-foot-10 freshman phenom Derrick Favors decision to attend school in his hometown. Both starters rank in the ACC’s top-five in rebounding and field goal percentage. Lawal is averaging 15.4 points on 56.4 percent shooting and 9.1 rebounds per game, while Favors is contributing 11.8 points on 58.1 percent shooting and 8.9 rebounds per contest.
Add in 6-foot-8 senior Zachery Peacock (10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and you will find that Hewett’s three-man post rotation is accounting for 48.9 percent of his program’s scoring and 53.9 percent of its rebounds.
Youth Emergence: While Favors has picked up the bulk of media attention since signing with Georgia Tech as the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit coming out of high school, he’s not the only freshman that’s making his presence felt in Atlanta. Guard Mfon Udofia has scored in double figures in nine games and ranks third among ACC freshmen in scoring at 10.9 points per game. Wing Brian Oliver is knocking down 40.6 percent (26-of-64) of his 3-point attempts on the season, while 6-foot-5 guard Glen Rice, Jr. is averaging 3.1 points in 12.3 minutes per outing. Tech’s other two freshmen -- Kammeon Holsey (ACL) and Daniel Miller (red-shirt) – are sitting out the 2009-10 season.
Sting-y Defense: Georgia Tech ranks third in the ACC in field goal percentage defense (36.9) and 3-point percentage defense (28.8). Only five opponents, including all four teams that have beaten the Yellow Jackets, have shot 40 percent or higher from the floor this season.
Back in the Saddle: Senior wing forward D’Andre Bell has started all 16 games for the Yellow Jackets after missing entire 2008-09 campaign due to surgery that repaired a congenital spinal condition. The 6-5 wing player is averaging 5.7 points in 22.4 minutes of action in starting every game this season.
Random Stat of the Day: In it’s last four games, Georgia Tech has knocked down 86.2 percent of its second-half free throws, including a 17-of-18 effort in the upset win over Duke.
Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated Georgia Tech, 104-74, at the Smith Center on Feb. 28, 2009. Tyler Hansbrough led UNC with 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Danny Green added 23 points and six rebounds.
Series History: North Carolina leads the all-time series with the Yellow Jackets, 60-20. The Tar Heels have won 19 of the last 26 meetings.
00 Mfon Udofia (6-2, 187, Fr.) – 10.9 ppg, 2.9 apg
1 Iman Shumpert (6-5, 209, So.) – 9.0 ppg, 4.0 apg
13 D'Andre Bell (6-6, 222, Sr.) – 5.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg
31 Gani Lawal (6-9, 234, Jr.) – 15.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg
14 Derrick Favors (6-10, 246, Fr.) – 11.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg
35 Zach Peacock (6-8, 235, Sr.) – 8.0 ppg, 2.5 apg
11 Brian Oliver (6-6, 220, Fr.) – 5.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Roster & Bios
Lawal ... Shumpert
Favors ... Udofia
Bell ... Peacock
(Photos by AP)