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Wake Forest at G Tech preview
(5) Wake Forest (16-2) at (22) Georgia Tech (11-5)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 27th, 8:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alexander Memorial Coliseum (9,191) -- Atlanta, Georgia. Television: Raycom/Jefferson Pilot. Home Record: Wake Forest 9-0, Georgia Tech 9-1. Away Record: Wake Forest 5-2, Georgia Tech 1-3. Neutral Record: Wake Forest 2-0, Georgia Tech 1-1. Conference Record: Wake Forest 4-1, Georgia Tech 2-3. Series Record: Wake Forest leads, 30-26.
GAME NOTES: The fifth-ranked Wake Forest Demon Deacons will attempt to keep pace atop the ACC standings, as they finish up a three-game road swing with a trip to Atlanta this evening to battle the 22nd-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets from Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The Demon Deacons went out of conference last weekend and earned a hard-fought 74-70 win over previously 20th-ranked Cincinnati. The victory put some distance between Skip Prosser's team and an ugly 91-83 overtime loss to Florida State. With Duke dropping its first game of the season to Maryland on Wednesday, Wake has a chance to tie both the Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels for the top spot in the conference with a victory tonight. Paul Hewitt's Yellow Jackets are simply looking for some consistency, after dropping their third straight game over the weekend, this one a 70-69 nail-biter against Virginia Tech. The loss dropped Tech to 2-3 in league play thus far and was the team's first loss at home this year. The Demon Deacons have won four of the last five meetings, including the last two in Atlanta.
It wasn't Wake Forest's sensational backcourt that carried the team to victory in Cincinnati last weekend, but rather center Eric Williams, who had a career day. The 6-9 junior erupted for a career-high 29 points, while converting 13- of-18 shots from the floor. Of course there was help from the perimeter, coming in the form of All-American candidate Chris Paul, who poured in 21 points, while knocking down five three-pointers. The Demon Deacons are so hard to defend, because of their explosive play both inside and out. The team is averaging 84.8 ppg to rank among the nation's best and has three bona fide scoring threats in Justin Gray, Paul and Williams. Gray is one of the country's best shooters and is currently leading the team in scoring at 16.4 ppg, while converting 56-of-134 three-point attempts (.418). Paul is next in the scoring column (16.1 ppg), with the ability to shoot from long range as well (29-of-49, .592), not to mention rebound (4.8 rpg) and distribute with the best of ball-handlers (6.5 apg). Williams is a perfect complement down low, with his 15.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Guard Will Bynum tied a career-high with 28 points, but it wasn't enough to halt Tech's current skein, as the team dropped a one-point decision at home to the Hokies. Point guard Jarrett Jack and forward Isma'il Muhammad added 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Yellow Jackets, who played once again without savvy shooting guard B.J. Elder in the lineup (hamstring). Without Elder on the court, Georgia Tech has looked lost at times. The team is still generating a healthy 77.2 ppg, but that number has declined of late, as Tech has failed to eclipse the 70-point plateau during the current three-game slide. Elder was averaging 13.2 ppg this year, but will once again sit out this game. In his absence, Jack has assumed the role of top scorer, elevating his average to 15.5 ppg. Bynum (10.9 ppg) provides further perimeter support, while 7-1 center Luke Schenscher (10.3 ppg, team-high 7.7 rpg) holds things down in the low post.
The Yellow Jackets are still not at full strength and although this may be the end of the long three-game road trip for Wake, Georgia Tech would have to be at 100-percent to knock off the Demon Deacons, regardless of the venue.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wake Forest 78, Georgia Tech 71