5 things to know before Georgia Tech-Georgia (basketball version)

Georgia Tech guard Josh Heath played one of his best games of the season htis past Tuesday with 12 points and two rebounds against VCU. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Georgia Tech guard Josh Heath played one of his best games of the season this past Tuesday against VSU with 12 points and two rebounds. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Jorgenson likely ready to go

Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said Thursday that he expected guard Travis Jorgenson, who missed the win over VCU with an ankle injury suffered in a practice leading up to the game, to play against the Bulldogs. Gregory was ready to limit him in practice Thursday and Friday, but saw that as an endorsement of where Jorgenson is experience wise after starting 27 games last season as a redshirt freshman.

“It’s not like we’re going to put in anything world changing or anything like that where he’s not going to know what to do,” Gregory said. “He’s played against (Georgia) twice already, played in big games, so even if he’s a little limited, he’ll be ready to go on Saturday afternoon.”

Plenty of familiarity

Given that Georgia and Tech both have eight in-state players on the roster, there’s no shortage of ties between the two teams. Gregory said he recruited “probably five or six” of Georgia’s players and particularly mentioned freshman forward Derek Ogbeide, who has missed five games with a shoulder injury.

Tech forward Marcus Georges-Hunt and Georgia guard Kenny Gaines played together on the Georgia Stars AAU team.

“J.J. Frazier, Kenny Gaines, Charles Mann, we all grew up together,” forward Charles Mitchell said. “I played with Charles in YBO basketball when we were 12 and 13. I watched Kenny play high school basketball; we played against each other. I coached J.J. Frazier at a 10th-grade basketball camp. It’s a Georgia thing.”

The most unusual connection belongs to two players who grew up in Africa. Tech forward Abdoulaye Gueye is from Senegal (he is redshirting this season) and Georgia forward Osahen Iduwe is from Nigeria. But both attended high school at Central Park Christian in Birmingham, Ala. (Iduwe just for one year.) And, remarkably enough, they both stayed with the same host family. Small world.

Tech guard Adam Smith’s interpretation of the rivalry after transferring in from Virginia Tech:

“I don’t know how deep it runs, but just from being here during my time here so far, it’s pretty intense. We don’t like Georgia. But I think it’s going to be fun. I hope the atmosphere’s great. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to being a part of this rivalry.”

Battle on the glass

Tech will have to deal with forward Yante Maten, who is averaging 16.9 points and 8.6 rebounds and has scored 20 or more points in the Bulldogs’ past four games. Or, if you subscribe to Mitchell’s perspective, Maten has to deal with Tech.

“Not really worried about it, to be honest,” Mitchell said. “Just go out there and compete and play hard. We’ve got me and Nick (Jacobs), James (White) and Ben (Lammers). They’ve just got him. We’ve got four. That’s how I feel about it. We’ve got bodies we can throw at him through the whole game.”

Valuable result

From a resume standpoint, a win over Georgia, particularly coming on the road, would be pretty valuable. RPI will even out once conference play begins, but Georgia at No. 67 was the second-highest team that the Jackets have faced so far this season, as of Friday evening according to realtimerpi.com. (Villanova, which beat Tech at the NIT Season Tip-Off Classic, is the highest at No. 4) Tech was No. 63.

Should the Jackets get out of Stegeman Coliseum with their fifth win in a row in the series, they could finish the non-conference with three wins over SEC teams (Tennessee at home, Arkansas on a neutral court and Georgia on the road) and one of the strongest mid-major teams in recent season (VCU).

And, it perhaps goes without saying, it would be one more win. If the Jackets could beat Georgia and follow it up with wins over Southeastern Louisiana, Colgate and Duquesne to finish the non-conference at 11-2, that would be about as much as could be expected.

History for Georges-Hunt?

At the very least, if Tech wins Saturday, it would put Georges-Hunt in very select company as one of just a few Tech players to have not lost to Georgia in his four-year career. It’s a little bit murky and something of a red herring, as there were periods of freshman ineligibility which would have limited any career to three seasons. But, as best I can tell, no class had ever gone freshman year to senior year without losing to Georgia until Peek’s 2015 class did it last season. (It was a more difficult endeavor previously, as the teams faced each other as many as three times in a season at some points.)

Peek was the only member of last year’s senior class to letter all four seasons. That was the class, you may remember, in which former Tech forward Julian Royal was the only freshman signee in Gregory’s first season, but Royal transferred after two years.

Interesting to note: Besides Peek, the only person I could find to graduate unsullied by a loss to Georgia after four seasons, in a non-exhaustive search of the Tech media guide, was Frank Broyles. He is known more for his College Football Hall of Fame coaching career at Arkansas, but was first a star quarterback at Tech, then an assistant to Bobby Dodd.

Broyles lettered for Tech in basketball 1943-44-45 and 1947. Tech was 6-0 from 1943-45, 0-3 in 1946 and then 2-0 in 1947. It appears his absence in 1946 was related to military service.

In a strange coincidence, as Arkansas athletic director, Broyles hired and ultimately fired Stan Heath as successor to Nolan Richardson of “40 minutes of hell” fame. Heath’s son is Tech point guard Josh Heath.

Interesting (possibly), but entirely irrelevant: For all of his football glory, John Heisman was not much of a basketball coach. He coached Tech in the 1909, 1913 and 1914 seasons and was 9-14. He was 0-6 against Georgia, losing games by scores of 78-9, 69-13, 71-12 and 58-8.

 


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