Wake Forest (7-11, 0-3 ACC) at Georgia Tech (8-8, 1-2)
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m./Alexander Memorial Coliseum
Series history: Wake Forest leads 36-33
Last meeting: The teams split both games last year. Wake Forest won at home 75-64. In the earlier meeting in Atlanta, the Yellow Jackets won 79-58. It was the highest margin of victory in the series.
Key Demon Deacons: G J.T. Terrell (13.3 ppg, double-digit scoring in 7 of last 9 games); F Travis McKie (13.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg); F Ari Stewart (10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 87% FT)
Key Yellow Jackets: G Iman Shumpert (16.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, scored career-high 30 in last game); G Glen Rice, Jr. (12.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, scored career-high 24 in last game); G/F Brian Oliver (10.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg); F Daniel Miller (5.3 rpg)
Tech’s last time out: In its last time on the floor, Georgia Tech rolled handily Sunday over a poor-shooting North Carolina team to a 20-point rout. The Tar Heels were just 27.6 percent from the field, marking their worst shooting output in a game since 1955. Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets got some of their best offensive production of the season from Shumpert and Rice and who hit career-highs in scoring. Although the Yellow Jackets tied the Tar Heels in rebounds, head coach Paul Hewitt was encouraged by the way his three freshmen forwards crashed the backboards on both ends, leading to and keeping alive key offensive possessions.
Point of emphasis: Establish perimeter D early. While North Carolina had trouble scoring all throughout Sunday’s game, that may not be a problem for Wake Forest. Although the Demon Deacons are near the bottom of the ACC in scoring, they enter the contest with a conference-leading five players averaging double figures in scoring. They can score from anywhere on the floor, with guards J.T. Terrell, Gary Clark and C.J. Harris among the more prolific scorers around the 3-point arc. By establishing perimeter defense early and forcing the Demon Deacons to get it inside to forward Travis McKie, the Yellow Jackets could turn good shooting Wake Forest ice cold. To defend a team that has multiple scoring threats, take as many out of the equation as possible, and force at least one player to have to carry it.
1. Maintain the post. The Yellow Jackets have had strong play from their interior players of late, with freshmen Daniel Miller, Nate Hicks and Kammeon Holsey becoming more confident in their duties. The trio has been communicating better on the floor both offensively and defensively. Defense must remain their top priority, as they look to quiet another lineup that features 7-foot size. Offensively, they must continue to move the ball in order to get it to an open guard.
2. Knock ‘em down. It sounds simple enough, but the Yellow Jackets have to continue shooting well if they hope for the wins to continue to stack up. At points Sunday, it appeared Shumpert and Rice were in an unstoppable groove. Of the team’s final 17 baskets, the pair combined to make 13 of them. It will be incumbent upon both to continue their hot-shooting ways, with combo guard Oliver joining them as soon as he can. A normally strong jump shooter, Oliver has found burying shots to be a tougher than usual task this season.
3. Play within themselves. Another seemingly simple adage, the Yellow Jackets indeed do need to play their game Wednesday and ignore what the other team will be doing. The Demon Deacons have been struggling all season and have dwelt in the bottom of most ACC statistical rankings throughout the year. They are still winless in the conference. Georgia Tech needs to ignore what has been happening to Wake Forest — thrown into turmoil following the firing of head coach Dino Gaudio last offseason — and stay focused on maintaining the hunger discovered in its previous game.