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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 2 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Comcast Center (17,950) -- College Park, Maryland. Television: ACC Network, ESPN3.com. Home Record: GT 7-1, Maryland 5-2. Away Record: GT 2-1, Maryland 1-1. Neutral Record: GT 0-2, Maryland 3-2. Conference Record: GT 0-0, Maryland 1-0. Series Record: Maryland leads, 39-36.
GAME NOTES: The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets open up Atlantic Coast Conference play on Saturday afternoon when they travel to the Comcast Center to take on the Maryland Terrapins.
Georgia Tech performed well in non-conference action, going 9-4 through the first two months of the season. The Yellow Jackets are currently in the midst of a season-long four-game road swing, and after losing at Vanderbilt on Dec. 21 (76-63), they bounced back on Sunday with a thrilling 58-55 triumph at Charlotte for their fourth win in the past five games.
Maryland has had similar success this season, opening up 9-5, which includes a Dec. 12 victory at Boston College (88-80) in its ACC opener. The Terps, who will close out a five-game homestand with this matchup, most recently downed North Carolina Central on Tuesday afternoon, 70-56, to improve to 5-2 at the Comcast Center.
In the tightly-contested all-time series, Maryland holds a 39-36 advantage over Georgia Tech, although the Yellow Jackets won the 2012-13 matchup in Atlanta, 78-68.
It wasn't exactly an impressive offensive showing for Georgia Tech its last time out, as it shot 45.1 percent from the field (including 4-of-17 from 3- point range) and committed 16 turnovers while tying a season-low in points with 58, but it held Charlotte to a mere 33.3 percent shooting and were lifted to victory on a last-second Trae Golden 3-pointer. The dramatic bucket capped off an outstanding performance for Golden, who scored 24 points on 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. Marcus Georges-Hunt chipped in 10 points, while Daniel Miller tallied nine points and nine rebounds.
On the season, the Yellow Jackets net 72.0 ppg, good for a +7.0 scoring margin, even though their showing from 3-point range has been poor (.290). Much of their success is predicted on strong rebounding, as they own a +7.3 margin on the glass. Golden leads the way with 13.2 ppg while being active and effective from the free-throw line (64-of-80). Georges-Hunt brings 11.8 ppg to the table, and Miller (10.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.0 bpg) and Robert Carter, Jr. (10.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg) are a formidable frontcourt duo.
Maryland used a big run late in the second half to extend its lead over NC Central to as many as 23 down the stretch as it cruised to victory. It outshot its opponent from the field, 44.9 percent to 32.7 percent, and were led by the efforts of Nick Faust, who tallied 19 points and nine rebounds off the bench while shooting 5-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range. Dez Wells was also solid with 10 points in the victory.
The Terps have displayed strong balance on both ends of the floor this season, shooting 45.0 percent from the field for a +7.0 scoring margin while also grabbing 7.4 more rebounds per contest than their opponents. Wells acts as the catalyst, posting 15.3 ppg and 5.4 rpg while shooting 48.7 percent from the field and 75.8 percent from the free-throw line. Jake Layman (14.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Evan Smotrycz (12.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg) are both active from 3-point range, connecting on a combined 60 long-range buckets at better than a 38 percent clip each. Faust rounds out the balanced attack with 10.0 ppg.
These similarly-constructed teams should be in for a 40-minute battle, and while it appears to be a coin-flip, figure for Maryland's home crowd to give it the boost it needs down the stretch to lift it to victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Maryland 71, Georgia Tech 69
01/04 10:43:41 ET
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