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Hokies vs. Yellow Jackets

Friday, March 11, 2005; Page D09

4. Virginia Tech [15-12] vs. 5. Georgia Tech [17-10]

Regular season meeting: Va. Tech 70, (at) Ga. Tech 69, Jan. 22

Leading scorer: Will Bynum, Ga. Tech, 28 points.

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Leading rebounder: Ismail Muhammad, Ga. Tech, 9 rebounds.

Records in ACC tournament: Va. Tech, first appearance; Ga. Tech, 17-22.

Vs. each other in ACC tournament: First meeting.

Back courts: Hokies guards Jamon Gordon and Zabian Dowdell are virtually interchangable, as both can run the point or take on more of a scoring role. Gordon is coming off one of his best games, scoring 22 points and grabbing six rebounds in Virginia Tech's 86-76 win over Maryland on Saturday. Dowdell scored 10 points or more in all 16 ACC games and averaged 16.2 points in league play. Georgia Tech guard Jarrett Jack, from Fort Washington, can create matchup problems for a lot of teams because of his size and strength. The return of guard B.J. Elder from a hamstring injury has lessened the pressure on Jack and guard Will Bynum. When healthy, Elder is one of college basketball's best three-point shooters and also is hard to defend because of his size.

Front courts: Virginia Tech lacks a true center, but the Hokies have gotten solid play from sophomore forward Coleman Collins, who often is overmatched physically inside. But Collins held his own against Duke's Shelden Williams, with 14 points and career-high 18 rebounds in Virginia Tech's 67-65 upset of the Blue Devils on Feb. 17. Forward Carlos Dixon has scored 45 points in the Hokies' past two games and rebounds well despite his slight frame. Georgia Tech has a big height advantage with senior center Luke Schenscher, a 7-foot-1 native of Australia, who has averaged nearly 12 points and 8 rebounds in the past 10 games. Schenscher also has played better since Elder's return, as opponents aren't able to double-team him in the paint as often. Senior forward Ismail Muhammad has been bothered by tendinitis in his knee and has struggled shooting in recent weeks. Senior Anthony McHenry doesn't have a lot of shooting range but is active around the basket.

Coaching/Intangibles: Unless you believe Georgia Tech already has done enough to earn an NCAA at-large bid, this could be an elimination game of sorts. With only one true quality win on their résumé -- a 102-101 overtime win over Wake Forest in Atlanta on Jan. 27 -- the Yellow Jackets probably need to win at least one game here. The Hokies' position, because of their less-than-impressive RPI ranking of No. 108, seems to be in an even more precarious situation. Despite its 8-8 record in ACC play, Virginia Tech could need two victories here.

-- Mark Schlabach

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