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Tar Heels vs. Yellow Jackets

Saturday, March 12, 2005; Page D11

1. North Carolina [27-3] vs. 5. Georgia Tech [18-10]

Regular Season Meeting: North Carolina 91, Georgia Tech 69, Jan. 12.

Leading Scorer: Jarrett Jack, Ga. Tech, 24.

Leading Rebounder: Sean May, North Carolina, 13.

Records in ACC tournament: North Carolina, 76-35; Georgia Tech, 18-22.

Vs. each other in ACC tournament: North Carolina leads, 4-3.

Back courts: One of the biggest differences between Georgia Tech this season and last season can be seen in three-point shooting. The Yellow Jackets' three-point shooting percentage (32.9) is well off their 36.7 percent mark from last season. But the return of Tech's B.J. Elder, who missed the first nine ACC games because of a hamstring injury, has dramatically improved the Yellow Jackets. North Carolina point guard Raymond Felton only made 3 of 11 shots in the regular season meeting, which Elder missed. Felton is coming off a better game entering today's meeting. He scored 29 points yesterday against Clemson. "He's a great penetrator," Jarrett Jack said, "and probably the quickest guard in the country."

Front courts: Elder's return also has had an effect on Tech center Luke Schenscher. Tech Coach Paul Hewitt said Schenscher has improved his shooting percentage and the number of his free throw opportunities since Elder has returned. In the first meeting, Schenscher blocked five shots, while North Carolina center Sean May only made 3 of 11 shots. May made only 3 of 10 shots yesterday, but the junior is capable of dominating performances, such as his 26 points and 24 rebounds in Sunday's comeback victory over Duke. Even if May is less than impressive, the Yellow Jackets must also contend with Marvin Williams. The freshman seemed to always be in the middle of crucial plays yesterday. He also made all eight of his free throws and grabbed six rebounds.

Coaching/Intangibles: North Carolina almost certainly locked up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament with yesterday's victory. And the Tar Heels now might play better basketball, particularly defensively, the rest of the tournament after yesterday's scare. But Georgia Tech is a confident team, aware that the same group of players made a run to the national title game last season. Defense and rebounding are the keys. Hewitt's team dominated in both categories against Virginia Tech.

-- Eric Prisbell

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