Georgia Tech won only once away from home last season. Purdue was even worse.
One of these teams will get one such victory on Monday when the 23rd-ranked Yellow Jackets (3-0) face the Boilermakers in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
Each team is playing on a court other than its own for the first time this season.
Both programs had losing records last season with Georgia Tech going 11-17 and Purdue 9-19. Poor play away from home was a major reason, with the Yellow Jackets going 1-12 while the Boilermakers were 0-14.
Georgia Tech hopes the impact of freshmen starters Thaddeus Young, Javaris Crittenton and Zach Peacock will help reverse the team’s road fortunes in the team’s first appearance in the Maui Invitational.
“(They) have started off good, but are facing an inevitable adjustment period,” Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said about the freshmen. “If there’s no adjustment period, they’re even better than I think.”
Purdue (2-0) has just one freshman starter in guard Gordon Watt. The Boilermakers believe they are improved since seniors Carl Landry and David Teague are back healthy after both suffered through injury-plagued 2005-06 seasons.
“Now to have an opportunity, you know, to go to Maui with more, you know, more bullets in our gun and to be able to compete, that’s what we’re excited about,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.
“And we don’t put a lot of stock in what’s happened with other teams. This is a totally different team and it’s going to be a huge test for us early in the season but we’re looking forward to that challenge.”
Landry played only five games last season and Teague missed the entire season due to knee injuries. This season, they are the two leading scorers for the Boilermakers.
Purdue made 12 3-pointers in an 82-57 victory over Western Carolina on Friday. The 6-foot-7 Landry, who was double-teamed throughout the game, and Teague combined for 27 points.
“Our main focus is still getting the ball inside to Carl, into Gordon Watt, and working off of those guys,” Teague said. “I think the perimeter shots just come from how defenses play us. They really sagged in and gave a lot of help on the weak side on Carl and that allowed him to get good looks and pitch it out to open guards for open shots.”
Young appears to be Georgia Tech’s best freshman, averaging 16.0 points while shooting over 60 percent from the field. Crittenton is averaging 15.7 points and has 24 assists in three games.
While the play of the two McDonald’s All-Americans is not a surprise, the early work by Peacock is a bit unexpected. He’s supplanted leading returning scorer Ra’Sean Dickey as the starting center and has made 10-of-15 shots for 27 points.
Georgia Tech leading scorer Lewis Clinch is averaging 16.7 points while shooting over 58 percent from the 3-point arc.
Hewitt has been able to spread his team’s minutes since the Yellow Jackets have won their first three games by an average of 31 points. Young’s 26.3 minutes per game lead the team.
The winner will play No. 13 Memphis or Oklahoma in the semifinals Tuesday.