Iman Shumpert’s clutch basket against Wake Forest gave Georgia Tech one of its biggest wins last season. If he can handle the ball better this time, perhaps the Yellow Jackets won’t need any big late-game shots.
The No. 22 Yellow Jackets, who have struggled with turnovers all season, face a Demon Deacons team that is seeking a measure of revenge in an ACC matchup Thursday night.
Shumpert, then a freshman, hit a pull-up jumper with one second remaining as Georgia Tech upset then-No. 6 Wake Forest 76-74 last Jan. 31. That was the teams’ last meeting at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and the Yellow Jackets’ fifth straight win in the series there.
The Deacons were coming off a victory over then-No. 1 Duke.
Wake Forest (14-4, 4-2) is on the cusp of being ranked again, receiving 27 fewer votes than No. 25 Alabama-Birmingham in this week’s poll. Georgia Tech (14-5, 3-3) and Shumpert, meanwhile, need to clean up their sloppy if they hope to remain ranked.
The Yellow Jackets had 20 turnovers - five by Shumpert - as they lost 68-66 to Florida State on Sunday, dropping them into sixth place in the ACC. The point guard, averaging 3.5 turnovers, missed an opportunity to tie the game in the closing seconds.
Shumpert had three turnovers in each of his previous two games, and Georgia Tech needed strong efforts down the stretch to win both.
Zachery Peacock made two free throws with 3.2 seconds remaining in a 66-64 win over then-No. 17 Clemson on Jan. 19. That came three days after he made the go-ahead shot with 25.7 seconds left in a 73-71 victory over then-No. 12 North Carolina.
Georgia Tech, which starts two freshman, is second in the ACC with 16.2 turnovers per game.
“Taking care of the ball - that’s the most important thing,” coach Paul Hewitt said. “Each possession becomes so magnified, especially when you go down the stretch in this league. You take care of the basketball, and you’ll get good shots.”
The Yellow Jackets have won four straight at home - the last two against ranked teams - despite averaging 18.3 turnovers over the last three contests.
In his last game at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, Derrick Favors had 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks versus Clemson. The forward leads ACC freshman with 11.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.
Favors will battle down low with Wake Forest sophomore Al-Farouq Aminu, who averages 16.9 points and an ACC-high 11.4 rebounds. Aminu was held to 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting against Virginia on Saturday, but had a season-high four assists as the Deacons won 69-57.
Wake Forest was coming off a 82-69 victory over then-No. 24 North Carolina on Jan. 20. The Deacons are 2-2 against ranked teams this season, playing all of those games on the road.
“We’re just trying to get better every day,” coach Dino Gaudio said.
Gaudio got strong play last week from senior guard Ishmael Smith, who averaged 20.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in two games. Smith, though, has averaged 5.3 points and shot 33.3 percent in three road games against Georgia Tech.
Wake Forest leads the series 35-32.
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