HQ women's hoops prediction: Ga. Tech 71, UI 57
Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Illinois at Georgia Tech, 6 p.m. Wednesday
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Sarah Hartwell So. 5-10 10.9
G Ivory Crawford Jr. 5-10 13.5
G Alexis Smith Jr. 5-9 8.0
G/F Amber Moore Sr. 5-11 18.9
C Jacqui Grant Fr. 6-3 13.1
OFF THE BENCH
G/F Taylor Tuck Jr. 6-0 6.6
C Sarah Livingston Fr. 6-2 6.1
G Taylor Gleason Fr. 5-8 5.3
FYI: Grant’s seasonlong streak of double-figure scoring games ended at seven Saturday when she finished with eight points against North Carolina.
Georgia Tech (4-2)
P Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Sydney Wallace Jr. 5-8 10.7
G Kaela Davis Fr. 6-2 18.8
G/F Aaliyah Whiteside So. 6-0 7.5
F Roddreka Rogers So. 6-0 5.8
C Shayla Bivins Sr. 6-5 3.8
OFF THE BENCH
G Tyaunna Marshall Sr. 5-9 13.8
C Nariah Taylor So. 6-5 6.3
G Dawnn Maye Sr. 5-6 5.0
FYI: Marshall moved into sixth place on Georgia Tech’s all-time scoring list last weekend. She now has 1,587 career points.
Site: McCamish Pavilion (8,600), Atlanta.
Series: Georgia Tech leads 1-0. Last meeting: Georgia Tech 70, Illinois 60 on Nov. 25, 1995, at Atlanta.
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM; WDAN 1490-AM; Dave Loane (play-by-play) and Mike Koon (analyst).
Internet: Live streaming at www.espn3.com
FYI: The Illini are 3-3 all time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, including wins in the last two games.
Jeff Huth’s storylines
1. If the Illini want recommendations on a good place to eat in Atlanta, Sarah Hartwell is their go-to expert. The redshirt sophomore point guard started her career at Georgia Tech and during one season with the Yellow Jackets acquired a particular fondness for the menu at American Deli. This trip is an opportunity for Hartwell to see several former teammates, too, including ex-roommate Shayla Bivins and Sydney Wallace, the lone remaining member of Hartwell’s signing class still on Georgia Tech’s roster. “I think it will be a really fun experience to play against some old teammates, some old friends,” Hartwell said. One aspect of the trip that will be unfamiliar to Hartwell is the venue. In her lone season at Georgia Tech, the team played its home games off campus at the Gwinnett Center while the McCamish Pavilion was being remodeled. Hartwell is confident that during the game she can disregard old ties and simply concentrate on playing. “I’m going to approach the game like any other game,” Hartwell said. “It doesn’t matter that it’s Tech or whoever we’re playing. I’m just going in to compete and prepare the right way.”
2. Don’t be fooled by Georgia Tech’s current record. The losses were to No. 3 Tennessee and No. 19 Georgia, teams with a current combined record of 15-0. The Yellow Jackets, coached by former Illini assistant MaChelle Joseph, boast some of the top talent in the country. Senior Tyaunna Marshall is on watch lists for three national Player of the Year awards: Naismith Trophy, Wade Trophy and Wooden Award. Although just a freshman, Kaela Davis also is on the Naismith list. Davis, the daughter of 2001 NBA All-Star Antonio Davis, was ranked the No. 1 guard and No. 2 overall prospect in the Class
of 2013 by ESPN HoopGurlz. “Two really great players,” Illini coach Matt Bollant said. “Those two ... are two of the best kids we’ll see all
year.” Bollant likened Georgia Tech to No. 18 North Carolina, a team that defeated Illinois by 36 points Saturday at the Cancun Challenge in Mexico. “They pressure the ball,” he said. “They’re physically a little bit like North Carolina, just physically really talented ... and (similar in) how they rebound and how they guard you and try to create turnovers and then layups in transition.”
3. In each of the Illini’s three losses, the opponent scored between 84 and 98 points. Last weekend in Cancun, Illinois allowed 84 against Arizona State and 87 against North Carolina. In between, the Illini limited midmajor Arkansas State to 54 points. “We had one good defensive game and two bad,” Bollant said. Lax defensive rebounding cost Illinois against Arizona State, which turned 11 offensive rebounds into 15 second-chance points. Against North Carolina, Bollant said, the defensive breakdowns were more widespread. The emphasis in practice this week? “Blocking out and trying to play defense as a team,” Bollant said. The UI coach also is seeing missed opportunities on defense to draw charging fouls, “something we’re not very good at,” he added. “It’s something that’s kind of instinctual. Kids kind of see it and do it. But somehow we’ve got to find a way to help these kids get better at taking charges.”
Prediction: Georgia Tech 71, Illinois 57
A tough assignment for an Illini team coming off a couple of blowout losses in Cancun. Each team has yet to beat a high-major opponent, although the Yellow Jackets have come much closer. (N-G prediction record: 7-1)