Originally created 11/27/02

Hoopsters like playing week of big football game

ATLANTA -- Call this the preliminary in the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry.

On Wednesday, the No. 17 Bulldogs will take on the Yellow Jackets in basketball - just three days before the schools hold their annual clash on the football field.

While there's certainly a chance of being overshadowed in this gridiron-crazy state, Georgia star Jarvis Hayes actually believes the basketball game is enhanced.

"It's like a double dose of Tech," he said before practice Tuesday. "If we can beat them two times this week, it would be even better."

The basketball game is normally held in early December, but was moved up to accommodate scheduling commitments.

"It was a quirk in the schedule," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "I was hoping the game could be played a little later, but it's just the way it fell. They had obligations, we had some obligations, so we had to play the game now or not play it at all. I think canceling the game would have caused a little bit of a ruckus."

This is only the fifth time the teams have played basketball before meeting on the football field. The previous four occurred in the 1970s, when the basketball game was held the night before the football game.

The lone sweep was in 1977, when Georgia Tech won 75-58 in basketball and 16-7 in football.

Hewitt wasn't devoting a whole lot of attention to Chan Gailey and the football team.

"Obviously, we're pulling for Chan and his guys, but we've got our own things to work out," Hewitt said. "We didn't have a particularly good practice, so I can't worry about what's going on on the football field."

While the fans of both teams are sure to get all worked up, Georgia may be the more motivated team on the court.

The Bulldogs are loaded with home-state players, including four starters. Georgia Tech, which does most of its recruiting outside the state, has only one homegrown starter, B.J. Elder, and just two local players among its top 10.

"It's probably more important to our guys than their guys," Bulldogs coach Jim Harrick said. "All our guys are from Georgia. These guys grew up with it. They know the situation. I know one thing: I don't have enough tickets."

Hayes, a native of Atlanta, is certainly excited about playing the Yellow Jackets.

"Oh, man," he said. "Just say Georgia Tech. Enough said. This one gets you pumped up, more than any other game on the schedule."

Both teams are coming off easy victories in their home openers.

Georgia Tech (1-0) routed Arkansas-Pine Bluff 113-75, the highest-scoring game of Hewitt's three-year tenure. Georgia (1-1) defeated Belmont 87-71 after beginning the season with a loss to Texas in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden.

The Bulldogs benefited from the return of forward Chris Daniels, who couldn't play against Texas after participating in an unauthorized charity game over the summer.

Georgia will need his size against the Yellow Jackets, who have 6-foot-10 freshman Chris Bosh starting alongside 6-8 sophomore Ed Nelson. Bosh scored 26 points in his college debut, and also grabbed 14 rebounds.

For good measure, Georgia Tech has 7-1 sophomore Luke Schenscher coming off the bench.

The Bulldogs don't have anyone taller than Daniels.

"It certainly does concern me," Harrick said. "Everybody who has 6-10 and 6-11 guys worry me."

Another freshman, point guard Jarrett Jack, had 10 points and 12 assists in his first game for the Yellow Jackets.

Hewitt looks forward to having his young players face one of the nation's top teams.

"We've been wanting to put them in some pressure situations," the coach said. "We know this game is going to be a one-possession game, when it comes down the stretch, and we're going to find out a lot about our young guys."


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