- Associated Press - Thursday, January 27, 2011

ATLANTA (AP) - At home, it’s almost hard to believe that Georgia Tech is no better than .500 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Yellow Jackets are playing like championship contenders at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

Georgia Tech, a modest 10-9 overall and 3-3 in the ACC, is a perfect 3-0 in home conference games, and the home wins were all blowouts. Coach Paul Hewitt’s team has crushed North Carolina, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech by a combined 70 points.

This is the same team that has ACC road losses at Boston College, Clemson and Virginia by a combined 44 points.

Hewitt said his players have been motivated by home fans to pick up their defensive intensity. North Carolina, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech were held under 60 points.

“The energy that you get really helps,” Hewitt said. “Our student section these last three home games has been really good.”

Hewitt was being generous and careful in his praise of the fans. Only 5,794 were in the stands on a cold and wet Tuesday night for the 72-56 win over Virginia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets, led by Iman Shumpert on each end of the court, relied on their strong defense to beat Virginia Tech. The Hokies made only 6 of 25 shots (24 percent) as they were outscored 36-18 in the second half.

The dominating defensive effort came after the Yellow Jackets held North Carolina and Wake Forest under 30 percent shooting. Georgia Tech set school records for fewest points allowed and largest margin of victory in an ACC game in last week’s 74-39 win over Wake Forest.

Overall, Georgia Tech is 8-2 at home as it prepares to host Maryland on Sunday.

Shumpert, a 6-foot-5 guard, leads the team in most categories, including scoring and rebounds. He also leads the defense as he usually covers the opposing team’s top scorer.

Shumpert held Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney to 8 points, almost 11 below his average. Delaney made only 3 of 11 shots.

“I was just trying to make him take uncomfortable shots,” Shumpert said. “I think we played him tough and when I needed help I got it. We played him hard at the basket and we went up there and contested every shot.”

Virginia Tech had won nine of 10 and led 39-36 at halftime before Shumpert and the Yellow Jackets took over.

“He’s just a really good player,” Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said of Shumpert. “He’s got size and is a great defender. … They played hard and did a good job of contesting shots.”

It was a memorable night for Shumpert, a junior from Oak Park, Ill. He recorded only the fourth triple-double in school history, with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. It was Georgia Tech’s first triple-double in an ACC game.

Hewitt was at least as proud of Shumpert’s seven steals.

“When you get a guy getting seven steals and I don’t know how many deflections, that does a lot for your defense,” Hewitt said.

Shumpert’s perimeter defense showed in Virginia Tech’s poor outside shooting. The Hokies made only 1 of 11 3-pointers.

Another key for Georgia Tech was the re-emergence of Brian Oliver, who had made only 35.7 percent of his shots this season before snapping his shooting slump. Oliver made 11 of 18 shots, including four 3-pointers, for 28 points.

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