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Yellow Jackets struggle for wins, fans without home court

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Yellow Jackets struggle for wins, fans without home court

    ATLANTA — Few fans are showing up to see Georgia Tech, which has fallen to last place in the ACC in its season without a true home court.
    Only 5,009 saw Georgia Tech's 64-49 loss to Miami Tuesday night at Philips Arena, one of two temporary home courts this season while the school's on-campus arena is being rebuilt.
    There was a solid turnout of more than 9,000 for a visit from Duke. Attendance has been below 6,000 for every other home game.
    The Yellow Jackets, who play at No. 7 North Carolina Sunday, have lost four straight and eight of nine with first-year coach Brian Gregory.
    Associate athletic director Wayne Hogan said Wednesday fans and the administration knew this would be a tough season — on the court and in the stands.
    Hogan said it hasn't been easy to juggle home games at the Gwinnett Arena, about 30 minutes north of the campus, and Philips Arena, the downtown Atlanta home of the NBA's Hawks.
    "It's been a challenge but nothing worse than we expected by any means," Hogan said. "I would almost have to say it has gone smoother than we expected from an operational standpoint. The attendance has been off a bit although it's not so far off what our projections were."
    According to the ACC, Georgia Tech's average of 4,455 for home games ranks 10th in the league, ahead of Boston College (4,446) and Miami (3,679).
    Hogan said the Yellow Jackets have had some scheduling challenges the school couldn't control. Tuesday night's game was the second 9 p.m. tipoff for TV — a difficult sell for families with children.
    "That's tough in the best of circumstances, getting our people to go downtown that late," he said, adding a rare Saturday home game against Duke could have drawn a bigger crowd if not for a noon tipoff.
    "That's a factor, especially when you're not winning many games," Hogan said.
    "I sense that everybody just kind of gets it and understands, from Brian and the staff and the team to the fans. I think the fans really appreciate what Brian is bringing to the table and understand the deck he was dealt. I don't think anybody felt he was going to challenge for an ACC championship."
    Georgia Tech (8-12 overall, 1-5 ACC) has played some of its best games on the road. It won at Georgia on Dec. 7 and ended a four-game losing streak with its only conference win at N.C. State on Jan. 11.
    Since then, the struggles have resumed, including an ugly 70-38 home loss to Virginia last week.
    Gregory has juggled his lineup in his search for a winning combination. He moved Glen Rice Jr. and Jason Morris into the starting lineup against Miami.

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