Wake-Tech clash is all in the family

ATLANTA - Technically, Alade and Al-Farouq Aminu were the only brothers involved in a little history in Georgia Tech's 76-74 upset of then-No. 6 Wake Forest last Saturday at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

It was only the second time in Atlantic Coast Conference history two brothers squared off against each other on opposite teams - and the first time since Wake's Jerry Montgomery faced Maryland's Roger Montgomery in 1969.

In reality, as close as Tech's Gani Lawal is with the Aminu family, it pretty much made the game a practical family reunion, if not an actual one. Lawal played with Al-Farouq at Norcross and is now teammates with Alade at Tech.

"We're all brothers," Alade Aminu said. "Gani's my little brother. Farouq's my little brother. We're all tight.

"We'd all be at the house when we were in high school and we'd be up until 2 in the morning joking around. We're all Nigerian, so we could all laugh about how our Nigerian dads talked. We've all been brothers for like the last five or six years. It's like one big family out there."

Of course on Saturday, only one side could win.

And as close as the trio remains, the competitive side of all three came out during a very physical and heated first half.

"It was kind of weird going into the game," Lawal said. "But to be honest, once the ball tipped off, it was just about winning the basketball game.

"It was definitely a grind-it-out game. It was definitely a slugfest. It was a physical, grind-it-out, just nasty game. I don't have a problem with that."

That competitiveness seemed to bring out the best in all three players, especially when they matched up against each other at different times.

Lawal's 25-point, 10-rebound, two-blocked shot performance earned him ACC Co-Player of the Week honors. Alade (10 points, 13 rebounds, six blocks) and Al-Farouq (17 points, 11 rebounds, five steals) also more than held their own.

"We all grew up together, so we all wanted to go at each other and play real hard," Al-Farouq said.

Still, it was the older brother and high school chum who got the upper hand. Al-Farouq admitted after the game wins against Alade's team - be it in one-on-one games in the driveway or church league games - have been few and far between for him.

But while Alade wasn't about to let his little brother forget that fact, he still had words of encouragement for him.

And Al-Farouq has every reason to be encouraged. His performance Saturday helped the 6-foot-9 freshman to garner his fourth ACC Rookie of the Week honor, while his Demon Deacons remain ranked in the Associated Press' top 10 at No. 7.

"I think I'm undefeated against him on this floor," Alade said with a laugh. "We always used to play at Georgia Tech, and I don't think he's beaten me here.

"Y'all know him as Al-Farouq Aminu, but I know him as my little brother. But he's a great player, a talented player. I'm just happy ... for Georgia Tech to get the win. ... But he's been doing his thing. I'm happy to see him playing well and keep progressing. He'll be just fine."