Coming out of a week of final exams, Georgia Tech aced a comparatively stress-free test Sunday afternoon at McCamish Pavilion. Playing with effort and energy in its first game in 11 days, the Yellow Jackets bored through Alcorn State 74-50.
Tech’s offense again had its issues – the Jackets shot 41.9 percent from the field against a team that came into the game allowing opponents to shoot 49.0 percent. However, the Jackets relied on effort and length to win loose balls and dominate on the glass in controlling the game from the outset.
“It was good to get a good win and kind of validated the VCU win,” coach Josh Pastner said. “I told our guys that – we need to follow up with this game with a win to make sure we validated that VCU game.”
Tech (6-3) will play rival Georgia Tuesday night at home. The Jackets outmanned Alcorn State (2-7) on the glass, taking 46 of the 77 available rebounds. They claimed 18 out of 39 misses on the offensive glass.
Tech was led in scoring by guards Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson, both with 14 points. Alcorn State guard A.J. Mosby, from Cartersville, led all scorers with 16 points.
Five observations from the game:
Jackets give the effort
Tech was likely going to win this game no matter how it played – Alcorn State was ranked 313th out of 351 Division I teams last season by kenpom.com, and had significant turnover on its roster. Still, the Jackets did what they had to, play with effort and work on defense.
Pastner said that his team was 15-3 in 50/50 balls in the first half and credited that advantage for creating its 39-22 halftime lead.
“The ball was bouncing, they were sending three, four guys there and we were standing there picking flowers in a lot of situations,” Alcorn State coach Montez Robinson said.
Keeping legs fresh
With the game in control, Pastner was able to limit minutes, not a small consideration given that Tech will play the Bulldogs Tuesday and then Wofford on Thursday before a six-day break for the holidays.
Center Ben Lammers came into the game averaging 35.4 minutes per game – second in the ACC – but was only needed for 20 minutes, his season low by 12 minutes. No Tech player was on the floor for longer than 28 minutes.
“It’s a lot less stressful,” Lammers said of being able to watch comfortably from the bench. “Hopefully we can do that more often.”
Impressive play from Lammers
Lammers picked up his sixth double-double of the season with 12 points (on 5-for-7 shooting) and 13 rebounds (six offensive) in just 20 minutes. With a considerable length advantage, he kept several possessions alive with hustle plays and by tapping rebounds to teammates.
Lammers’ passing out of the high and low post is a developing asset. The offense often runs through the 6-10 center in the high post, and his confidence in making passes from that spot seems to be growing. When he is doubled in the low post, he is becoming more aggressive in finding shooters on the perimeter. Lammers only had one assist Sunday– he found Okogie cutting backdoor for the opening basket – but that facet of his game is obvious.
“You’ve always got to be ready, because sometimes you don’t think Ben sees you, but he sees you,” forward Quinton Stephens said.
Tech didn’t need much help from Alcorn State, but received it anyway. The Braves turned the ball over 21 times total, 10 by halftime and six in the first nine possessions. The Braves came into the game averaging 13.6 turnovers per game.
“Couldn’t hold onto the ball,” Robinson said. “It was like the ball had some grease on it, or some oil. That’s uncharacteristic.”
Three of Robinson’s starters are from Georgia, and Robinson said they were a little antsy playing in their home state.
It was Tech’s most decisive win of the season, surpassing 15-point wins over Tennessee Tech and Southern in November, and was under control from the start. With the cushion, Pastner was able to get walk-on Rand Rowland into the game for the final 3:40. Rowland, who graduated Saturday with a degree in business administration and is an aspiring coach, got his first two career rebounds. Pastner called Rowland a “phenomenal, phenomenal young man” who has helped Pastner learn the team and also provided leadership.
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