Following a resounding 31-point win Friday in their season opener, the Jackets pushed out to a 31-18 halftime lead and expanded it to 19 points early in the second half, but began fraying defensively. Delaware State, which was No. 265 in RPI last season and whose leading returning scorer averaged 8.6 points per game in 2012-13, closed the margin to 50-42 when Tyshawn Bell hit a 3-pointer with 5:32 to play.
“I think we just have to continue to grow,” guard Trae Golden said. “I think a lot of times, wekind of get out of sorts.”
A nine-point run, highlighted by superior scoring plays by Golden and forward Marcus Georges-Hunt, finished off Delaware State (1-1). Tech’s lack of fire was evidenced in its four offensive rebounds and five second-chance points. The Hornets took 56 shots to the Jackets’ 45.
“We miss 21 shots and only get four rebounds on that,” Gregory said. “That’s not Georgia Tech basketball. We’ve got to do a lot better job on that.”
Tech can now turn its attention to Georgia, the Yellow Jackets’ opponent Friday night in Athens. The Nov. 15 date is the earliest that the teams have ever met. Tech will attempt its third consecutive win over the Bulldogs, a streak it has not accomplished since 1992-94.
Golden, who transferred from Tennessee over the summer and was granted immediately eligibility for his senior season by the NCAA due to his hardship situation, was as dependable a player as the Jackets had Monday. He scored a game-high 16 points on 10 shots and moved the ball well, picking up three assists.
He was at his most effective in the first half. He drove to the basket and was fouled for a three-point play with 7:23 to go, giving Tech a 22-7 lead. Two possessions later, he slashed to the basket after Tech’s ball movement broke down Delaware State’s zone for a one-handed runner. He then rebounded a Hornets miss and passed ahead to Georges-Hunt, who was fouled going to the basket in transition.
“We had a senior that needed to step up for us and he stepped up for us, which was good to see,” Gregory said. “But we need to tighten up a lot of stuff and it’s November whatever, and we just need to keep plugging away at that.”
Point guard Solomon Poole tallied a career-high eight assists against with just one turnover in one of his most effective performances of his career.