Five observations from Georgia Tech’s win over Bethune-Cookman



Georgia Tech was an ungainly version of itself Sunday. Still, it defeated Bethune-Cookman, 65-62, at McCamish Pavilion on a day in which not much worked offensively except center Ben Lammers and the team’s free-throw shooting. Against a team that was ranked 347th out of 351 Division I teams in RPI last season, Tech only secured victory when a last-second 3-point try by the Wildcats was errant.

With guards Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson suspended for NCAA violations, the Yellow Jackets had to depend again on players without much experience, and they responded intermittently. Tech (1-1) was playing its second game after opening the season with a loss to UCLA in China.

“The good news is we found a way to win,” coach Josh Pastner said.

Five observations from the win.

1. Lammers again did the legwork for the Jackets, scoring a team-high 19 points (on 8 of 12 shooting) with 13 rebounds (nine offensive), eight blocks and four steals. Lammers scored from throughout 2-point range, spinning to the rim, taking a high-post pass from forward Moses Wright for a reverse and dropping jump shots from just inside the 3-point arc.

Particularly with Okogie and Jackson out, Lammers has looked more aggressively for his shot, which Pastner has encouraged. Against UCLA, Lammers scored a game-high 24 points.

“It was one of those things, I knew I had to step it up in a couple of these early games just because we’re missing a few key players,” he said. “I’m trying to be more aggressive on both ends to try to make up for some lost points.”

Lammers did it despite playing with cold symptoms.

“It wasn’t too fun playing,” he said.

2. After a reasonable 11 turnovers against UCLA, Tech showed its youth with 19 turnovers in 70 possessions, one shy of its team high last season. Freshman point guard Jose Alvarado, after no turnovers against UCLA, had three turnovers to go with 14 points and five assists. Point guard Justin Moore had four turnovers.

The ball was often mishandled and risky passes were thrown. Pastner has stressed making easy passes and concentrating on receiving the ball with two hands. Bethune-Cookman scored 25 points off Tech’s turnovers.

Tech was also 1-for-8 from 3-point range and is now 5-for-26 beyond the arc in two games.

“Curt (Haywood), Jose, Brandon (Alston) – we’re a better shooting team than that,” Pastner said. “Now, when we get Tadric and Josh back whenever that may be, that will help. In the short term, we’ve got to be a better shooting team than we were.”

Okogie, by the way, was in a sling holding his left arm with his hand heavily wrapped. Pastner said his understanding was that there was an infection of the wound opened by the dislocation of his index finger, and it had to be cleaned out and kept airtight.

3. As was the case against UCLA, on-ball defense wasn't great. On several instances, Bethune-Cookman guards penetrated with relative ease from the top of the Jackets' zone to get to the basket. Not surprisingly, the Wildcats weren't as efficient scoring in those situations as the Bruins were, but it was nonetheless an indication of how Tech's defense needs tightening early on.

Similarly, the Jackets let Bethune-Cookman pound the offensive glass. The Wildcats had 14 offensive rebounds against Tech’s 24 defensive rebounds, not a great rate for the Jackets. Offensive rebounding is often representative of effort, and the Wildcats extended more than their share of possessions that way. They scored 12 second-chance points to Tech’s five.

4. Bethune-Cookman stayed in the game by catching fire from 3-point range. The Wildcats made 10 of 25 3-point tries, including a number of clutch makes down the stretch to stay close. Guard Brandon Tabb was 8-for-17 from 3-point range for 24 points.

“It’s always a possibility with teams that have some really good shooters like this team, where if a guy gets hot, or a couple guys get hot, they start drilling it from 3,” Lammers said. “It’s hard to extend a lead on a team (like that).”

5. Tech didn't so much dodge a bullet as it did a cannonball with Bethune-Cookman's horrific performance at the free-throw line. The Wildcats, who last year shot 66.2 percent and came into Sunday's game shooting 72 percent, were 10-for-25 from the line (40 percent). Bethune-Cookman coach Ryan Ridder couldn't attempt an explanation. Coupled with Tech's going 24-for-31 from the line (77.4 percent), Pastner called it the difference in the game.

How much of an outlier was Bethune-Cookman’s free-throw shooting?

Out of the 11,509 games played in Division I last year, there were only three instances where a team shot as many free throws as the Wildcats did Sunday and made 40 percent or fewer, according to