Tech coasts against Kentucky State, ex-Jacket Moore

Moore, the sixth man on Tech's 2004 Final Four team, had pitched the matchup to Tech coach Paul Hewitt as a preseason game. That's ultimately what it looked like as the Yellow Jackets ran off with a 98-50 win.

The Thorobreds (4-13) would have been better off catching Tech in November. At the moment, the No. 22 Yellow Jackets (16-5) are playing solid basketball. They've won three of their past four ACC games, including a 21-point pounding of Wake Forest on Thursday.

They're also working up to a showdown Thursday at No. 8 Duke, which lost Saturday to Georgetown.

Tech shot 71.2 percent from the floor Saturday, which was the sixth time in school history a Yellow Jackets team had eclipsed 70 percent for a game and the first time in the Hewitt era.

Gani Lawal scored the 1,000th point of his career to highlight an 11-point day. The feat earned him a standing ovation from among the 8,025 fans at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and the rest of the afternoon off.

Senior D'Andre Bell picked up where he left off Thursday, when he scored a career-high 16 points against Wake Forest. He put up 14 points -- all in the first half -- on 6-of-7 shooting, including 2-for-2 from 3-point range.

Freshman Glen Rice Jr. led the Yellow Jackets with a career-high 15 points off the bench, without missing a shot. He was 6-of-6 from the floor, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range.

"They were trying to keep the ball out of the paint, so we got some open looks," Rice said. "We played pretty good defense, so we got a lot of fast breaks with easy layups."

Brad Sheehan had 10 rebounds and three blocks off the bench. Tech had a season-high 29 assists.

It was an all-around good game, one that Tech played in deference to Moore, whose Kentucky State team is struggling in Division II. Moore, 28, is in his first head coaching position at any level, and on an interim basis. Five players on his roster didn't play organized basketball a year ago.

He realizes his team has a long way to go. And in the one zinger he provided Tech on Saturday, he implies that Tech does, too.

When asked whether he thought this team had what it took to make a Final Four run, Moore said, "I've seen a few games this season, and I don't see a leader out there. To me, it looks like guys are trying to find themselves. You have to have a vocal leader and someone who is willing to get on guys and know that he’s going to catch it at some point down the line as well. ... If they start holding each other accountable as a team, they’ll definitely be on their way."

Told of Moore's comments, Hewitt said he thought he was right.

"It's not just [Moore] who was a great leader for our [2004] team, but that team collectively understood," Hewitt said. "You had Jarrett [Jack] who understood what it meant to play each possession like it's an important possession. This team doesn't understand that yet."

Hewitt hopes the Yellow Jackets grasp it better over the next four days. During halftime Saturday, he held up Duke as an example of a team that puts a premium on each possession.

"When you say leadership, it's not just some guy yelling in the locker room," Hewitt said. "It's about everybody understanding that we can't let each other down. We're going to do exactly what we've got to do from possession to possession, from pass to pass, from slide to slide."

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