Georgia Tech defeats North Alabama with defense, ball movement

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Georgia Tech guards Deivon Smith and Dallan Coleman led the Yellow Jackets with 16 points and 14 points, respectively, as the Jackets defeated North Alabama 80-61 on Saturday at McCamish Pavilion.

Tech’s 80 points and 19-point margin of victory were the largest in those categories for the team since the season-opening game Nov. 7 against Clayton State.

The win came after the Jackets (4-2) suffered their first two defeats of the season Monday and Wednesday in the Fort Myers Tip-Off tournament.

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Four of the five Jackets starters scored 10 or more points, and Tech shot 59.6% from the floor. Jalon Moore scored 13 points, with eight rebounds, and Miles Kelly and reserve Lance Terry scored 12.

Yet, as well as the offense performed, Tech coach Josh Pastner emphasized the play of Ja’von Franklin, who started for the second consecutive game after consecutive double-doubles earlier in the week, but Franklin scored only four points to go with four rebounds Saturday.

“Franklin didn’t have a shot taken in the first half, but was outstanding because he gave himself up by the way he played,” Pastner said. “He played the right way. He had three assists, no turnovers, two blocks, and a steal. He was our MVP in the first half and didn’t have a shot taken or a point scored.”

The Jackets never trailed in the game, as their zone defense locked down the Lions early and often, especially from the 3-point line, holding North Alabama (4-3) to a dismal 22.2% from on 3-point shots (4-of-18).

Overall, the first half played out almost as well as it could have for Tech, as the Jackets sustained runs of 11-0 (to start the game) and 10-0 on their way to a 43-24 halftime lead.

“(Guard Daniel) Ortiz came in as North Alabama’s leading scorer, shooting over 50% (on 3-point shots), didn’t score today,” Pastner said of his defense. “Damian Forrest, who’s a really nice player, we did a really nice job on him, following the game plan and executing. I’m proud of the guys.”

Tech committed 10 turnovers in the second half, after committing four in the first. However, North Alabama never cut the deficit to less than 16 points in the half – and trailed by as many 25 on a jump shot in the paint by Moore with 15:06 to play in the second half.

After losing twice in Fort Myers, the Jackets were looking to fix the mistakes that happened there and be more active in sharing the ball on offense. The offense did that, finishing with 16 assists. Smith led the team with four.

“We all spoke about that as a team, and tonight we played for one another,” Smith said of moving the ball around. “It definitely showed in the first possessions of the game as we started out 11-0. Then, as the game progressed, we still stayed down as a team and ran our offense.”

Tech returns to action Tuesday night versus Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.