Jalon Moore helps Georgia Tech handle Northeastern

Georgia Tech defeated the Northeastern Huskies 81-63 Friday night at McCamish Pavilion, remaining unbeaten at home this season.

Tech outrebounded the Huskies 47-36 and outshot them as the Jackets pressed through a slow start and adapted on the defensive end to build their lead. The Jackets improved to 5-3 and dropped Northeastern to 1-6.

Jalon Moore fell one rebound shy of a double-double as he finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. He was 10-for-10 from the free throw line, becoming the first Georgia Tech player to be perfect from the line (with a minimum of 10 attempts) since January of 2016 (Marcus Georges-Hunt did it) and garnered praise from coach Josh Pastner as the team finished 20-for-26 in free throws.

“I couldn’t take him out of the game because he was really good offensively and did a lot for us on the glass,” Pastner said. “I think he can be really good and he’s just scratching the surface.”

Georgia Tech started slowly, trailing 6-5 after the first five minutes before shifting from its man-to-man defense back to a zone. The change allowed the Jackets to lean into their transition offense to go on a 7-2 run over four minutes, punctuated by a Ja’von Franklin putback dunk after Deivon Smith missed a free throw that could have been a three-point play. Instead, it was a four-point swing from the dunk and Georgia Tech never gave back control of the game after taking a 23-11 lead with seven minutes left in the first half.

Miles Kelly and Moore led with 16 points each in the first meeting between the schools. This was Kelly’s sixth game this season scoring double-digit points.

A scary moment for the Jackets came at the end of the first half when Smith fell while jockeying for position seeking an offensive rebound. He and a Northeastern player both crashed to the ground and Smith walked off the court and into the arena tunnel while holding a towel to his face with 30 seconds left in the half. He did return for the second half and played. Pastner said that Smith received stitches in his mouth.

After halftime, Moore went 6-of-6 on his free throws to keep the lead from slipping away as Georgia Tech took its largest lead of the game, 69-46, midway through the second half.

“Moore is a late bloomer, we were one of his few scholarship offers, if any,” Pastner said. “He didn’t play a lot last year, but I think he has a chance to be really good and I think the more he plays the more he will get better. There will be highs and lows throughout the season, he’s only a sophomore, and hasn’t played basketball his whole life but he will get better as time goes.”

Moore’s improvement, along with Georgia Tech resolving issues that plagued it during its loss at Iowa during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, has the Jackets looking better as they approach a matchup with the Georgia Bulldogs at home Tuesday before beginning conference play with a game at North Carolina on Dec. 10.