At the hands of Clayton State, Georgia Tech got the scoring therapy it much needed.

In a game scheduled to replace another game cancelled due to the team’s COVID-19 pause, the Yellow Jackets’ long-ball game got untracked in their 103-53 win over the Division II Lakers Sunday at McCamish Pavilion.

Against a less gifted opponent that was playing its second game in 26 hours, Tech made 15 of 24 3-point tries (62.5%) after having shot 30% or less in four of its past five games. Tech had not shot that accurately from 3-point range since a January 2017 game against N.C. State in coach Josh Pastner’s first season. Guard Michael Devoe, who had made 25% of his 3-point tries over the previous seven games (11-for-44), found his stroke, making four of seven tries from behind the arc.

“He needed to see the ball go through the hoop,” Pastner said. “Mike’s been struggling a little bit in terms of not shooting the ball well during ACC play from 3-point range, and we all know how good of a shooter he is.”

It was a welcome development for Pastner, whose team had lost nine of its past 11 games before Sunday. Devoe finished with 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting and showed admirable restraint in not going for more, passing up a number of shots to set up his teammates. He finished with seven assists in 27 minutes of play along with six rebounds against three turnovers.

Pastner even designed Tech’s first possession of the game to have Devoe come off a screen to get a clear shot from 3-point range, which he hit from the right wing. Pastner acknowledged that Devoe’s slump had been weighing on him.

“You can tell him as much as you want (that) you’ve got to move to the next play,” Pastner said. “But, again, he’s still a human being, and it’s in the mind, so I think today for him, just to see the ball go through the hoop, especially from 3, that was important for me. And that’s why we tried to design a couple things to help him get going. Because we’re going to need him in this next stretch run, for sure.”

Tech’s next two games are at home Wednesday against Florida State and Saturday at home against Miami. The two teams share first place in the ACC at 6-2.

Combined ShapeCaption
012322 Atlanta: The Georgia Tech bench reacts to a slam by Jalon Moore during the final minutes of a 103-53 victory over Clayton State in a NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

012322 Atlanta: The Georgia Tech bench reacts to a slam by Jalon Moore during the final minutes of a 103-53 victory over Clayton State in a NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
012322 Atlanta: The Georgia Tech bench reacts to a slam by Jalon Moore during the final minutes of a 103-53 victory over Clayton State in a NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

“It was definitely a good game for all of us, getting our confidence back together as a team,” said freshman guard Deebo Coleman, who was 4-for-5 from 3-point range after his own prolonged shooting slump. “I feel like this game is a turnaround for us, because we needed a win. The ball found everybody. We played the right way.”

Freshman guard Miles Kelly was another who recovered his stroke, making two of three tries from beyond the arc for six points. Kelly was 5-for-30 from 3-point range prior to Sunday, a total that Pastner had repeatedly asserted was not representative of his shooting ability.

“These past few weeks and months, I’ve been putting in countless hours in the gym just trying to perfect my shot and just see a shot go down in a game,” Kelly said. “Hitting these two 3′s today was a big for me and my confidence.”

Clayton State 53, Georgia Tech 103

Before an announced crowd of 4,127, Pastner put in all 13 players available for the game (guard Tristan Maxwell was out with a thumb injury, guard Bubba Parham is out for the season and walk-ons Jehloni James and Jermontae Hill are redshirting), including walk-ons Coleman Boyd and Brayden Daniels. Eleven players scored, including 13 points from freshman guard Jalon Moore, who had played in four games for a total of 14 minutes prior to Sunday. With the game well in hand, Moore was a blur, scoring all of his points in the game’s final 10 minutes as the Jackets poured it on.

While the Jackets reached 100 points in a regulation game for the first time in Pastner’s six-year tenure, he was more enthused by his team’s play on defense. (Clayton State made 18 of 54 shots and was relieved of the ball 13 times by steal.) Particularly in last Wednesday’s 80-64 home loss to Wake Forest, Pastner felt that his team was demoralized by its poor shooting, which affected how much effort players gave in getting back on defense after misses and turnovers.

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Credit: File Photo

Credit: File Photo

Leading up to Sunday, Pastner implored his team to play with the effort and enthusiasm that have been hallmarks of his teams at Tech. He shared a recent Sports Illustrated article about former NBA player Shawn Bradley, who became paralyzed last year in a bicycling accident, and reminded players about the preciousness of life and health.

“And so guys, when you’re thinking you’re upset about a missed shot – everything you’ve got to do in life has got to be about enthusiasm,” he said. “And if you play that way defensively – and now coming back into (talking about) basketball – you play that way, then it ends up moving in the right direction for us and in the way that we play, and that’s what happened (Sunday).”

Clayton State coach Vince Alexander, a friend of Pastner’s, saw the same energy that Pastner sought.

“I thought they had great energy,” Alexander told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They played together, they were very talkative on defense, they were communicating. I think it really helped them (Sunday) because they were able to work on some things that they really needed to work on. If I can help him in that way, it doesn’t hurt me I’m glad I could be a part of helping them.”

Clayton State (6-10) added the game as Pastner was looking for a game to replace the team’s Dec. 23 game with Alabama A&M, which was initially postponed because the Jackets were on their COVID-19 pause. That game couldn’t be rescheduled, leading to the first-ever regular-season meeting between the two metro Atlanta teams.

“It was a great experience for our kids to play in that atmosphere and play against that kind of talent,” Alexander said. “It gives my kids a true evaluation of where we are and how hard we need to work.”

Combined ShapeCaption
012322 Atlanta: Georgia Tech guard Michael Devoe autographs and tosses his shoes to young fans following a 103-53 victory over Clayton State in a NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

012322 Atlanta: Georgia Tech guard Michael Devoe autographs and tosses his shoes to young fans following a 103-53 victory over Clayton State in a NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
012322 Atlanta: Georgia Tech guard Michael Devoe autographs and tosses his shoes to young fans following a 103-53 victory over Clayton State in a NCAA college basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@