They made a total of three baskets and took five shots, but Georgia Tech likely would not have defeated Florida State on Wednesday night without the help of forward Khalid Moore and center Rodney Howard.
The two combined for 13 points in Tech’s 75-61 win at McCamish Pavilion, but their contributions went beyond scoring.
“This is just a hard-fought game all of our players,” forward Jordan Usher said. “I want to give big props to Khalid Moore. I want to give big props to Rodney Howard. Kyle Sturdivant coming in being gritty, making plays. This is just great for our team. It builds chemistry.”
Howard set high screens for guards Michael Devoe and Sturdivant that resulted in Florida State’s big men guarding them one-on-one, creating driving opportunities that scrambled the Seminoles defense. His seven rebounds were a career high in ACC play.
Howard made a key play early. Florida State jumped to a 7-0 lead before Moore got the Jackets on the board by attacking the basket and getting fouled. Moore made his first free throw but missed the second. Howard boxed out center Naheem McLeod under the basket and claimed the rebound with one hand, keeping alive a possession that ended with a 3-pointer by Usher, starting a 7-2 run that got the Jackets into the game.
Aggressive in driving, Moore drew five fouls, which got him to the free-throw line a career-high 10 times. Moore made seven, also a career high. His five steals were one shy of his career high. He often played the back of the 1-3-1 defense when Howard was out, no small task for a 6-foot-7 forward. At other times, he used his length to challenge shots and create deflections on the wing as the Seminoles turned the ball over 17 times, tying their season high.
“I thought Rodney Howard and Khalid Moore were sort of like the MVPs with just non-scoring plays,” coach Josh Pastner said. “They just made so many 50/50 balls just through hard-noised plays to help us win the game.”
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