UPDATED, 10:32 p.m. There was little in the way of either drama or mercy Monday night.
Georgia Tech treated Alabama State the way an ACC team ought to handle an opponent from the Southwestern Athletic Conference, dispensing a 75-41 thrashing of the Hornets at McCamish Pavilion.
The game grew loose at times, but the Yellow Jackets exploited their advantages in size, athleticism and cohesion for most of the 40 minutes.
“We wanted to play our game the whole game and take them out early,” forward Robert Carter said.
In their first game after completing final exams, the Jackets clubbed the Hornets with a 19-2 run midway through the first half that provided a 20-point lead. Tech was never threatened thereafter. The performance drew in comparison to Tech’s last game, in which the Jackets permitted an inferior UNC-Wilmington team to nearly steal a win out of McCamish before closing the game out.
The 34-point margin of victory is the largest in coach Brian Gregory’s tenure, surpassing a 33-point win over Florida A&M last season.
Tech improved to 7-2 and has won three in a row. The Jackets have two separate three-game winning streaks for the first time since the 2009-10 season, the last time Tech had a winning record and also qualified for the NCAA tournament. They’ll attempt to extend the streak to four games, which would also be a first since the ’09-’10 season, Saturday at home against the Citadel.
Alabama State, which entered the game ranked 314th in RPI according to realtimerpi.com, fell to 1-9. The Hornets are among the least effective teams in Division I at rebounding, taking care of the ball, scoring and, not surprisingly, winning.
Carter was the most effective player on the floor, active and focused. He fought for rebounds, challenged shots in the post and on the perimeter and ran the floor for transition baskets. The freshman finished with 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting and a game-high 11 rebounds, a career high. It was his first double-double as a Jacket.
“Carter’s just so athletic and crashes the boards, shoots it from the outside, nice post moves,” Alabama State coach Lewis Jackson said. “Just a tough cover for us both in the man and zone.”
Guard Brandon Reed led the Jackets with a game-high 14 points, including two 3-pointers, to go with four assists against one turnover. Guard Mfon Udofia scored 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting from 3-point range.
Gregory took satisfaction in the effort, particularly the team’s 51-30 rebounding edge, 20 assists on 29 baskets and Alabama State shooting 25 percent from the field. Tech had been outrebounded in its previous five games before Monday.
“We came out with a sense of urgency, which will always lead to good things,” Gregory said.
The game was noteworthy as the debut of early enrollee freshman Solomon Poole, who entered the game with 6:10 remaining in the game. As might be of expected of a player who had had two practices with his team before Monday, Poole appeared out of sync with his teammates and perhaps overeager, committing three turnovers in his six minutes. He scored his first two points as a Jacket at the line, banking home two free throws.
“He’s got a lot to learn,” Gregory said.
After the game, Gregory informed media that freshman guard Corey Heyward, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in June, tore the same ligament again in an unsupervised workout. He had surgery and will begin his rehabilitation again.
“He’ll start the rehab right away,” Gregory said. “Sometimes, these things happen and he’s a tough kid. He’ll come back full strength as soon as he possibly can.”
Updated: Guard Jason Morris did not dress for the game, as he is suffering from plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the arch. He is considered day-to-day.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog