Updated, 8:15 p.m. – Georgia Tech wanted The Citadel to come to McCamish Pavilion so badly the school even agreed to pay for its bus ride to and from Atlanta on top of writing a $75,000 check.
Saturday’s game made the reason for Tech’s interest fairly clear. The Yellow Jackets claimed an easy win that provided plenty of playing time for their reserves in a 73-41 win over the Bulldogs. It was Tech’s fourth consecutive win, the first time the Jackets have done that since the 2009-10 season.
“We’re making some progress, there’s no doubt about it,” coach Brian Gregory said. “And we still have a long way to go.”
The Citadel, which entered the game No. 347 out of 347 Division I teams in RPI according to realtimerpi.com, never had a chance against a Tech team that has loaded up on relative weaklings in its final five games before the start of ACC play in January.
Playing before an unusually revved-up holiday crowd of 7,769 that was supported by hundreds of walk-up customers, Tech improved to 8-2 while The Citadel fell to 3-7.
With another efficient all-court performance from freshman forward Robert Carter, Tech led 20-3 less than eight minutes in. After a 17-0 run later on, the margin grew to 39-10 with 3:19 to play in the half. Carter scored nine points on 4-for-7 shooting to go with a team-high 10 rebounds and three steals. A little more than 10 minutes into the game, almost four minutes of which he’d spent on the bench, Carter already had six points and six rebounds.
“I wanted to start out by just being aggressive and just going ahead and making a good start,” Carter said. “I was pretty good at doing that (Saturday), and then Kam (Holsey) and the rest of my teammates came in and continued to pick it up.”
Holsey led all scorers with 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting to accompany seven rebounds in only 16 minutes of play. He led a punishing effort on the glass, as Tech outrebounded The Citadel 51-33. After losing the rebounding battle for five consecutive games, Tech has won the past two, no small matter to Gregory.
While guard Jason Morris missed his second consecutive game with plantar fasciitis, all 11 available scholarship players received double-digit minutes, including newcomers Stacey and Solomon Poole. Solomon, an early-enrollee freshman guard who made his debut Monday against Alabama State, showed some flair in the second half by rebounding a Citadel miss and driving the length of the floor for a basket. He started Tech’s next possession with a steal and led a break that culminated with an alley-oop pass to guard Chris Bolden for a dunk.
Stacey, a guard who transferred from Kentucky in January and played his first game for the Jackets on Saturday, missed his first six shots and finished with seven points and five rebounds.
“Just an intensity guy,” Carter said. “He comes in, he’s always screaming, yelling. He’s ready to play defense.”
The Citadel lost all chance to stay in the game by shooting 3-for-22 from 3-point range, including 1-for-11 in the first half.
“This is a very good Georgia Tech team,” said Bulldogs coach Chuck Driesell, son of the coaching legend Lefty Driesell. “Big, they’re long, they’re athletic, they gave us problems offensively.”
Tech began its holiday break after the game and will return to campus Dec. 26. The Jackets’ next game will be Dec. 29 against Fordham at McCamish.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog