ATLANTA (AP)Georgia Tech didn’t need to go far on Tuesday night to string together its first streak of consecutive wins in nearly two months.
James Banks III scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots in just 17 minutes of action to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 82-54 win over Morehouse on a night the home team was never threatened.
Tech (10-11, 4-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) had no problems with the Division II program that’s not a cross-town rival, but rather a neighbor. Morehouse is located less than two miles from McCamish Pavilion.
Head coach Josh Pastner said he scheduled Morehouse during one of Tech’s ACC open dates mostly because he doesn’t like his team to be idle for an entire week.
The Jackets were able to stretch their legs, and their bench, as Tech played all 13 players other than injured starter Michael Devoe (foot) and Kristian Sjolund, who is redshirting.
”We weren’t able to find a Power Five (opponent) and so if we weren’t able to get one of those . . . we felt it was best to play another program locally, and make it a community event,” Pastner said. ”I was proud of our guys that we kept continuing to find the open man. We shared the ball.”
The Jackets made 24 assists on 30-of-67 shooting. Forward Jordan Usher had six assists for the second game in a row.
Tech moved to 2-0 all-time against Morehouse and won its second straight home game after losing five consecutive games in McCamish.
Michael Olmert led Morehouse (9-9, 6-5, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) with nine points while Julian Alexander added eight off the bench. Malik Kennedy scored seven and Xavier Brewer pitched in three points and a team-high seven rebounds for the Maroon Tigers.
Georgia Tech dominated on the boards, pulling down 45 rebounds to 30 for Morehouse.
The Jackets eased through the first half, taking a 44-22 lead by the break as Moses Wright connected on 4 of 5 shots and Georgia Tech built a 23-12 rebounding advantage. Wright finished with 11 points.
The Jackets bludgeoned Morehouse in the paint, outscoring them 22-10 over the first 20 minutes.
Olmert was the only Morehouse player to make more than one shot in the first half. He hit 2 of 5 tries for a team that made 8 of 26.
Robert Andrews, who leads Morehouse with a 12.9-point scoring average, left after spraining his ankle. He scored two points.
”I think the only bad thing that came out of this is that our best player sprung his ankle,” said Morehouse coach Grady Brewer. ”I’m hoping this experience will help us down the line.”
Morehouse: The Maroon Tigers were overwhelmed in the paint, where they were outscored 42-24, and painfully beaten on the boards, 45-30.
Georgia Tech: Sophomore forward David Didenko, a transfer from Palm Beach State College who is a native of Yakutsk, Russia, scored his first points for the Yellow Jackets when he connected on a 3-pointer midway through the second half. . . . Freshman walk-on guard Coleman Boyd scored his first points, too, also on a 3-pointer.
THE KOBE EFFECT
Tech held a moment of silence before the game for former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles. Forward James Banks III didn’t pick up basketball until middle school, but, through a basketball simulation video game, Bryant had something of an effect on him even before that. ”Before I really started playing basketball, I was playing 2K11, and they had just won the finals the year before,” he said. ”I had bought a magazine and inside that magazine was a demo for 2K11, and I remember playing it . . . I had like five minutes . . . I would go to the corner and shoot fadeaway 3s (as Bryant in the video game). I begged my Mom to buy me that game.”
HOME AND HOME?
Usher said after the game that he knows several Morehouse players, and he would like to play there in the future. He even suggested that the atmosphere would be more energized on the Morehouse campus than having the game at Tech, where attendance was well below the announced 4,133. When asked about the possibility of playing at Morehouse, Pastner demurred, saying that decision was above his pay grade. Brewer, an Atlanta native who played at Morehouse and has coached there for 20 years, said he would welcome Tech to make the short drive past Mercedes-Benz Stadium. ”Absolutely. Any time,” he said. ”I think it’s great for the city of Atlanta.” Usher added that he plans to attend Morehouse’s next game, Monday against Savannah State. ”I hope they use this (game) and smash somebody,” he said.
Morehouse: Monday at home against Savannah State.
Georgia Tech: Saturday, at Notre Dame.
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