Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 16 points, fellow freshman Robert Carter Jr. had his third double-double and Georgia Tech (10-2) defeated Chattanooga 74-58 Wednesday night.
“Starting the ACC season is going to be real big,” Georges-Hunt said. “I think we’ve improved a lot since the first game. Coach is always pushing us to get better.”
Carter had 13 points and a career-best 12 rebounds as the Yellow Jackets (10-2) pulled away in the second half after a sluggish start. Mfon Udofia scored 14 points for Georgia Tech, which made 17 of 28 second-half shots and outrebounded Chattanooga 42-25 for the game.
“We start off with a team picked in the top four of the league in Miami, a team we struggled with both times last year,” Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory said of his team’s upcoming ACC opener Saturday. “We’re going to have to play extremely well on both ends of the court to be successful.”
The Yellow Jackets were not at their best against Chattanooga (5-9) after three straight blowout victories.
“They gave us a ton of trouble changing up defenses,” Gregory said.
“We just needed to slow down and run our offense,” Georges-Hunt said.
Farad Cobb and Z. Mason led Chattanooga with 14 points. The Mocs led by seven points in the first half but allowed Georgia Tech 34 points in the paint during the game.
“We told ourselves we had to pick up the defense or this game would get out of hand,” Georges-Hunt said.
The Yellow Jackets broke the game open with a 16-6 second-half run, expanding a 40-33 lead with 4:20 gone to 56-39 with 8:30 remaining.
Kammeon Holsey had 10 points, Jason Morris scored nine and Daniel Miller contributed seven points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.
“They kicked our tail on the glass and we’re usually pretty good,” Chattanooga coach John Shulman said. “They won the game on the glass.”
Georgia Tech missed 12 of its first 16 shots and Chattanooga took a 17-10 lead on a basket by Cobb with 8:48 left in the first half. But the Yellow Jackets closed the half with an 18-6 run, taking a 28-23 lead on Morris’ 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
Udofia had eight first-half points for Georgia Tech as both teams shot poorly. The Yellow Jackets were 10 of 29 and Chattanooga 9 of 28. Georgia Tech had 10 second-chance points to two for the Mocs.
The Yellow Jackets had defeated their previous three opponents (Alabama State, The Citadel and Furman) by an average of 30.3 points and held each under 50 points — the first time a Georgia Tech team had done that since the 1959-60 season.
“It was real good (to get a tough game), being that we’re about to start the ACC,” Georges-Hunt said.
“In the second half, offensively we were very good,” Gregory said.
The game was the first of four in a row away from home for Chattanooga. The Mocs are at Samford on Saturday and then continue Southern Conference play at The Citadel and College of Charleston next week.
In its previous games against schools from major conferences, Chattanooga lost at No. 6 Kansas 69-55 on Nov. 15 and at LSU 80-67 on Dec. 11.
The Yellow Jackets’ two losses came at No. 11 Illinois and against California in the DirecTV Classic in Anaheim, Calif.
“Brian Gregory has done a great job,” Shulman said. “We leave here hopefully a better team, and good luck to them. They’re not in our league, which is a good thing.”