ATLANTA (AP) – Transfer guard Trae Golden scored a game-high 16 points to lead Georgia Tech to a 68-50 win over Delaware State Monday, but the Yellow Jackets did not transfer their coach’s preaching to the floor in a game tighter than Tech coach Brian Gregory would have liked.
Tech (2-0) shot 53.3 percent from the field and held the Hornets (1-1) to just 33.9 percent shooting, but Delaware State hung around and was within single digits with about five minutes left because the Jackets failed to take advantage of their manpower on the glass.
The ACC team had just a 30-28 rebounding edge on a MEAC squad and grabbed just four offensive rebounds on 21 missed shots. Despite all the time Gregory has spent harping on the importance of the Jackets following their shots, too often they didn’t.
Junior forward Tyshawn Bell was the only Hornet to score in double figures with 15 points, but the Hornets made up for some of their talent deficiency with abundant energy and by making six 3-pointers to Tech’s two.
More importantly, Gregory wants at least three Jackets going hard after offensive rebounds every time Tech shoots and that rarely was the case in McCamish Pavilion.
“We chart it: OK, you had 20 opportunities to go to the offensive glass, and you only went 10 times. That’s 50 percent. We need to be at 80-85 percent,” the Tech coach said. “It’s the efficiency of going every time that creates second-chance points. Those points are huge, and we had five (second-chance points) out of 68. Ugh.”
Delaware State made just 7-of-30 shots (23.3 percent) in the first half, including 1-of-11 3-pointers.
The Hornets, though, had seven offensive rebounds to Tech’s two in the first 20 minutes and took eight more shots than the Jackets.
Delaware State’s Casey Walker scored nine points on just 3-of-14 shooting, yet the 6-foot-5 senior guard was a thorn in Tech’s side with 10 rebounds – all defensive.
Were it not for Golden making all four of his shots while scoring nine points, and a few easy fast break baskets early, the Jackets’ lead might not have been as big as 31-18.
Even in building that 13-point lead, the Jackets wasted several opportunities by rushing against the Hornets’ zone.
“A lot of times, we get out of sorts,” said Golden, who transferred from Tennessee in order to be closer to his ailing father in metro Atlanta. “From top to bottom, we just have to be mature.”
Delaware State did a respectable job keeping the Yellow Jackets from getting out and running as much as the home team did in an 88-57 season-opening win Friday over Presbyterian. They did that by holding onto the ball deep into shot clocks.
“Man for man, we’re not strong enough to give them so many opportunities,” said Delaware State coach Greg Jackson. “When you’re playing teams on this level, you have to possess the basketball.”
Georgia Tech sophomore forward Marcus Georges-Hunt had 12 points and eight rebounds for the Yellow Jackets, and fellow sophomore forward Robert Carter Jr. added 11 points and blocked five shots.
Delaware State pulled within 50-42 on a trey by Bell with 5:29 left in the game. The Hornets were better offensively in the second half when they shot 46.2 percent.
Or maybe the Jackets became disinterested on defense.
“In order to run, the guys have to understand: that’s the fun part of the game . . . but if you don’t defend and rebound first, you don’t get to run,” Gregory said.
The Yellow Jackets responded with a 9-0 run that was punctuated when Georges-Hunt grabbed a rebound, drove the length of the floor with a Hornet on each shoulder and converted a layup while being fouled by Kendal Williams.
That wound up being a 3-point play, and the Jackets hit 18-of-20 free throws.
Georgia Tech next plays Friday at Georgia while Delaware State will finish an ACC back-to-back road trip with a game Friday at Clemson.