Georgia Tech buzzes past struggling Georgia

semerson@macon.comDecember 4, 2012 

ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech has a new building and on the court, a sense of what it’s trying to do.

Georgia is still trying to find itself, especially when it comes to scoring.

That formula added up to Georgia Tech coming away with a 62-54 win Tuesday night. Although the Bulldogs did make it interesting in the end, the Yellow Jackets ­(5-2) led wire-to-wire on the way to earning a second straight win over their rivals -- and the first at McCamish Pavilion.

For Georgia Tech, it was another step in the process for second-year coach Brian Gregory, who can boast he has yet to lose to the Bulldogs.

“When you get a good win against a rival and you see the guys playing better and competing better like this, you can really get a measure for where you are in your development,” Gregory said.

But for Georgia (2-6) it was another setback in an ugly start to the season.

“Absolutely it’s frustrating, especially guys like us, we all come from winning,” junior forward Marcus Thornton said. “It’s what we can control. It’s not outside our hands; it’s not like somebody from the outside is beating us. It’s all we can do is continue to work, try to get better and win some games.”

Once again, the main culprit for Georgia was scoring. Star guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (16 points and 13 rebounds) tried to win the game by himself, and the result was a 5-for-18 shooting night. He was also 1-for-8 from the field.

A pair of freshmen, Brandon Morris and Kenny Gaines, had good nights off the bench for Georgia. But the main theme of the season continued: little help from Caldwell-Pope’s supporting cast.

“We don’t know what we’re looking for; we’re forcing up shots in areas we shouldn’t be,” Thornton said. “It’s like a different area in every game. We just don’t know exactly what it is that we do well yet.”

The Bulldogs didn’t have much resembling a halfcourt offense in the first half, after which they found themselves trailing by 13. They got more aggressive in the second half, drawing within five in the latter minutes. But it was too late.

“We defended adequately enough to win. Had we not fouled at the end, they’d be under 60,” Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. “We just don’t score enough.”

Three-point shooting carried the night for Georgia Tech, which was 9-for-21 from beyond the arc. Senior Mfon Udofia (18 points, three 3s) and freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt (12 points, three 3s) did the most damage.

Georgia Tech used 3s to pull away gradually in the first half. The Yellow Jackets went 6-fot-10 from beyond the arc in the half, with four different players nailing 3s.

Georgia, meanwhile, was not only 1-for-9 beyond the arc in the first half but struggled around the hoop, as well.

When the second half began, the Bulldogs had a better halfcourt strategy -- attack the hoop. It worked most of the time, allowing them to get their deficit to single digits for the first time since late in the first half. And a layup by Morris made it 48-42.

But a 3-pointer from George-Hunt at the top of the key pushed it back to a nine-point Georgia Tech lead. Fox pounded his fist in frustration. He was even angrier a minute later when another Georges-Hunt 3, this after Georgia couldn’t secure an offensive rebound, made it a 13-point lead.

Caldwell-Pope did everything he could to get Georgia back in the game. And some aggressive defense by the Bulldogs paid off, too, drawing them within 55-50 with 2:07 left.

They had a chance to cut it further, but a Vincent Williams runner was blocked out of bounds with one second left on the shot clock. On the other end, Udofia got a clear lane to the basket as the shot clock drew down and nailed the layup while being fouled. His three-point play basically sealed the game.

The game was announced as a sellout, the second in three home games for the Yellow Jackets.

“This place has a chance to become a special home court,” Gregory said. “The crowd is on top of you, it’s really loud and the students are tremendous again.”

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