Prior to tip-off, Rutland head coach Ron Christian made it clear that Tuesday night’s contest against South Atlanta was no different than any of his team’s previous games this season.
But with the nation’s top recruit, Derrick Favors, on the other end of the floor, the atmosphere was anything but normal.
As the stands filled to capacity and the noise reaching deafening levels, South Atlanta (18-3) left no doubt on its way to a convincing 100-49 victory.
“The last few games we had really come together and started to play as a team,” Christian said. “Unfortunately, we just didn’t play that way (Tuesday). We had 21 first-half turnovers, and you can’t win games playing like that.”
Favors, who committed to Georgia Tech on Jan. 6, scored 31 points before being taken out with 5:47 left in the fourth quarter.
“The height of Favors gave us problems, but I think it was more his wing-span than anything,” Christian said. “It seems like he’s always on his game.”
Starting the game, the Hurricanes’ (10-8) made a point to limit the number of inside touches for Favors.
With Ormaine White denying every entry pass, Favors was held without a shot for the opening two minutes.
From that point on, however, Favors began to dominate.
Connecting on all eight of his first-half field goal attempts, Favors led all scorers with 16 points going into the break.
“He’s by far the best player I’ve ever played against, and it’s not even close,” White said. “I tried everything I could defending him.”
Coming out of halftime, the Hurricanes refused to back down.
Sparked by Dante Gastin, Rutland scored 10 of the first 12 points to open the third quarter, slicing the Hornets’ lead to 58-28.
“We never give up,” White said. “We may be down by a lot, but we’ll play hard until the last second.”
But that was as close as Rutland would get.
Going against the undersized Hurricanes, Favors relentlessly plowed his way to the rim to increase his team’s lead back to 40 points before leaving the game to a loud ovation.
“They wouldn’t be the No. 1 team in the state if they didn’t know how to respond to adversity,” Christian said. “We have to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to improve. We just have to get better as a team.”
Despite going just 1-of-3 from the free-throw line, Favors was a perfect 15-for-15 from the field.
Auburn recruit Andre Malone finished with 21 points for South Atlanta, while Gastin was the lone Hurricanes player to reach double figures with 10.
“Favors is going to get his 30 points every night,” Christian said. “If we learn how to stop the other four guys on the floor, I think we can beat this team.”