ATLANTA -- From the very start, there has been every indication that this is Marcus Georges-Hunt’s team.
The Georgia Tech junior is a three-year starter and considered the Yellow Jackets’ leader. On Monday night, he showed why.
Coming off an unsightly loss in their previous start against USC Upstate, the Yellow Jackets needed to re-establish themselves. And after an eight-day break because of final exams, they could have been a bit rusty.
So Georges-Hunt took care of it himself. He scored 15 points, all in the first half, and played an aggressive floor game to lead Georgia Tech to a 70-57 win over Appalachian State at McCamish Pavilion, improving the team’s record to 7-2.
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“For that 11 or 12 minutes of the first half, Marcus was terrific,” Georgia Tech head coach Brian Gregory said. “He did some really good things.”
Georges-Hunt established command and control in the first half by driving to the basket against the smaller Appalachian State defenders. He was 4-for-6 from the floor and 7-for-8 from the line. Georges-Hunt got in foul trouble early in the second half and had limited opportunities.
That left the door open for big men DeMarco Cox and Robert Sampson, who helped carry the team offensively in the second half. Cox scored 13 points, seven in the second half, and Sampson had 10 points, six in the second half, and grabbed eight rebounds. The Georgia Tech bench outscored Appalachian State’s 32-10.
But the player who made the difference was Georges-Hunt, the team’s captain, who had been held in single digits the past two games, including eight points against USC Upstate. That wasn’t the case Monday, as he added five rebounds and two assists.
“I was trying to be aggressive,” Georges-Hunt said. “Knowing a lot of the time the defense is keying on me, I tried to be as aggressive as possible to open up things for my teammates.”
The aggressiveness showed in the fouls; three of the four were offensive fouls.
Appalachian State wasted no time getting off to a good start and led 11-6 before Georgia Tech could get its footing. That’s about the time the Yellow Jackets began dumping the ball inside or taking it to the basket against the smaller Mountaineers, with Georges-Hunt taking on the brunt of the responsibilities.
Georgia Tech responded with a 9-0 run, tying the game along the way at 11 on a pair of free throws Jackson and taking the lead on Sampson’s dunk. The Yellow Jackets stretched the lead to 17-11, only to have the Mountaineers score six straight and knot the game at 17 on a short jumper by Burgess.
That’s when Georgia Tech began to assert itself in the paint. Cox made a short jumper and Georges-Hunt had eight points, including six free throws drawn while driving to the basket, to spark a 16-6 stretch that gave the Yellow Jackets a 33-23 lead.
“We struggled to get into a flow,” Appalachian State head coach Jim Fox said. “I think that was a credit to them and the adjustments they made early.”
Appalachian State (3-4) cut the lead to seven minutes into the second half, but Georgia Tech responded and pushed its lead to 15 points. The Mountaineers were never in the game from that point.