By D’Mitri Chin
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets battled against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats in their home-opening game of the season, and they escaped what would have been a gut-wrenching loss on their home court. With the win (65-62), the Yellow Jackets improved their record to 1-1.
Senior center Ben Lammers, who was last year’s ACC defensive player of the year and is also projected to be an NBA Draft pick this year, just missed a triple-double outing with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 8 blocks.
“I had to step it up these last couple of early games because we’re missing a few key players, so I just try to be more aggressive on both ends to try to make up for some lost points,” Lammers said as to how he was able to be extremely active for the Yellow Jackets tonight.
The key players Lammers is referring to are Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson. Although Okogie is missing in action due to a finger injury he suffered against Georgia State on Oct. 28, he is serving a six-game suspension for accepting benefits in violation of NCAA rules. Jackson is serving a three-game suspension for the same violation.
While only scoring a measly 35 points in the first half and 65 total points, it was apparent that the Yellow Jackets missed the offensive presence of both Okogie and Jackson.
However, the offense of the Yellow Jackets received a spark from freshman point guard Jose Alvarado, who played a game-high 39 minutes. Alvarado had 18 points, five assists, and six rebounds.
Yes, the Yellow Jackets were able to sneak away with the win, but if they handle the ball offensively as they did against the Wildcats, coach Pastner will see his team on the outside looking in come March. The Yellow Jackets committed 19 turnovers and allowed the Wildcats to score 25 points off those mistakes.
” We would be 2-and-0 if we did a better job of taking care of the ball on fast-break opportunities, I mean, how many layups have we missed on fast-break opportunities?” Pastner said regarding his team’s unfortunate inability to take care of the ball in transition. “It’s just going to come through experience; we’re a very, very young team.”
The Yellow Jackets’ largest lead of the game was 11 with 9:21 in the first half. They lost the lead just once during the game with 14:08 in the second half.
The Wildcats showed great heart and determination throughout the game. Although they only held the lead briefly for a total of 19 seconds, the Wildcats kept the game interesting.
Brandon Tabb led the Wildcats and the game with 21 points. Tabb apparently had the green light he shot 17 jumpers with 16 of them from beyond the arc. He managed to connect on seven of those 16 shots.
The deciding factor in this game was the free throw shooting for both teams. The Wildcats shot a pedestrian 10-25 (40 percent) from the line, while the Yellow Jackets shot 24-31 (77 percent) from the stripe. The Wildcats could have very well clawed the Yellow Jackets if they had merely cashed in on their free throws.
The Yellow Jackets were coming off a disappointing 63-60 loss to UCLA in China on Nov. 10. After two weeks on the road, the Yellow Jackets will look to develop some continuity with their next five games being at McCamish Pavilion.
The Yellow Jackets will tip-off against Texas-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.