The Jackets improve their season standing to 2-0 after defeating the Delaware State Hornets 68-50. Senior guard Trae Golden led Tech with 16 points on 7-10 shooting, while sophomore guard Solomon Poole provided a career high eight assists and only turned the ball over once.
“I thought Trae [Golden] played very well. I thought Solomon [Poole], even though he didn’t make a basket, did some good things with eight assists,” said coach Brian Gregory. “You kind of see the opportunities we have with multiple guards, multiple roles and different statistical areas that each guy can do a little bit of.”
The Jackets got off to a quick 4-0 start after a free throw by sophomore center Robert Carter Jr. followed by a three point play from sophomore forward Marcus Georges-Hunt. With the score at 6-3, the Jackets would go on a 19-6 run to increase their lead to 25-9 with 5:51 remaining in the half.
During the run, sophomore guard Corey Heyward, who missed last season due to injury, scored his first career points on two free throws. Completed free throws were a theme for the Jackets in the first half as they converted on nine of 11 attempts. Free throws appears to be an area of improvement for the Jackets this season. They are shooting 78 percent as a team as opposed to last year’s 64 percent, which ranked last in the ACC.
Tech’s defense, an area Coach Gregory believed the Jackets needed to improve after the opening night win over Presbyterian, held the Hornets to just 7-30 shooting in the first half and just 1-11 from three point range.
“In the first half we missed so many wide open shots. When playing teams on this level, you can’t afford to spot a team that way,” said Hornets’ Coach Greg Jackson.
The half ended with Carter Jr. blocking Kendall William’s layup and Tech would go into the half with a 31-18 lead.
Freshman guard Travis Jorgenson, who had a stellar debut, scoring eight points to go along with five assists in he season opener against Presbyterian, particularly struggled with shooting in the first half. Jorgenson shot 0-4 from the field and had only one assist while also committing a turnover. Even with Jorgenson struggling, Gregory was pleased with the overall play from the guards.
“If you look at our primary guards, Solomon had eight assists and one turnover, Trae [Golden] had three and three and Travis had two and one. That’s 13 and five and that’s a pretty good ratio from our guards. Our goal is total production there and I’m pretty pleased with that aspect of it because they took care of the ball,” Gregory said.
The Jackets would score the first six points of the second half to increase their lead to 37-18, but then the Hornets would finally find their shot. After shooting just 23 percent from the field in the first half, the resurged Hornets finally got some shots to fall in the second half and shot 46 percent, including five three pointers.
The Hornets cut the lead down to 14 with 14:17 remaining, and two three pointers from Delaware State’s Casey Walker with a Kammeon Holsey layup in between would bring the Jackets’ lead down to just 10.
A three pointer by Delaware State’s Tyshawn Bell cut the lead to just eight points with 5:32 remaining, but Golden hit a jumper on Tech’s next possession, which was the beginning to 9-0 run by the Jackets.
Tech struggled with perimeter shooting for most of the night, missing their first eight attempts. Georges-Hunt connected on a three with 2:49 remaining, not only putting the game out of reach for the Hornets—the lead was stretched to 15—but also ensuring that Tech’s streak of 260 consecutive games with a three pointer made would live on. Junior guard Stacey Poole Jr. would convert Tech’s second three pointer of the game with just 30 seconds remaining, and the Jackets won 68-50.
Although Tech out-rebounded Delaware State 30-28, the Jackets did allow the Hornets to get 11 offensive rebounds, while the Jackets were only able to get four. Coach Gregory said the reason Delaware State was able to get so many offensive rebounds was that their missed threes were leading to long rebounds, and that it is hard to rebound when you are out of position defensively, which he said Tech was at times.
Coach Jackson of Delaware State said his team was able to rebound so successfully due to his team’s energy and effort.
The Jackets will head to Athens tonight looking to pick up their third consecutive victory over UGA, which is 1-0 this season with their lone win coming over Wofford last Friday night. UGA returns several key players from last season including Nemanja Djurisic and Donte’ Williams, but lost leading scorer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the NBA Draft.
Tech is 2-0 against the Bulldogs under Gregory, defeating them 62-54 last season.
“Obviously it’s a big game, because it’s the Georgia game,” Gregory said.