Then-No. 22 Tech routed Kentucky State at home 98-50 on Saturday, Jan. 30.
Freshman guard Glen Rice Jr. came off the bench to lead the Jackets in scoring with 15 points. Rice was perfect from the field, making six-of-six attempts including three three-pointers. Three other Tech players finished the game with double-digit points.
It was a homecoming for KYSU Interim Head Coach Clarence Moore, a key reserve for the Jackets during Tech’s Final Four run six years ago.
In the lopsided victory, Tech dominated the Division II team in nearly every statistical category. They made 37-of-52 field goals, nearly 72 percent of their attempts. The Jackets more than doubled the Thorobreds in rebounds, grabbing 34 rebounds to their 15 boards. KYSU did not register a block while Tech had eight.
The eventual blowout began as a close game. More than five minutes into the game, KYSU was within two at 17-15, but this was the closest the Thorobreds would come for the rest of the game. Tech went on a 37-14 run to widen the deficit to 25 heading into halftime.
With the outcome of the game all but decided early in the second half, Head Coach Paul Hewitt elected to pull the starters from the game.
Tech’s reserves had the opportunity to get major playing time. Redshirt senior center Brad Sheehan played 22 minutes, notching seven points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Moe Miller had 20 minutes of playing time, leading all players with six assists. Junior forward Sam Shew played 10 minutes and had three points.
“I’m very appreciative of how hard those guys come out in practice every day…They’ve kept a very good attitude about [playing time],” Hewitt said.
Earlier in the week, Tech defeated Wake Forest 79-58 at Alexander Memorial Stadium. It was the second straight year the Jackets had defeated the Demon Deacons at home.
Tech had five players in double figures, with redshirt senior D’Andre Bell leading all scorers with 16 points.
“I’ve always been a fan of balanced scoring…it spaces the floor out and it makes it easier to get to people,” Hewitt said.
Bell scored the last five points of the game, including a dunk after a steal from sophomore guard Iman Shumpert.
“My body [is] coming back together and all the hard work in the gym [is paying off],” Bell said.
The two teams played a very close first half with six lead changes and no lead bigger than eight. The Deacons had 11 more attempts from the field than Tech but still made two less overall.
Freshman forward Derrick Favors had four blocks in the first half, more than the entire Wake Forest squad in that span. He finished with five. “I wasn’t in foul trouble…so I got comfortable,” Favors said.
In the second half, Wake Forest scored the first four points to cut the lead to two points at 35-33. Tech responded with a 19-4 run to all but put the game out of reach. Still, the Jackets’ recent second-half struggles left at least some doubt about the victory.
“I was still jumpy even though we were up 16,” Hewitt said.
Wake Forest outrebounded Tech during the first half, but the Jackets controlled the boards in the second half.
Tech struggled during parts of the game. Up 17 points, the Jackets proceeded to turn the ball over eight times in the next nine minutes and allow the Demon Deacons to cut the lead to 11 points. Still, Tech’s defense combined with Wake Forest’s defensive struggles allowed Tech to eventually win by 21 points.
“[The plan] was just to keep them off the boards… and outwork those guys. It was a simple game plan,” Lawal said.
Wake Forest struggled from three-point range, shooting three-for-18 in the game.
“It’s just hard work and contesting shots, there’s no secret to it…finding shooters and putting a hand in the face,” Hewitt said.