Nov. 5, 2016
THE FLATS – Tadric Jackson scored a team-high 27 points, nine of them in overtime, lifting Georgia Tech past Shorter, 95-87, Saturday night in an exhibition game at McCamish Pavilion.
Center Ben Lammers added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets, who open their regular season at home (8 p.m.) next Friday night against Tennessee Tech. Freshman Josh Okogie scored 16 points and Quinton Stephens chipped in 11 to help the Jackets avoid defeat to the Division II Hawks from Rome, Ga.
Phil Taylor, a former Florida International guard, poured in 37 points for the Hawks, hitting seven three-point field goals while going 12-for-29 from the floor, while Alijah Bennett added 15 and Eric Ross scored 11. Shorter made 14 three-point field goals in 38 attempts.
In its first public contest under new head coach Josh Pastner, Tech rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final 6:06 to force the extra period, and Jackson scored six points in the final 2:44, including a pair of game-tying free throws with 12 seconds on the clock. In overtime, Tech took charge by scoring the first seven points, five of those by Jackson.
“We were a different team from how we’d been practicing and how we played last Saturday. I was like `who are these guys?,'” said Pastner. “That’s why this game was important to us. We need to be able to play under the lights just to get the jitters out. Josh Okogie and (freshman guard) Justin (Moore) were huffing and puffing through the first two minutes of the game. They were exhausted. They were so gassed up to play that it wore them out.”
Okogie began Tech’s late march with a layup at 5:15 and two free throws at the 4-minute mark to close the gap to 74-69. Stephens made one of two foul shots, and Jackson made two more to bring Tech within 74-72 with 2:44 left. After a Bennett free throw at 2:20 extended the Shorter lead to 75-72, Jackson hit a jumper at 1:24, and Stephens followed one possession later with another jumper to give Tech a 76-75 lead with 42 seconds to go.
Not to be denied, Taylor sank a high-arching three from the left corner over the outstretched hand of Lammers, giving the Hawks the lead back at 78-76 with 26 seconds to go. Jackson then drew a foul on a drive into the lane for the chance to make the game-tying free throws.
Once in overtime, Tech’s running game took off. Okogie made two free throws less than a minute in to snap the tie, then Jackson converted a drive for a basket and a foul shot for an 83-78 lead. The junior from Tifton, Ga., followed a Shorter turnover with a layup at 3:01 to make the score 85-78, then answered a Shorter basket with a pair of free throws at 2:30 to give the Jackets an 87-80 lead. Tech got a layup by Okogie, a dunk by Jackson and two buckets by Stephens in the final 2:05.
Lammers and Jackson both went 9-for-10 from the floor for the Yellow Jackets.
“This was good for us. I’m glad we won, but there’s a lot of teaching points here,” added Pastner. “The 20 turnovers were a lot, obviously, and we didn’t make a three. I love the fact that we got to the free throw line. Our goal was to make more free throws than they attempted, which we did. We didn’t do well on our assists because we were pounding the ball. Our cuts were too slow. We weren’t violently cutting. We were plus-one on the 50-50 balls; they beat us to a lot of balls. That’s why the score is what it is. They kicked our butt in a lot of 50-50 ball areas. But we found a way to win and we made some free throws, especially down the stretch.”
Tech was shut out from the three-point line in 14 attempts, but went 16-for-24 from the foul line in the second half and overtime (5-for-5) and scored 62 points in the paint for the game. The Jackets out-rebounded the smaller Hawks, 45-32, and finished the game hitting 55.9 percent from the floor, including 62.9 percent in the opening half and 6-for-9 in overtime.