Jan. 25, 2017
ATLANTA (AP) Josh Okogie loves how Georgia Tech is building momentum this season.
More talented teams with deeper rosters keep falling to a group of Yellow Jackets who nobody predicted would win more than a couple of conference games.
No. 6 Florida State is the latest victim.
”We had tremendous energy, and then I don’t think they had the energy to match us,” Okogie said. ”We were just feeding off that.”
Okogie scored 35 points, Ben Lammers added 18 and Georgia Tech pulled its second home upset of a Top 10 opponent with a 78-56 victory Wednesday night.
Georgia Tech (12-8, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) led 41-15 at halftime and 70-47 with 6:52 remaining on Lammers’ dunk. Florida State never got closer than 18 points in the second half.
It was the first time the Yellow Jackets beat two Top 10 teams in the regular season since 2003-04.
Few signs pointed to a meltdown for the Seminoles (18-3, 6-2). They were tied for first place in the ACC and had gone 5-1 in their last six games, all against ranked opponents.
Florida State never trailed in a five-point win over Louisville last Saturday, but they fell behind so quickly that coach Leonard Hamilton cleared his bench early the first half, using all 13 players. The starting lineup of Dwayne Bacon, Jonathan Isaac, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Terance Mann and Michael Ojo averaged just 8.6 minutes before intermission.
Bacon, the ACC’s eighth-leading scorer, finished with 12 points on 4-for-15 shooting. Nobody else scored in double figures for the Seminoles.
”We couldn’t make anything to save our lives,” Rathan-Mayes said. ”Nothing would go in for us from layups to dunks to free throws.”
Quinton Stephens scored 13 points and hit three 3-pointers for the Yellow Jackets. Okogie and Lammers combined for 25 rebounds.
Georgia Tech, which had lost 10 of 11 to Florida State, enjoyed its second home victory over a Top 10 opponent under first-year coach Josh Pastner.
The Yellow Jackets upset then-No. 9 North Carolina on Dec. 31, three days after barely escaping with a home win over North Carolina A&T. They also played then-No. 9 Louisville at home before losing, but returned with a win over a veteran Clemson team.
Last week, Georgia Tech lost by one point at Virginia Tech and by 13 at then-No. 16 Virginia.
”In year one of a major rebuild job, this is great for us and for people to see what we’re trying to do and the vision of what we’re trying to accomplish here in the long term,” Pastner said.
Florida State: Maybe this game will be an outlier for a strong, balanced roster, but who saw this coming?
The Seminoles had been dazzling, climbing to their highest ranking in The Associated Press poll since getting ranked No. 6 on Feb. 22, 1993. They had won 14 of 15 with losses only to North Carolina and then-No. 25 Temple.
Hamilton will have to get his team to move past this game quickly. He pulled his starters early in the first half as Florida State trailed 17-4, missing nine of its first 11 shots from the field with six fouls and two turnovers.
”I don’t think we’ve shot like that ever,” Mann said. ”We’ve got to bounce back.”
The first half was a disaster as the Seminoles missed 29 of 35 shots and were 1 for 11 on 3-point attempts.
Okogie can score from all over the court. He first showed his proficiency Nov. 26 against Tulane, setting the school record for a freshman with 38 points. It broke the mark of 33 shared by Mark Price against Virginia in the 1983 ACC Tournament and by Dion Glover against Seton Hall in the 1998 NIT.
Florida State: Visits Syracuse on Saturday and Miami on Feb. 1.
Georgia Tech: Hosts No. 14 Notre Dame on Saturday and visits Clemson on Feb. 1.