Feb 16, 2002
By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) – Consecutive losses to top-ranked Duke and No. 3 Maryland by a total of 52 points ended up having a positive effect on Georgia Tech.
Tony Akins had 21 points and five assists as the Yellow Jackets shook off those losses with a dominating effort, a 60-40 victory over cold-shooting Saint Louis on Saturday.
“I was afraid those games were going to rob us of a little confidence that we’ve been building,” coach Paul Hewitt said. “But obviously, they didn’t.”
Saint Louis (11-15) shot 19 percent and scored 13 points in one of the school’s worst halves in decades, falling behind by 12 points. It didn’t get much better the rest of the way as the Billikens finished at 31 percent. The beat their season low for scoring, in a loss at home to Marquette last month, by only two points.
“Yeah, it’s one of our worst games,” guard Marque Perry said. “The whole game we were out of sync and we had way too many turnovers.”
Akins was 7-for-10, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range.
“Obviously, he’s been our guy all year,” Hewitt said. “The bottom line is, it begins and ends with Tony. He’s the guy that makes us go.”
Akins also kept Perry, Saint Louis’ leading scorer, from getting involved. Perry, who’s averaging 14.7 points, was scoreless in the first half and finished with eight points and four fouls.
“Late in the second half he kind of got loose,” Akins said. “But for the most part I feel like we did a decent job.”
Georgia Tech (11-15), coming off consecutive losses to No. 1 Duke and No. 3 Maryland, took control in the first half despite shooting only 31 percent. But Georgia Tech also forced 11 turnovers and had a 25-18 rebounding advantage in the deliberately-paced half, leading 25-13.
Georgia Tech, playing in St. Louis for the first time since the 1985-86 season, pulled away in the second half. Halston Lane hit all three of his 3-point shots after the break, two of them in an 11-2 run that made it 45-24 with 8:46 to play.
Saint Louis beat Georgia Tech 67-54 in the Las Vegas Invitational Nov. 24, getting 14 points from Chris Braun. Braun was held to seven in the rematch on 2-for-7 shooting.
Jason Edwin had 10 of Saint Louis’ 13 points in the first half, and he finished with 14 on 5-for-11 shooting.
Saint Louis was 4-for-21 in the first half, and only 1-for-12 inside the 3-point line. After Edwin opened the game with a 3-pointer, the Billikens were scoreless for nearly 10 minutes before Braun hit a free throw.
Saint Louis’ second basket of the game was a layup by Kenny Brown with 8:25 to go in the half.
Coach Lorenzo Romar blamed himself as well as his players.
“I’ve got to look at myself,” Romar said. “I’m the leader of this program and I’ve got to make sure things like these don’t happen.”