Dec 23, 2003
By TOM SALADINO
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA – Despite another big offensive display, defense has been the key to No. 4 Georgia Tech’s unbeaten season.
The Yellow Jackets matched the best start in school history with their 11th straight victory, routing outmanned Marist 90-40 Tuesday.
“We still are not shooting the ball up to our capabilities, but you’ve got to be strong defensively every night. Again, we did a nice job defensively,” Tech coach Paul Hewitt said.
The Yellow Jackets have outscored their opponents by an average of 26 points a game.
“That’s what coach Hewitt has been stressing – keeping up our defensive intensity,” said Isma’il Muhammad, who led Tech’s balanced scoring with 16 points. “That’s tough to do when you’re up by 20 or 30 points, but we’ve been making a conscious effort.”
“This game, we wanted to come out and start playing defense the way we did at the start of the season,” Elder said.
Marist (1-8) scored the first two points before Tech went on a 12-0 run to begin the rout.
The Yellow Jackets led 38-14 at the half, forcing 14 turnovers and limiting the Red Foxes to only four baskets in 19 attempts (21 percent). For the game, Marist shot 15-for-51 (29 percent) with 21 turnovers.
The eleven consecutive wins the Jackets have posted to open the season is the longest winning streak under coach Paul Hewitt.
“Back in 1982, I coached against Georgetown and they were the No. 1 team in the country and had Patrick Ewing and that’s the last time I’ve seen a team that good defensively and that active, that deep and that versatile until today,” Marist coach Dave Magarity said.
Tech has won all its games by at least 13 points and beat No. 1 Connecticut 77-61 on its way to winning the Preseason NIT earlier in the season.
The 50-point winning margin was the second largest of the season for Tech. The Yellow Jackets beat Tennessee State 94-43 on Dec. 6.
Brandon Ellerbee led Marist with 13 points.
Tech shot 51 percent (36-for-71) from the field and 13-of-22 (59 percent) from the free throw line after making only 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) foul shots in the opening half.
The No. 4 ranking is Tech’s highest since Feb. 24, 1986.
The Yellow Jackets last won 11 consecutive games in 1985-86, when they put together a 15-game win streak.