Nov. 6, 2004
ATLANTA – B.J. Elder scored 16 points, and Jarrett Jack had 14 points and nine assists to lead fourth-ranked Georgia Tech to a victory in its first exhibition game, 80-60, over Kennesaw State Saturday afternoon at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
The Yellow Jackets, the 2004 NCAA Division I runner-up, outscored the defending Division II champion Owls 36-13 over the last 13:51 of the first half, taking a 51-28 lead into the locker room. Tech forced 15 turnovers in the first half and shot 52.5 percent from the floor.
Tech led by as many as 31 points, 74-43 with 5:56 left in the game, but the Owls rallied to score the next 10 points behind its press and reduced the margin to as few as 18 points, leaving head coach Paul Hewitt less than pleased.
“I thought we weren’t aggressive,” said Hewitt. “I thought Kennesaw State did an excellent job of putting us back on our heels. Our freshmen are going to have to understand that they’re playing against bigger, stronger guys who are well coached. Give credit to Kennesaw State. (Head coach) Tony (Ingle) did an excellent job of getting them in our face in the last 10 minutes and making us look like we were timid.”
Jack had just one turnover and four steals in 23 minutes for Tech. Luke Schenscher was the only other Tech player in double figures with 12 points, hitting six of seven shots from the floor, but did not get a rebound in 16 minutes. Freshman Jeremis Smith led Tech on the boards with eight, and scored four points.
“Jeremis is not one of those guys who you have to worry about being timid,” Hewitt said. “The mistakes he makes are out of aggression, and that’s never bad. We’ve got to get everyone else in the same mindset.
“[Jack] has been playing excellent basketball. He’s been, clearly in my mind, our most consistent player throughout the preseason. Theodis Tarver has also been extremely consistent.”
Tarver, Schenscher’s backup, had seven points and two rebounds, making all three of his field goal attempts, and freshman Ra’Sean Dickey was 2-for-3 for five points, making Tech’s three centers a combined 11-of-13 from the floor.
All 12 players that played for Tech scored at least two points, including freshman walk-on Keith Jones, who scored a layup at the end of the game. A third freshman, Zam Fredrick, had three points and three assists, but was 1-for-7 from the floor.
“For us to be a good basketball team, we have to bring them along,” said Hewitt. “I can’t be a situation where we rely on our top six or seven guys. Our schedule is too rugged. Our league is too rugged. They’re good players, don’t get me wrong. They’re capable of better than they showed today.”
Rey Luque led the Owls with 20 points, and Georgy Joseph also reached double figures with 15. Kennesaw State shot just 37 percent, 29.2 in the second half, had 25 turnovers and was 5-of-22 from three-point range.
“I wanted to see what we would do defensively,” Hewitt said, “because I knew they were going to throw some different things at us. We put in more sets, more concepts, if you will, for this game than we did by this time last year. It was good. It forced us as coaches to put a lot of stuff in. And it forced our players to really think the game.”
The Yellow Jackets have one more exhibition game, at 2 p.m. Nov. 14 against LeMoyne.