November 14, 2009

Jackets pick up first win of 09-10

Georgia Tech came out and showed why they are a top 25 team in the nation with a dominating victory over Florida A&M by a score of 100-59. Tech won the game with suffocating on the ball defense, causing 25 turnovers and getting 17 steals. They held the Rattlers to only 36 percent shooting from the field. Head Coach Paul Hewitt's strategy of turning defense into quick transition offense was executed flawlessly with a full court defense that Florida A&M struggled with mightily. Tech went on an 18-2 run mid-way through the first half to take a 23-point lead and never looked back. The Jackets got 29 points off turnovers, which were almost all either lay-ups or dunks in transition.

Sophomore guard Iman Shumpert led all scorers with 18 points on six of nine shooting in only 19 minutes of action. He summed up their performance by saying, "Coach stressed to us all week because of the overtime game that we need to jump on teams defensively. We have a lot of depth and quickness. A lot of our freshmen are good with their hands and we get a lot of deflections. The pressure worked well, we put the press on early and it started working for us. After that those turnovers turned into offense and that's how you score more points."

Tech also dominated the glass and out rebounded the Rattlers 56-32. They controlled the paint and outscored Florida A&M 48-14 underneath the basket. Forward Gani Lawal had a strong game with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocked shots. Freshman forward Derrick Favors chipped in with 10 points and eight boards.

Hewitt described the team's performance by saying, "We played with a lot of energy on the court. Guys were active off the ball. Glen [Rice Jr.] came in and made some really nice plays, especially in the first half when we started to get out to a big lead. In the second half, Brian [Oliver] was great, knocking down some threes. In order to rebound was well as we did, we were very active contesting shots and getting out into transition."

Brian Oliver caught fire at one point in the second half, hitting four three pointers in a five minute span. He finished the game as the third leading scorer on the team with 12 points.

Favors spoke about the performance by the freshmen in their first game. According to him, "We showed our competitiveness. We came in and proved that we can play and get the job done. Brian Oliver hit a couple of threes, Mfon [Udofia] showed that he can move the ball and play defense, and I just came in and did what I needed to do. We all played a good game."

It is difficult to pick on anything after a 41-point blow out victory, but Tech turned the ball over 18 times on the game. Coach Hewitt explained the turnovers and cited some areas for improvement by saying, "We improved our decision making in the second half. We had 13 turnovers in the first half, but only five in the second half. We had lot of turnovers in the first half when we had shots, but we tried to make an extra pass. Which is nice and a good problem to have but when our point guards get into the high painted area, just shoot the ball instead of trying to throw a lob pass. Especially this time of year when everybody is running to Derrick and Gani, We need to shoot the ball and I'll take our chances on getting second shots with offensive rebounds."

Overall, it was exactly what the Jackets needed in order to head into the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with some momentum. The Jackets will square off against Dayton on Thursday in their first true test of the season.

"We're going to have to be ready for Thursday", Coach Hewitt said. "Dayton is one of the best teams in the country and they won a NCAA tournament game last year against West Virginia. We will know a lot more about our team when we get back from Puerto Rico. That will be a pretty good test for us."

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