ATLANTA (AP) Brian Gregory likes to call the end of close games ”winning time.” His Yellow Jackets are living up to that name.
Demarco Cox had 15 points and seven rebounds Georgia Tech improved to 3-0 for the third straight season with a 78-69 victory over IPFW on Friday night.
It was the second time this season Georgia Tech was tested down the stretch. Against Georgia in the season-opener, the Jackets were able to close out a tight game against their in-state rival, and against IPFW, Georgia Tech stretched out a close game in the final eight minutes.
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”I’m pleased that we won the game and we figured out a way to make some key baskets during winning time,” Gregory said. ”Now we move on and try to emphasize some of the small areas we need to improve on.”
Clinging to a one-point lead with 7:02 to play, Georgia Tech put together a 12-1 run to take control of a game Georgia Tech never trailed but could never stretch out. Quinton Stephens – who also made clutch baskets in Georgia Tech’s season-opener – had two jumpers during the decisive stretch, which gave the Jackets a 70-58 lead with 3:53 to play.
”We ran a lot of great sets in the last eight minutes and we executed,” said Marcus Georges-Hunt, who had 13 points and a key 3-pointer during the run. ”Quinton and I knocked down some shots.”
Stephens had 13 points and 10 rebounds, though Gregory emphasized there is improvement needed for the sophomore on the defensive end.
”He was good on offense tonight,” Gregory said.
Big man Steve Forbes led IPFW (2-1) with 17 points and 10 rebounds, though he was held to 6-for-16 shooting from the floor. Mo Evans chipped in 16 points, including three 3-pointers.
”I thought we played well at times,” Forbes said. ”I didn’t play particularly well myself.”
The Mastodons pulled to within one point three times in the second half. Evans played a big part, scoring 13 of his 16 points after halftime.
Georgia Tech jumped out to a 7-0 lead less than two minutes into the game and maintained a steady lead throughout the first half. Josh Heath closed the first 20 minutes with a buzzer-beating floater in the lane that gave the Jackets a 32-26 lead. Georgia Tech held IPFW to 32 percent shooting in the first half.
IPFW: The Mastodons, who won 25 games last season and are the media’s preseason pick to win the Summit League, fell to 0-40 all-time against high-major competition, including 0-6 against the ACC. It will have one more chance to break the streak this season when it visits Purdue on Dec. 8.
Georgia Tech: For the second straight game, Georgia Tech started three transfers. Charles Mitchell (Maryland), Josh Heath (South Florida) and Demarco Cox (Ole Miss) all played for different teams last season but were granted waivers by the NCAA to be eligible immediately at Georgia Tech.
NOT SO FREE
Both teams struggled at the free throw line, with Georgia Tech connecting on just 11 of 25 (44 percent) after entering the game at a shaky 59 percent for the season. IPFW wasn’t much better, hitting 14 of 28 (50 percent), including just 7 of 18 in the second half. ”Do you know any good free throw drills?” IPFW coach John Konchar asked postgame.
STEADY AT THE POINT
Heath had five assists and no turnovers, giving him 16 assists and one turnover for the season.
Konchar played basketball at Marist High School in Atlanta with future Georgia Tech star Matt Harpring in the early 1990s. ”It was neat for me to coach on that floor,” he said.
IPFW: The Mastodons host Jacksonville on Monday.
Georgia Tech: The Jackets will face Marquette on Thanksgiving night in the first round of the Orlando Classic in Orlando, Florida.