Georgia Tech looked impressive in its season opener, but facing its first tough competition of 2009-10, it looked very much like the team that finished in last place in the ACC last season.
The No. 21 Yellow Jackets look to bounce back from a sloppy performance in their first loss when they take on George Mason in the second round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Friday.
After scoring 100 points in its season-opening win over Florida A&M on Saturday, Georgia Tech (1-1) suffered a 63-59 loss to No. 18 Dayton on Thursday in the opening round of this tournament. The Yellow Jackets led 57-50 with 4:37 remaining but allowed the Flyers to rally in the closing minutes.
Georgia Tech struggled with its control, committing 26 turnovers leading to 27 points for Dayton. Third-year starter Gani Lawal, who didn’t have any turnovers in the opener, had a career-high eight Thursday, including two in the final four minutes.
“We had a little flow going and then we got a little frantic, gave them some life,” said coach Paul Hewitt, whose team averaged 16.8 turnovers last season, most in the ACC and 21st-most in the nation. “The turnovers really hurt us, but you have to give credit to Dayton’s energy.”
Georgia Tech had two players in double figures with freshman Derrick Favors and junior Maurice Miller scoring 10 points apiece. Favors’ dunk with 17.9 seconds remaining made it a two-point game, but Dayton hit two free throws and the Yellow Jackets were unable to answer. Favors, the heralded recruit that played a big part in Georgia Tech’s high ranking coming off a disappointing season, also had six rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets shot 51.1 percent but allowed the Flyers to connect on nine 3-pointers.
Georgia Tech may be in for another fight Friday against an unranked George Mason team that lost a heartbreaker to No. 5 Villanova on Thursday, falling 69-68.
The Patriots (2-1) led by 13 points in the first half and took a nine-point lead into the break after holding the Wildcats to 30.4 percent shooting. Villanova rallied, however, hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining. The Patriots were unable to get off a final attempt.
George Mason starts three underclassmen and has only three upperclassmen on its roster. Forward Louis Birdsong is the team’s lone senior.
“With such a young team, the one thing I can’t do is be impatient with them,” coach Jim Larranaga said.
Sophomore forward Ryan Pearson continued his hot start Thursday, scoring 14 points to go along with eight rebounds. He came in leading the team with 15.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in the first two games.
Andre Cornelius, who started the first two games, scored 13 points in 26 minutes off the bench after being held scoreless in a win over Dartmouth on Sunday.
Friday is the first meeting between these teams. The winner will face the victor of the Indiana-Boston University matchup. The loser will face the other team.