The arrival of touted 6-foot-10 freshman Derrick Favors was a big reason Georgia Tech was tagged with a preseason ranking one season after finishing last in the ACC.
It hasn’t taken long for Favors to show his potential, and he’ll try to help the 21st-ranked Yellow Jackets to a win over Boston University on Sunday in the fifth-place game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Georgia Tech (2-1) has shown signs it is still recovering from a 2-14 season in ACC play in 2008-09, turning the ball over 26 times in a 63-59 loss to No. 18 Dayton in the opening round in San Juan.
But Favors’ perfect 6-of-6 performance from both the field and the free-throw line helped the Yellow Jackets bounce back Friday with a 70-62 victory over George Mason.
Favors and 6-foot-9 teammate Gani Lawal each had 18 points, with Lawal adding 14 rebounds for his second double-double in three games. The two players form one of the top frontcourt duos in the country, spurred by some friendly competition.
“We push each other to see who can get the most rebounds, score the most points,” Favors said. “Me and Gani just try to play hard.”
Each player also had three blocked shots, leading Georgia Tech’s stifling defensive effort that held George Mason to 19 first-half points and 35.8 percent shooting for the game.
“When we’re on, we really dominate,” Lawal said. “When our hands are up and we’re active, it’s hard for anyone to score on us.”
The size could create a difficult matchup for Boston University, which has been starting three guards in its first season under coach Patrick Chambers, a former Villanova assistant.
Still, the Terriers (1-3) had a 52-32 edge in rebounds during a 71-67 win over Indiana on Friday, Chambers’ first victory as a head coach. Boston University’s 19 offensive rebounds were the program’s most since it had 25 in a win over Vermont on Jan. 22, 2006.
“We send (three players) to the offensive glass. We stressed it today in walkthrough and all the film sessions,” Chambers said. “When our (big men) are rebounding the ball, that means we can get out in transition and get some easy ones, and that’s what happened in the second half.”
The Terriers outscored Indiana 42-33 after halftime. They were led by 21 points from John Holland, the leading scorer who notched at least 20 for the third straight game off the bench.
Sophomore Jake O’Brien had his first career double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, but will face a tougher task inside against Favors and Lawal.
Boston University was the unanimous preseason pick to win the America East Conference by the league’s coaches, but it has not beaten a ranked opponent since a 62-55 victory over then-No. 18 Navy on March 13, 1959.
The Terriers lost both previous meetings with Georgia Tech, most recently a 73-72 road loss Jan. 10, 1975.