Georgia Tech has seemed to regain its swagger on its home court this season after struggling for consistency there the previous two seasons.
The 22nd-ranked Yellow Jackets have an excellent chance to continue that success as they take a break from ACC play with Saturday’s visit from Division II Kentucky State.
Georgia Tech (15-5) improved to 10-1 on its home floor in impressive fashion with Thursday night’s 79-58 blowout of Wake Forest.
The Yellow Jackets shot 53.7 percent in their fifth straight home victory and had five players score in double figures, led by D’Andre Bell’s season-high 16 points. They also continued their run of strong defensive efforts by holding the Demon Deacons to 19 points below their season average, 32.8 percent shooting and a 3-of-18 performance from 3-point range.
“I’m not really sure we can play much better than that,” coach Paul Hewitt said. “I thought we did a really solid job tonight. I’m real proud of our guys, and I’m happy to get the win.”
Georgia Tech, among the nation’s leaders in allowing opponents to shoot 37.0 percent this season, has limited visiting teams to 35.7 percent shooting and 59.4 points per game. Before easily dispatching Wake Forest, the Yellow Jackets upset a pair of Top 25 opponents in Duke and Clemson.
Those efforts have given Hewitt’s team, 15-15 at home over the previous two seasons, a chance to win six in a row in Atlanta for the first time since Feb. 3-March 4, 2007. The Yellow Jackets were 17-1 at home that season en route to their most recent NCAA tournament appearance.
By all indications, they have a good opportunity for another home victory Saturday against the struggling Thorobreds, coached by former Georgia Tech player Clarence Moore. They’ll try to use that as momentum heading into their next game, a road matchup with No. 8 Duke on Feb. 4.
The 28-year-old Moore, a member of the 2003-04 national runner-up squad, took over after Thomas Patterson left the Frankfort, Ky., program midway through last season. The former Yellow Jackets forward helped Kentucky State win seven of its final nine games, but hasn’t duplicated that success so far this season.
The Thorobreds (4-12) have suffered six of their losses by six points or fewer and three in overtime, but prevailed after two extra periods Thursday night, 92-91 against visiting Stillman College for their second win in four games.
Tony Johnson hit the winning free throw with four seconds left and finished with 21 points. Johnson, a junior guard, leads Kentucky State with 15.1 points per game.
The Thorobreds, losers in eight of nine on the road this season, have dropped five in a row away from home.
This is the first meeting between the schools.
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