Georgia Tech eases past Savannah State 65-45

Photo by Brian Giandelone

Photo by Brian Giandelone

SAVANNAH -- The lightheadedness hit Daniel Miller a few minutes before tip-off of Georgia Tech's game against Savannah State on Saturday night.

"It was weird; I ate my normal meal, did my normal things during warm-ups," Miller said. "Thankfully, it didn't affect me too much once the game started."

Miller made Savannah State sick instead in a 65-45 Yellow Jackets win at Tiger Arena. The 6-foot-10 center was a force on both offense and defense. He made all six of his shot attempts to score 12 points and blocked four shots despite playing just 20 minutes because of his illness.

The performance comes on the heels of Miller scoring 10 points -- on 5-of-5 shooting -- grabbing nine rebounds and blocking four shots in Georgia Tech's last game against rival Georgia in Athens.

"He's been great the last two games, and I would have liked to have seen what he'd done if I hadn't had to keep taking him out of the game," said Yellow Jackets coach Brian Gregory, whose team is now 6-4. "But if anything, I want to see him get even more aggressive as the season goes on."

Gregory came into Saturday's game concerned about the Yellow Jackets' aggressiveness following Wednesday's emotional victory over the Bulldogs. The 68-56 win was Georgia Tech's first in Athens in 35 years.

Human nature, Gregory said, dictated the Yellow Jackets were due for a letdown Saturday against relative Division I newcomer Savannah State. The Tigers (3-7) moved to college basketball's top level 10 years ago but gained membership in a league, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, just this year.

"Coach Gregory started preaching to us about staying focused for this game about two seconds after we got into the locker room after the Georgia win," Miller said. "And there for a minute, it looked like he was right to be concerned."

The referenced "minute" was the final 84 seconds of the first half Saturday night. Savannah State closed with a 5-0 run to cut Georgia Tech's lead to 26-19 at halftime.

Gregory had some stern words for his team during the break, according to Miller, and the Yellow Jackets bull-rushed the Tigers to start the second half. Georgia Tech scored the first nine points of the half to stretch its lead to 16 points.

The Yellow Jackets coasted from there, leading by as many as 25 points.

Offensive woes kept Savannah State from being competitive. The Tigers were at a size disadvantage and struggled to get their two top scorers, post players Rashad Hassan and Arnold Louis, into rhythm. Miller and Georgia Tech frontcourt mates Kammeon Holsey and Nate Hicks limited Hassan and Louis to a combined 12 points.

The Savannah State duo came in averaging 21 points between them.

Without an inside presence, the Tigers morphed into a jump-shooting team. Savannah State shot a season-low 28.3 percent from the floor, making 17 of 60 shots, and went 4 of 20 from 3-point range.

"We couldn't really get anything going inside," Savannah State's Hassan said. "We have good shooters, but we can't expect them to shoot well enough to keep us in the game against a good team like that."

Hassan and guard Preston Blackmon led Savannah State with 10 points each.