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Hot shooting helps Tech blow out ETSU

ATLANTA - If it continues to shoot the ball like it did Saturday, the Georgia Tech men’s basketball team is going to be awfully difficult to beat. The Yellow Jackets hit half of their shots in an 87-57 victory over East Tennessee State in non-conference play at McCamish Pavilion.

Tech, which was coming off a thrilling victory over Illinois Tuesday where Daniel Miller made a go-ahead bucket late, needed no such heroics against the visitors from the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Yellow Jackets were 33-of-65 from the field, including 10-of-24 on 3-pointers, and led by as much as 43 points.

“Our guys were really dialed in,” said Tech coach Brian Gregory, whose team improved to 7-3. “They were focused and that was good to see. Sometimes after a big win like Tuesday night you can lose that. I thought we may have played as well as we’ve played all year long.”

ETSU (4-6) was not as fortunate shooting the ball, making just 21-of-66 field goals, and the Buccaneers had one of their scoring droughts late in the opening half. Hunter Harris knocked down a jumper with 4:08 to play, but the visitors got nothing else over the final four minutes as Tech, which shot 49 percent over the first 20 minutes, went into the locker room on an 11-0 run to lead 44-23 at the break.

Marcus Georges-Hunt, who had a team-high 18 points, had a dunk off a feed from Trae Golden, one of 26 Tech assists, and Hunt helped on Golden’s 3-pointer as the hosts stretched the lead out to 62-30 at the 12:29 mark of the second.

“I thought we moved the ball exceptionally well,” Gregory said. “Any time you have 26 assists and 33 baskets that’s pretty good, efficient offense.”

“Obviously not a very good game for us, kind of my worst nightmares came to us,” said ETSU coach Murray Bartow. “The basket started looking pretty good to (Tech).”

A.J. Merriweather scored all of his team-high 18 points in the second half to lead ETSU.

East Tennessee State struggled shooting early in the game and Tech was able to build a double-digit lead.

The Buccaneers missed 12 of their first 13 shots and after a bucket from Harris at the 17:46 mark went more than seven minutes without a field goal. Golden, the regular starting point guard, came off the bench Saturday, but made an immediate impact. Golden assisted on Georges-Hunt’s 3-pointer, part of a 14-point opening half for Georges-Hunt, and Golden had another assist and added two buckets of his own as the Yellow Jackets built a 24-9 lead.

Lester Wilson finally broke ETSU’s long cold spell with a 3-pointer, then drained two more threes, and along with Jalen Riley’s six-foot jumper, the visitors had eight quick points to get to within 24-17 and force a Tech time out with 8:09 left in the half.

After Riley hit two free throws to cap a 10-0 run and make it a 24-19 game with 7:35 left, Golden fed Georges-Hunt for another 3-pointer, then Golden hit a pair from the line to give Tech a 29-19 advantage.

Robert Carter Jr. had two of his 11 points to put Tech up 33-21 before Harris’ basket got the visitors from Johnson City, Tennessee as close as they would get.