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Friday April 29th, 2016 10:24AM

Tech men cruise past East Tennessee

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half Saturday, when Georgia Tech used a big run late in the period to blow open the game on the way to a 87-57 win over East Tennessee State.

In the second half, Georgia Tech (7-3) connected for six of its 10 made 3-pointers as Stacey Poole Jr. hit three treys himself while scoring a career-high 11 points.

If the Yellow Jackets were overconfident after their stirring come-from-behind win over previously undefeated Illinois on Tuesday, it sure didn't show Saturday.

"We may have played as well as we've played all year," said Tech coach Brian Gregory. "Our guys were really dialed in and focused. That was good to see."

The Jackets don't play again until facing Kennesaw State on Dec. 16. As they break for final exam week, they looked like they're locked in on the court.

The Bucs (4-6) hung around for a bit.

The Yellow Jackets led just 24-19 after ETSU's Jalen Riley made a pair of free throws with 7:35 left in the first half. Riley finished with 12 points off the bench.

Georges-Hunt countered with a 3-pointer at the other end, though, and Tech raced from there to a 21-point halftime lead.

"Coach kept emphasizing (getting the ball inside) because that makes it much easier for me and the perimeter players if we get the ball inside," Georges-Hunt said. "Our posts are so great at what they do, when the ball goes inside . . . it leaves perimeter players open."

The Jackets didn't seem fazed that Gregory started freshman Corey Heyward and sophomore Solomon Poole at the guard spots rather than Trae Golden and Chris Bolden.

Golden and Bolden came off the bench as Gregory disciplined them for being late to the team's pre-game breakfast. Golden scored 13 with five assists, Robert Carter Jr. had 11 points and eight rebounds, and Tech held ETSU to 31.3 percent shooting (21-for-67).

Freshman A.J. Merriweather scored 18 points to lead ETSU, and he grabbed seven rebounds. The Jackets had a 46-36 edge in rebounding, however, and generally bullied their way around inside.

Add the fact that the Bucs' two leading scorers entering the game, 6-foot-6 forward Kinard Gadsden-Gilliard and 6-3 guard Rashawn Rembert did not score from the field, and it was a long afternoon for the visitors. Rembert was 0-for-6 and Gadsden-Gillard was 0-for-5.

"They've got size, they defend . . . better than anybody we play . . . they're a great rebounding team . . . kind of my worst nightmares," said ETSU coach Murry Bartow, whose team had won four of five. "Offensively we weren't very good, defensively we weren't very good, and we got out-rebounded by 10."

As the Yellow Jackets pulled away at the end of the first half, they scored the final 11 points of the period and ETSU went scoreless over the final 4:08.

The second half was more of a rout. The Yellow Jackets' biggest lead came when Poole Jr. poured in a trey for an 83-40 edge with 4:59 left in the game.

There was a highlight for the Bucs. Ron Giplaye, a transfer from Providence, played five minutes in the second half in his first action since undergoing open heart surgery a few months ago. Bartow said he had work done on his right coronary artery.

Giplaye scored two points and grabbed three rebounds with a steal and an assist.

"It was a very serious deal, but he's starting to get back to form," Bartow said. "I think he's a guy who can help us. He's just not in great shape yet."
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