After four-overtime loss, Georgia Tech motivated for Mercer

NCAA Men's Basketball

Georgia Tech will have additional motivation when it hosts Mercer in its second game of the basketball season on Friday in Atlanta: atoning for a four-overtime loss in the opener.

The Yellow Jackets, considered a potential NCAA Tournament team from the ACC, was stunned by Georgia State of the Sun Belt Conference, 123-120, on Wednesday night — the longest game in the history of both schools.

Now, Georgia Tech can’t afford another slipup against Mercer, a member of the Southern Conference from nearby Macon.

“We made a lot of mistakes, missed some free throws, made some turnovers, but it’s the first game,” Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “We will improve. We will get better. We have to make adjustments and use this as a teaching tool to get better.”

Georgia Tech has one of the top guard duos in the ACC. Both senior Jose Alvarado and junior Michael Devoe started the season with a career-first double-double. Alvarado recorded 29 points and 10 rebounds, and Devoe had 24 points and 12 rebounds against Georgia State.

Center Moses Wright, who had 31 points and 20 rebounds, became just the second player in program history to reach the 30-20 milestone. Jim Caldwell (33 points, 20 rebounds) was the other in 1964. But the long-limbed senior was disappointed his team was outscored 64-50 in the paint against Georgia State.

Mercer, located about 90 miles away in Macon, is best known for shocking Duke in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The Bears play in the Southern Conference and went 17-15 (11-7 Southern) last season; they were projected to finish fourth in that league.

Mercer opened with a 79-48 win over Division II North Georgia on Wednesday. The Bears had four players in double figures and pulled away in the second half, outscoring their opponent 43-19.

“What we did was try to figure out what guys would do well,” Mercer coach Greg Gary said. “We have a deep team and if some guys are working well, I’m going to keep rolling with them.”

Nine players played at least 10 minutes for the Bears in the victory.

Mercer is led by veteran guard Ross Cummings, who was 6-of-10 from the floor and scored 15 points in the opener.

Georgia Tech and Mercer have played 45 times, the most for the Yellow Jackets against a non-conference opponent. Georgia Tech leads the series 28-17. The Yellow Jackets have won 11 of the past 13 meetings, but Mercer captured the most recent contest by a 65-59 margin in 2011 at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth while Georgia Tech’s home arena was under reconstruction.

–Field Level Media

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