By MATT WINKELJOHN
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech was mostly ice cold early, but Michael Devoe was hot all night on the way to tying his career high with 22 points to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 64-41 win over Elon on a night where both teams had a tough time finding the basket.
The Yellow Jackets (2-0) were particularly stingy on defense, holding Elon to 21.6 percent shooting (16-of-74), but they struggled in the first half in the absence of junior point guard Jose Alvarado. He missed the game with a sprained right ankle.
Devoe made 7-of-11 shots, including 3-of-4 3-pointers and 5-of-6 free throws. His teammates were 13-of-42.
The Phoenix (2-1) entered the game as one of the nation’s top 3-point shooting teams, connecting for 44.4 percent in their first two games. But they made just 3-of-30 3-pointers Monday, and when they tried to take the ball inside, Tech’s James Banks III was usually waiting.
The senior center blocked six shots to go along with 11 points and seven rebounds.
And on defense, Tech absolutely stifled Elon, whose first two wins came against Division II programs Mars Hill and Milligan.
That defense helped the Jackets hold off Elon despite the home team shooting just 30.4 percent in the first half. The Phoenix under first-year head coach Mike Schrage, an Atlanta native, collapsed their defense into the paint to make scoring that much more difficult.
“I would just say it was execution,” Devoe said. “We weren’t running things properly, but we had a great defensive game today.”
That the Jackets did, and Banks — a member of last year’s All-ACC defensive team — was right in the middle of it.
Elon made just 3-of-30 3-point shots, and after trailing 25-13 at halftime, the Phoenix fell irreparably behind when Tech opened the second half with a 16-4 run capped by consecutive jumpers by junior transfer guard Bubba Parham.
The Jackets blocked 10 Elon shots on a night when the Phoenix seemed to either launch the ball from distance, and miss, or attack the basket only to be rejected.
“I thought we tried to challenge Banks a little too much,” Schrage said. “I think we have a good shooting team. We shot really well in the last two games, obviously against different opponents than Georgia Tech.”
Tech made just 7-of-23 shots before intermission in McCamish Pavilion, yet led 25-13 because the Phoenix made just 6-of-32 shots.
Marcus Sheffield, an Atlanta-area native who transferred to Elon after graduating from Stanford, led the Phoenix with 12 points and eight rebounds yet he made just 6-of-19 shots.
The Jackets pulled away in the second half with more crisp offense and Tech won this one with defense.
“That’s who we are, what we do and what we’re about,” said Tech coach Josh Pastner. “We had to guard at a really high level against a team that came in fifth in the country in 3-point shooting. So, really proud of our defensive intensity.”
Elon: The Phoenix had absolutely nothing go right in the course of play, and made it to the free throw line just 10 times, hitting on six.
Georgia Tech: The Jackets don’t have much to be proud of after this one outside of their defense. They made just 7-of-24 3-pointers and turned the ball over 17 times in a game where they were not anywhere near as impressive as in their season-opening 82-81 win at North Carolina State last Tuesday.
HITTING THE BOARDS
Pastner forever harps on the importance of his guards rebounding, and he got plenty out of his backcourt Monday. Freshman guard Asanti Price grabbed 10 boards off the bench, and the 5-foot-10 Parham added six. Sophomore forward Khalid Moore did a little bit of everything, scoring eight points with nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Elon: The Phoenix travel to face Michigan on Friday.
Georgia Tech: The Jackets are off for more than a week before playing at rival Georgia on Nov. 20.