Alston, Moore help Georgia Tech rout Florida A&M
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By MATT WINKELJOHN
ATLANTA (AP) Brandon Alston scored 15 points, freshman reserve Khalid Moore came out of almost nowhere to add a career-high 14 on a perfect shooting afternoon, and Georgia Tech's defense clamped down on Florida A&M on Sunday as the Yellow Jackets dominated the Rattlers 73-40.
Moore sought no special credit after making all six of his shots, including his first two 3-pointers of his career, even though the forward from Briarwood, New York, entered the game with 16 total points on 3-of-11 shooting in six games.
He put up more than half that in the first half while scoring 10 straight points as Tech (5-3) took a 36-13 lead.
The Yellow Jackets snapped a two-game losing streak.
"I feel like we're all getting better as a team and we're getting more comfortable playing with each other," he said after adding three rebounds and two steals.
Rod Melton Jr. paced Florida State A&M (3-8) with nine points, but the Rattlers had a hard time getting off shots. They made just 34.8 percent (16 of 46) against a Tech defense that entered No. 6 in the nation in field-goal defense (36.3 percent allowed) and blocked seven.
Florida A&M also turned the ball over on 25 of 66 possessions, and Tech converted those miscues into 31 points. The Jackets are 8-0 all-time against the Rattlers.
The first half was especially ugly for the visitors in McCamish Pavilion.
The Rattlers missed their final eight shots before intermission, and paid a price for sloppy ball-handling as Georgia Tech converted 13 Florida A&M turnovers into 19 points before intermission. Other than reserve guard Kamron Reaves, who scored six points on 3-for-4 shooting, the rest of the Rattlers were just 3 for 17 in the half.
"We just got outplayed and outworked across the board," Florida A&M head coach Robert McCullum said moments after barking at his team in the locker room. "Their size and length ... it just dominated.
"The first three possessions just set the tone. We missed two layups and a little jump hook in the paint. Once we missed those opportunities, we just lost confidence and it went the other way."
Moore warmed up in the middle of the first half, when the forward scored 10 straight Tech points, including back-to-back 3-pointers to start the streak.
His last basket in that run, a 12-foot jumper, was the first of a 13-0 run that the Jackets used to close the half for a 23-point lead, and Tech head coach Josh Pastner wasn't surprised.
"I really believe Khalid is going to be a good player, and what it shows you is ... he wasn't even ranked as a top-200 kid," Pastner said. "If you look at the recruiting publications, he was ranked as a midmajor player, but he's gotten better. He's got a chance to be really, really good."
Florida A&M: The Rattlers couldn't get the long ball going. They entered the game making 6.6 3-point shots, but didn't hit one Saturday until junior guard Justin Ravenel, a native of the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia, hit one with 13:23 left in the game for his only points. The Rattlers finished 2 of 11 from beyond the arc.
Georgia Tech: The Jackets were balanced, and junior center James Banks III turned in a solid game in his second start with six points, four rebounds, game highs of five assists and four blocks plus a steal.
Tech's reserves outscored A&M's reserves 36-17, but McCullum wasn't entirely unhappy after backup guard Bryce Moragne finished with seven points, four rebounds and four steals and backup Reaves added six points. Subs provided the Rattlers 10 of their 11 steals and five of their six assists.
"You try to find some positives," McCullum said. "We had some guys come off the bench and fight. That was about it."
Tech freshman reserve guard Michael Devoe, a highly-regarded recruit slowed by a big toe injury in the preseason, had eight points, four steals, three assists and two rebounds.
Florida A&M: The Rattlers' next six games will also be on the road, beginning Dec. 17 at Utah.
Georgia Tech: The Jackets will be off for more than a week before playing host to Gardner-Webb on Dec. 17.
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Updated December 9, 2018