Georgia Tech needed a spark after a lackluster first half against visiting Yale. Jose Alvarado came out of the locker room and provided just that. The freshman point guard scored 12 of the Yellow Jackets’ first 16 second half points, including three 3 point shots, on his way to tying his career-high with 23 points. Alvarado capped Tech’s early second half run with a highlight reel assist between his legs to a trailing Josh Okogie, who slammed it home to give Tech a 13 point lead. The Yellow Jackets eventually built that lead to 22 points before putting in some backups at the end of a 74-60 victory.
The first half was a tightly contested back-and-forth affair, with the biggest lead by either team being just 5 points. Coach Josh Pastner seemed to want to try out some different lineups and get the bench some run early, as both Ben Lammers and Josh Okogie got some early rest instead of playing their usual 40 minutes (Lammers still ended up playing 35). In their place, the star of the first half was junior big man Abdoulaye Gueye. Against a smaller Yale front line, Gueye was aggressive taking the ball to the rack or posting up. He scored a career-high 14 points, 10 in the first half, and tied a career-high with 9 rebounds.
Despite Gueye’s best effort, the Jackets struggled for most of the first half. At one point Tech went about 4 minutes without a field goal. On defense, Yale was able to get open at the 3-point line and sink 6 of 15 shots. The Bulldogs take a lot of 3s but, as Rob mentioned in the game preview, they weren’t shooting a particularly high percentage to this point in the season. Tech’s weak three point defense looked like it was going to doom the Yellow Jackets yet again.
In addition to Alvarado’s hot shooting, Georgia Tech also stepped up the defensive intensity in the second half, rotating quicker and making it more difficult for Yale to get a good shot off. As a result, the Bulldogs hit on just 3 of 12 shots beyond the arc in the second half and scored a season-low 60 points.
Four Georgia Tech starters scored in double digits. In addition to Alvarado and Gueye, Josh Okogie scored 20 points on 5/7 shooting (he hit 8/10 at the free throw line) and Ben Lammers put in 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. In a bit of a surprise, freshman Curtis Haywood II saw his first game action since December 6th. The sharp shooter was cleared to play earlier in the day after rehabbing a shin injury. Haywood did not take a shot but did pull down a pair of rebounds in 9 minutes of action. At the end of the game, sophomore Sylvester Ogbonda got his first action after missing six weeks with an ankle injury. Sophomore Justin Moore did not dress as a coach’s decision, but for the first time all season no Yellow Jackets were out with an injury.
Georgia Tech’s next game will be an early rematch against Notre Dame on Wednesday night. Since their last meeting, the Fighting Irish have lost star F Bonzie Colson to a broken foot and senior PG Matt Farrell to a sprained ankle. Despite the loss of their leaders, the Irish are 3-0 in the ACC after blowing out NC State and clipping Syracuse at the buzzer.