ATLANTA (AP) — Curtis Haywood II scored a career-high 18 points to help Georgia Tech overcome a slow start, but his memory may have been more important than any of his baskets as the Jackets eased past East Carolina, 79-54 on Friday night.
Tech (3-1) missed eight of its first 10 shots and fell behind the Pirates (2-2), 11-6, and Haywood thought back almost a year to when he and former teammate Ben Lammers both went for a defensive rebound late in a game and tipped it in. For the other team.
Grambling State upset the Jackets in that game, 64-63.
He brought it up. Pointedly.
“We started out slow and I was a little roused up,” Haywood said. “I was a little angry at my team for the way we were playing, so I was going a little crazy during the timeout saying all kinds of words.”
Haywood, who hit 5-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-5 from deep, brought up the painful memory. After the rant, the Jackets locked in. And once they locked in, East Carolina was locked out.
Jayden Gardner scored 13 points and Seth LeDay added nine points and nine rebounds off the bench, but East Carolina could not overcome 22 turnovers and a big difference in 3-point shooting.
Tech made 9-of-17 from beyond the arc to East Carolina’s 2-of-17, and the Jackets raced to a 40-22 halftime lead.
“I thought Tech got on a good offensive run,” East Caroalina coach Joe Dooley said. “It was an avalanche. It was very disappointing the way we handled adversity. Tonight, we got hit and we didn’t compete.”
Jose Alvarado added nine points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Michael Devoe, coming back from a toe fracture, also scored 13 points and had four steals.
The Jackets pulled away when Haywood hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Shembari Phillips followed with a trey and a jumper for a 34-18 lead.
“Curt did a great job after the first media timeout,” Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “You can speak until you’re blue in the face (as a coach) about how every possession matters, but the best way for people to understand that is through experience.”
East Carolina: The Pirates held each of their first three opponents (Delaware State, James Madison and Lamar) under 30 percent shooting from deep. The Jackets made 52.9 percent.
Georgia Tech: The Jackets played improved defense. For the first time, no one fouled out.
Georgia Tech starter Evan Cole missed the game with a sprained left ankle.