ATLANTA — Coach Paul Hewitt wouldn’t hesitate to let freshman shooting guard Iman Shumpert run his offense again."I asked the guys at halftime, ‘Who’s out there playing with energy and awareness?’ " Hewitt said. "They recognized it was Iman."
Gani Lawal and Alade Aminu combined for 30 points and 20 rebounds in Georgia Tech’s 74-47 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday night.
But Shumpert, replacing injured point guard Moe Miller, paced the Yellow Jackets’ offense with eight assists and orchestrated an attack that forced Georgia Tech (3-0) to increase its intensity on defense, too.
With Miller watching from the bench after sustaining a mild concussion in an overtime victory at Mercer last weekend, Shumpert moved from shooting guard to start at the point.
Shumpert, whose fast-break runner made it 43-31 with 15:20 remaining, finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 28 minutes.
Lebaron Weathers and Terrance Calvin each scored 11 points for Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-5).
The Golden Lions were coming off a 67-53 loss Saturday at Nebraska in which they couldn’t overcome a similar scoring drought in the second half.
First-year coach George Ivory took nothing positive from his team’s performance against Georgia Tech.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff committed 19 turnovers and hit just 31 percent of 59 shots from the field.
"Not really," he said. "We had way too many turnovers, missed too many open shots. We played good defense for the first 15 or 20 minutes of the game, but we started rushing shots and getting out of sync."
Hewitt was just glad the game ended before he lost another player. The Yellow Jackets’ ninth-year coach took no more chances after Lawal jumped and landed awkwardly on an ankle in the second half.
Lawal left the game and sat on the bench with No. 2 guard Lance Storrs, who replaced Shumpert in the starting lineup before taking a knee to his back in the second half.
Georgia Tech already will play the entire season without senior guard D’Andre Bell (spinal surgery).
Academic difficulty sidelined senior swingman Lewis Clinch, whose earliest return would be Dec. 14 against Illinois-Chicago.
Hewitt hopes Miller can practice on Wednesday and play Friday when Jacksonville visits Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Ideally for the Yellow Jackets, Miller would man the point while raising the offensive tempo similar to Shumpert’s style, which helped his teammates improve their play on defense.
"I think the guys have done a good job of buying in and making sure they’re in the right position defensively," Hewitt said. "I’d like to see us be a little more daring, if you will, to try and create some more turnovers. Since we are not pressing, we are prone to some of those droughts and we need to try and manufacture a little offense. It’s easy to do with turnovers."