ATLANTA — Georgia Tech's old stars returned to provide a reminder of where the program has been.
The Yellow Jackets' current players, coming off an 11-20 season, took an encouraging first step in their efforts to bring the program back.
Kammeon Holsey, who didn't start due to an ankle injury, scored 18 points and Georgia Tech opened its season by beating Tulane 79-61 on Friday night.
"You saw different things today that are very important in building back a once-proud program," said second-year coach Brian Gregory. "You saw glimpses of what the program should look like and we're going to keep building toward that."
Georgia Tech opened its new McCamish Pavilion, built on the site of the Yellow Jackets' old Alexander-Memorial Coliseum.
More than 140 former players, managers and trainers returned for the game, including Georgia Tech's first All-American, Roger Kaiser, and all-time leading scorer Rich Yunkus. Among other former players recognized at halftime were John Salley, Matt Harpring and 1990 Final Four stars Kenny Anderson and Dennis Scott.
Former coaches Bobby Cremins and Dwayne Morrison joined the players on the court.
"Seeing all those guys was incredible," Gregory said.
"You realize you're in a special place. All we needed to do was make sure we played well, and our guys did exactly that."
Holsey, a junior forward, came off the bench less than 5 minutes into the game and immediately assumed a lead scoring role for Georgia Tech (1-0), which returns all five starters.
Georgia Tech played its first home game since the 2010-11 season. It played last season's home games at two sites while its facility was being rebuilt.
"It was crazy," said senior guard Mfon Udofia. "I almost cried. Just to see those students in the crowd. Just to see the fans. It's been a long time since we had a packed house like this. It was unbelievable."
Josh Davis led Tulane (0-1) with a career-high 27 points. Ricky Tarrant had 18.
The Green Wave took a 57-52 home win over Georgia Tech last season. Tulane coach Ed Conroy said this Georgia Tech team looks bigger and deeper.
"They have more bodies," Conroy said. "They're bigger and stronger. They were a lot more physical and I think it showed in their emphasis on the boards."
Gregory started freshmen forwards Marcus Georges-Hunt, who had 14 points and seven rebounds, and Robert Carter, Jr., who had nine points and seven rebounds. Another freshman, Chris Bolden, made two 3-pointers and had 10 points.
"I thought they responded extremely well," Gregory said. "They've injected a little energy into the program, there's no question about it."
Junior center Daniel Miller had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Yellow Jackets. Miller helped the Yellow Jackets Georgia Tech take a commanding 47-23 advantage in rebounds.
"I thought Tech right from the very first possession, I think they batted it up three or four times and really hit the offensive boards and that really set the pace," Conroy said.
The Yellow Jackets pushed their lead to double figures for the first time, at 20-10, on a jumper by Bolden. Georgia Tech led 39-30 before the Green Wave closed to within five points, at 41-36, on a basket by Davis early in the second half.
Georgia Tech took control with a 19-7 run. Holsey had a three-point play as part of his run of seven straight points during the run.
Davis made 12 of 15 shots for Tulane, but some of his teammates struggled from the field. Jordan Callahan made only 2 of 12 shots for four points. Center Tomas Bruha, who had only four rebounds, made only 2 of 7 shots for 4 points.
Davis easily surpassed his previous high of 23 points against Nicholls State on Nov. 15, 2011. Davis said the loss showed where the Green Wave, who finished 15-16 last season, must improve.
"The rebounding and defense, we have to get back on defense much quicker," Davis said. "We'll get back in the gym and take care of it."
Georgia Tech announced a sellout, listed at 8,600.