ATLANTA — Despite the score, Brian Oliver said Georgia Tech’s big win over Niagara was not easy. Oliver scored 15 of his 17 points in the opening half to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 77-51 rout of outmanned Niagara on Friday night.
Oliver added a basket early in the second half then he, along with the rest of the starters, sat out much of the rest of the game as the Yellow Jackets improved to 3-1. Oliver also had a team-high seven rebounds.
“You never look past anybody. We just came out making shots,” said Oliver.
Tech coach Paul Hewitt credited his swarming defense, good ball movement early and few turnovers.
“I was very pleased with our ball movement in the first half,” he said. “We shot well and only had three turnovers.”
Hewitt’s goal is to have no more than 12 turnovers a game. “We had 11 for the second straight game,” he said.
Mfon Udofia had 13 points, Iman Shumpert had 12 points and seven rebounds and Glen Rice added 10 points and six assists for Tech.
The Yellow Jackets shot the lights out in the opening half, hitting 17 of 31 shots (55 percent), but only connected on 8 of 28 shots (29 percent) in the second half.
“We got a little ragged in the second half,” said Hewitt.
“We did get a little lax in the second half,” said Oliver. “We had the big lead and kinda backed off a bit.”
Antoine Mason led the Purple Eagles (0-2) with 20 points and Kashief Edwards added 14 points. Niagara started three freshmen (Mason, Skylar Jones and Marvin Jordan) and were without senior point guard Anthony Nelson, who has missed both of the Purple Eagles games after getting hit in the face during practice last week.
“We start three freshmen and a fourth that plays a lot,” said Niagara coach Joe Mihalich. “And our best player didn’t play tonight (Nelson). It’s no excuse, but we need him. He is our best player, but he is also our only senior, he is our point guard, and he is our leader.”
Georgia Tech led 48-24 at the half and went on a 16-3 run at the start of the second half for a 37-point lead at 64-27 on a basket by Mo Miller after 5:49 had elapsed.
Oliver made 6 of 9 shots, including 3 of 6 3-pointers, for his 15 first-half points.
The Yellow Jackets’ biggest lead of the opening half was 25 points on three occasions, the last time at 47-22 on a Daniel Miller basket. Udofia had nine points for Georgia Tech in the opening half.