No. 23 Miami loses to struggling Georgia Tech, 70-50
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Jim Larranga has been coaching for 31 years, and he says he has never dealt with such an inconsistent team as this season’s Miami Hurricanes.
The No. 23-ranked Hurricanes flopped Wednesday night, enduring a blowout loss at home against struggling Georgia Tech, 70-50.
“This team probably has the widest range of performance I’ve ever seen,” Larranaga said. “They can be absolutely great one night, and you just don’t recognize them the next day.”
Miami (14-6, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost at home while ranked for the third time this season, with each defeat coming against an unranked team. Georgia Tech (10-10, 1-7 ACC) was off to its worst start in the league since 2002, and won for the first time since Dec. 30.
“Our focus was not there; the effort was not there,” Larranaga said. “Very, very disappointing.”
The Hurricanes returned this week to the Top 25 after a five-week absence, but their latest stay likely won’t last long. Their top two scorers this season — Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez — combined for only six points.
Miami has won on the road against Duke, Florida and Syracuse, but its home record is only 7-4.
“When we come home, I feel like we’re always relaxed,” center Tonye Jekiri said. “We let other teams come here and play their best.”
Tech did that. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 24 points, and the Yellow Jackets shot a season-high 57 percent, well above their season average of 41 percent. They scored 34 points in the paint, thanks in part to some lackadaisical Miami defense.
Jekiri had 13 points and nine rebounds, but Miami’s guards struggled. With the offense out of sorts, the Hurricanes resorted to a flurry of outside shots and went 6 for 26 from 3-point range.
Six of the Yellow Jackets’ losses in the league have been by less than eight points, but this time they were in control from the start. Tech made seven consecutive shots to lead 15-4, and Miami was never closer than six points after that.
“It was all smiles,” Georges-Hunt said. “Every time we huddled up, it was something positive. It just felt like we were having a lot of fun out there.”
Georges-Hunt had shot only 12 for 37 in the previous four games, but he went 10 for 12 while adding six rebounds and three assists.
Chris Bolden, making only his sixth start this season, added 13 points. Demarco Cox totaled 10 points and seven rebounds.
“We are competitive now with just about everybody,” coach Brian Gregory said. “Now you’ve got to go from competitive to being able to finish the job. You hope this starts some good momentum going.”
Six Yellow Jackets scored in the first eight minutes to help them build a 20-6 advantage. They were up 34-26 at halftime.
Georgia Tech scored on four consecutive possessions early in the second half to increase its lead to 41-28.
The small crowd of 5,031 didn’t help the Hurricanes, Larranaga said.
“Kids tend to respond to the energy in the building,” he said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of energy tonight. But you can’t rely on the fans to motivate you.”
Miami: Rodriguez went scoreless, shot 0 for 8 and spent the final 15 minutes.
Georgia Tech: Forward Robert Samson left the game midway through the second half when he aggravated a hip pointer. He did not return, but the injury wasn’t believed to be serious.
Georgia Tech plays host to North Carolina State on Saturday.
Miami plays at Florida State on Sunday.