Early run spurs Georgia Tech to 69-54 win over Pittsburgh

Georgia Tech guard Josh Okogie (5) drives to the basket past Pittsburgh guard Parker Stewart (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Starting out a basketball game with a 20-point lead is a good way to win and an easy way to lose.

Georgia Tech opened with 13 unanswered points and went on a 21-1 run against Pittsburgh to win 69-54 on Saturday afternoon.

After the initial 13-point onslaught, Pitt made one free throw, but the Yellow Jackets went right back to scoring, extending their lead to 21-1 before the Panthers made a field goal. ?

A 20-0 start to a game is rare for any team, but for a Georgia Tech squad plagued by inconsistency, it was an especially rare outcome.

“Normally, we don’t do that,” center Ben Lammers said. “We have gotten better at starting, but we’ve never had a start like that. It was nice to have that 20-point cushion and be on the winning side of that.”

After a 14-2 Pitt run in the middle of the first half closed the gap, the Yellow Jackets again came out strong after halftime. Abdoulaye Gueye made two baskets as part of a 9-2 run and finished with a career-high 16 points and eight rebounds.

“We have finally gotten to start to practice and get our team together, so we have gotten better post-Christmas,” head coach Josh Pastner said. “We have improved in the start of both the game and the second half. . Our next stage is, are we able, when we have someone down, can we keep them down?”

Lammers scored 11 points with 16 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. Georgia Tech (10-7, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) dominated on the inside, outrebounding the Panthers 39-20 and outscoring them in the paint 40-16.

Pitt (8-10, 0-4) got within 10 points in the second half, but after Shamiel Stevenson missed a layup, Georgia Tech rattled off 13 straight points.

“I don’t know what it was, but we spent the rest of the day trying to claw back and make a game from it,” Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings said of his team’s slow start. “It’s my responsibility to have them ready to play from the start and we weren’t ready to go.”

Stevenson and Jared Wilson-Frame each scored nine points for the Panthers.