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Panthers Pummeled at Georgia Tech

Donny Rieber Jr | Sports Lowdown Valur Valsson – Photo: Sports Lowdown

Florida Tech head basketball coach Billy Mims has said for a long time that the Sunshine State Conference, where his Panthers reside, is the ACC of Division II. On Saturday, his team got a taste of what the ACC of Division I is like, dropping a lopsided exhibition game to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 87-36. 

“Obviously, we shot the ball really poorly,” said Mims in his postgame interview with Panthers play-by-play guy Jim Mitchell. “We had a lead there early, but we’ve got a whole new team really. We lost two of the league’s leading scorers in Jordan Majors and Sam Daniel, we lost Pat Anderson and Mike Milligan.” 

“We averaged 82 points a game last year, but the team we have this year only averaged 16, 17 points a game last year between them,” he continued. R.J. (Coil) and Val (Valsson) are the two leading scorers back from last year.” 

Derek Murphy, who missed all of last season because of injury came back in a big way, scoring 17 of the Panthers points, while pulling down nine rebounds. 

“We had a great performance out of Murph tonight,” Mims said. He added that R.J. Coil was really sick with the flu but really wanted to play in this game. That had to play a large part in the big man getting just one point on the night.

Things started well for the Panthers, who led a couple times early, with Murphy hitting an early three to make it 3-2. After Antonis Pefanis made a three to bring the Panthers to within 7-6, Murphy hit another three to give the Panthers a 9-7 lead.

The Panthers went down 12-9, but a layup by Mekhii Noble and a free-throw by Murphy tied it at 12. Murphy would give the Panthers a 14-12 lead with 8:29 to go in the first half, then the wheels fell off.

Georgia Tech would go on a 15-0 run and take a 27-14 lead. A Pefanis layup stopped the bleeding momentarily, with 3:31 left in the half.

Georgia Tech would score nine of the final 11 first half points and lead Florida Tech 36-17 at the break. 

Things didn’t get much better in the second half, with the Yellow Jackets going on a 12-0 run to start. Murphy broke that run with two free-throws and Georgia Tech then proceeded to rip off another nine straight points, leading 57-21 with 11:46 tio go in the game. 

Georgia Tech led by as many as 54 with 28 secinds left, but a three by Darius Wright cut it to the final margin of 51. 

Georgia Tech had three players in double figures, led by Evan Cole’s 16. 
Jose Alvarado had 12, and Kristian Sjolund added 10.

Florida Tech went 13-for-51 from the field, while Georgia Tech was 34-of-78. The Panthers were their own worst enemy with 26 turnovers. That’s a high number, but not surprising given the caliber of opponent. Georgia Tech made those turnovers hurt, scoring 33 points as a result of the Panthers miscues.

The Panthers finished the night 5-for-26 from behind the arc and 5-for-15 from the charity stripe. Those are the things that really killed Florida Tech’s chances. 

“If you’re gonna turn the ball over, we turned it over way too much, you can’t make open three’s, you can’t make free-throws, and you get outrebounded (57-33), it’s pretty hard to win against an ACC opponent,” said Mims. “Those are the four areas that we just have to do a better job in.

For more info: Florida Tech @ Georgia Tech Box Score 

The Panthers will wrap up their preaseason with another Division I opponent on Wednesday, in Florida Atlantic. That game is scheduled to tip off at 7:00 p.m. in Boca Raton.