Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory gave his team fair warning that his former team would be a tough matchup. He was proven more prophetic than he might have wanted.
Energetic, unselfish and sharp, Dayton gave its former coach an 82-72 loss Wednesday night at McCamish Pavilion.
“They’re a good team,” center Daniel Miller said. “They really defended us and pressured us, and we’re going to see a lot of that but with bigger and more talented teams.”
Given his ties, Gregory was not particularly eager to face the Flyers, whom he coached for eight seasons before his hire at Tech in March 2011, and not only because they were 19-9 against BCS conference teams in the past six seasons, including a Gregory-led victory over Tech in 2009. But that was reason enough.
Dayton (4-0) took the lead with four minutes to play in the first half and never relinquished it. Tech (3-1) was complicit, turning the ball over 19 times, which the Flyers cashed in for 33 points. Gregory holds reasonable hope that this team will handle the ball better this season than his first two Tech teams, but the Yellow Jackets were unusually careless with the ball. Of the 19 turnovers, 17 were Dayton steals, as the Flyers jumped on loose balls and stepped into passing lanes.
“I thought our inability to feed the post and get the ball inside and reverse the ball, and some of our impatience really put us in very difficult situations on the offensive end,” Gregory said.
Guard Trae Golden had six turnovers, tying his career high.
Said Gregory, “I’ll be honest. He didn’t play very well tonight.”
Golden, who had been Tech’s most dependable player in the first three games, finished with 13 points, making nine of 10 from the line, but otherwise did not contribute much.
“I just think I got out of character, tried to make a few plays,” Golden said. “I know better. … It’s something that definitely won’t happen again. Just being a senior and a leader on the team, it’s something I can’t do.”
Fresh off a third consecutive win over Georgia, the Jackets shot a respectable 45.3 perent from the field and led by nine midway through the first half, but often looked out of sync afterward. Because of the turnovers, Dayton had taken 57 shots to Tech’s 45 before the Jackets took the final eight shots of the game in the final 1:22.
With Tech down 47-38 with just under 16 minutes remaining, Tech guard Solomon Poole pounced on a ball for a steal, but threw wildly ahead for the Jackets’ 15th turnover in the game’s first 25 minutes. Gregory immediately sent in guard Chris Bolden, playing in his first game after a three-game suspension to open the season, to check in.
Poole committed a foul on the ensuing Dayton possession, which led to a 3-point shot by guard Vee Sanford and a 50-38 lead with 15:15 to play. The Flyers seemed to answer every basket for the next five minutes, holding a 58-48 lead with 10:29 to go.
The Jackets closed to six points twice, the latter at 60-54 with 7:28 to play. However, Dayton ran away with an 8-2 run that started to close the books. The run started with another Sanford 3-pointer. At the other end, point guard Travis Jorgenson drove the baseline but was denied and did not get up as the play went to the other end, where the Flyers made another 3-pointer as Jorgenson lay on the floor clutching his right knee.
He stayed on the bench for the remainder of the game, but did not return. Gregory said that Jorgenson will have an MRI exam performed Thursdsay.
A strong game by Miller (20 points on nine shots, with seven rebounds, three blocks and three steals) went for naught.
Said Gregory, “I think if he could play like that every night, we’d be all set.”