UNCG stings Georgia Tech for opening night win
ATLANTA – All-America candidate Kyle Hines led the way with 25 points, but it was Dwayne Johnson and Mikko Koivisto’s clutch shooting late that got UNC Greensboro past Georgia Tech, 83-74, in the opening game of the 2007-08 men’s basketball season for both teams.
Johnson finished with 11 points, all of them from the foul line. He finished the night 11-for-13 from the line, including 5-of-6 in the final 1:26. UNCG was 10-for-12 from the line in the final 86 seconds as a team, erasing the memory of last year’s season-opening loss at Marshall when a nine-point lead disappeared in the 96 seconds with bad foul shooting and turnovers. On the night, UNCG was 22-for-29 from the floor.
Koivisto had 16 points, including three three-pointers. All three treys came at crucial times, starting a Spartan run or ending a Tech threat.
“This is certainly one of the biggest wins in our program’s history,” said Hines afterwards. “It feels great. But we know that we’ll have to work harder every day because we’ll have a bull’s eye on our backs after this one.
“They played me differently in the second half,” said Hines, who scored 18 of his 25 in the first half. “They started doubling me more, but then Mikko and the guys started hitting some shots from the outside,”
Previous marquee wins for the Spartans in their 17-year Division I history would be defeating Arizona State in the Great Alaska Shootout in November 1996 and topping Southern Mississippi four years ago at the Hawkeye Classic in Iowa. It was by far UNCG’s biggest win on an opponent’s floor ever – for a team that won just one road game two seasons ago and snapped a 14-game road losing skid last December at... Gardner-Webb, ironically.
“At halftime, we begged them to rebound better in the second half,” said UNCG coach Mike Dement, who gave the Spartans their first-ever win over an ACC foe in 25 meetings. “We gave up 17 offensive boards in the first half and we only allowed four in the second – and a few of those were really late. We got some great rotations on our defensive end in the second half and that was a big key to us getting some deflections and stopping them on that end of the floor.
“Mikko hit some big shots, Kendall (Toney) hit some shots and Dwayne knocked down his free throws. That was what we really needed.”
Hines’ 25 points extended his nation’s longest double-figure scoring streak to 51 consecutive games. He surpassed the 1,600 point mark for his career, now sitting at 1,616 points – 30 points shy of the school’s career mark held by Jay Joseph. He also had nine rebounds and two blocks, while shooting 10-for-12 from the floor.
Trailing by 14 and having recorded just one basket in the last nine minutes, Georgia Tech made a run coming out of the final media timeout. Matt Causey hit a three-pointer from the left wing and then drew a five-second call on the other end. Gani Lawal followed with a runner and the Yellow Jackets were within nine, 70-61.
Koivisto and Anthony Morrow traded three-pointers and the lead was still nine with 1:50 to play. UNCG turned it over on the ensuing in-bounds. Lawal was fouled by Hines on a drive to the basket. He badly banked home the first one and missed the second, leaving the margin at eight.
Georgia Tech then fouled Dwayne Johnson with 1:26 left. He converted one of two at the line, but Lawal cut it to seven on a dunk with 1:18 left.
Johnson was fouled again with 1:08 to play. This time, he knocked down both to make it a 76-67 game. After a Tech miss, Johnson knocked down two more to take it back to double-figures and the win was within UNCG’s reach.
The Yellow Jackets, who lost a home opener for the first time since 1980, were led by Morrow’s 23 points. Maurice Miller chipped in with 10 points.
Neither team came out very efficient on the offensive end to open the contest. UNCG missed five of its first seven, while Georgia Tech missed 10 of its first 14 over the same span. However, a three-pointer by UNCG’s Kendall Toney from the left wing and three free throws by Johnson after he was fouled on the three-point attempt erased an early 9-4 Yellow Jacket advantage.
Hines started to get loose shortly thereafter and the Spartans hung around. The Sicklerville, NJ native scored nine of UNCG’s next 10 points, including a conventional three-point play to extend his double-figure scoring streak – the 26th time in the 51-game streak that he has scored 10 or more points in the first half. Ben Stywall followed with a three-pointer from the top of the key on the next possession and UNCG had a 23-19 lead.
UNCG still held the lead with just over five minutes to play in the first half, 31-29, when Georgia Tech ran off eight straight points. The spurt was capped off by a breakaway dunk Lawall. But UNCG had an answer with eight straight of its own, capped off by a Hines fall away jumper.
The first half wound up with 17 lead changes and nine ties, but it was Georgia Tech that went into the break with the lead, 43-39.
Tech scored the opening bucket of the second half before the Spartans ran off 12 straight, capped off by Daniel Oliver’s three-pointer, to show that they weren’t going away. In fact, the Spartans did not surrender the lead after that.
The Spartans held the Yellow Jackets to just 13 minutes in the first 15 minutes of the second half to gain a double-digit lead. Back-to-back three-pointers by Koivisto from the left corner gave UNCG its biggest lead to that point, 65-54, with 9:40 to play.
Georgia Tech wound up with a 42-36 advantage on the boards, but UNCG outrebounded the Yellow Jackets 24-15 in the second half.
The Spartans returns to action at the Missouri State Tournament next weekend. UNCG will face UT-Pan American on Friday night at 6:35 pm eastern time (5:35 pm local time).
FREE THROWS: It was a homecoming for UNCG Director of Basketball Operations Tripp Pendergast on Friday. Pendergast’s father, John, is the public address announcer at Alexander Memorial Coliseum and has been for over 15 years... Hines’ streak now includes six games against ACC competition – twice against Duke, twice against NC State, Virginia Tech and now Georgia Tech. It was the 25th time Hines has scored 20 or more during the streak and the 47th time in his 90 career games that he led the Spartans in scoring... Koivisto’s 16 were two shy of a career-high, set last year at Davidson... the last time Georgia Tech lost a home opener was to SoCon member Western Carolina, 88-77, on Nov. 28, 1980. The following year, Bobby Cremmins became head coach.
UNCG 83, GEORGIA TECH 74
Kyle Hines 10-12 5-7 25; Mikko Koivisto 5-10 3-4 16; Dwayne Johnson 0-2 11-13 11; Ben Stywall 3-6 2-3 9; Kendall Toney 3-7 0-0 9; Daniel Oliver 3-4 0-0 7; Davor Galic 1-5 0-0 3; Kevin Oleksiak 1-6 0-0 2; Landon Clement 0-1 1-2 1; Pete Brown 0-0 0-0 0; Darrius Sellers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-53 22-29 83.
GEORGIA TECH (0-1)
Anthony Morrow 8-18 4-5 23; Gani Lawal 5-8 2-3 12; Maurice Miller 2-4 4-5 10; Jeremis Smith 3-9 3-5 9; Lewis Clinch 2-13 0-0 5; Alade Aminu 2-4 1-2 5; D'Andre Bell 2-4 0-0 4; Lance Storrs 1-2 0-0 3; Matt Causey 1-3 0-0 3; Mouhammad Faye 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 26-68 14-20 74.
Halftime: Georgia Tech 43-39. 3-point goals--UNCG 9-25 (Kendall Toney 3-7; Mikko Koivisto 3-6; Davor Galic 1-5; Ben Stywall 1-1; Daniel Oliver 1-1; Landon Clement 0-1; Kevin Oleksiak 0-3; Dwayne Johnson 0-1), Georgia Tech 8-20 (Anthony Morrow 3-6; Maurice Miller 2-3; Matt Causey 1-2; Lance Storrs 1-2; Lewis Clinch 1-6; Mouhammad Faye 0-1). Fouled out--UNCG-None, Georgia Tech-Matt Causey; Jeremis Smith. Rebounds--UNCG 36 (Ben Stywall 10), Georgia Tech 42 (Jeremis Smith 10). Assists--UNCG 19 (Dwayne Johnson 5), Georgia Tech 13 (Jeremis Smith 4). Total fouls--UNCG 20, Georgia Tech 24. Technical fouls--UNCG-None, Georgia Tech-TEAM. Att. - 9191
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