ATLANTA (AP) – Evan Cole scored a career-high 16 points, Michael Devoe matched his high with 14, and Georgia Tech pulled away with a 9-0 run that started in the closing minutes of the opening half to beat South Carolina Upstate 79-63 on Wednesday night.
Georgia Tech (8-5) led the full second half in its final warmup for its Atlantic Coast Conference opener against Wake Forest.
Cole, a sophomore forward, missed seven of nine games after spraining his left ankle against Tennessee on Nov. 13. His scoring high came in his most playing time since the injury.
Malik Moore led SC Upstate (5-10) with 18 points. Deion Holmes had 12. The Spartans had won three of four but couldn’t overcome 30.8-percent shooting from the field. SC Upstate made only 7 of 31 (22.6 percent) 3-pointers.
After leading 26-25, Georgia Tech scored the final seven points of the first half for a 33-25 halftime advantage. Curtis Haywood II, who had 10 points, sank a 3-pointer, followed by a steal and a layup, to highlight the closing run.
Devoe opened the second half with two free throws, stretching the streak to 9-0 for a 35-25 lead.
SC Upstate, led by first-year coach Dave Dickerson, answered with eight straight points, including a 3-pointer by Pat Welch, but couldn’t again pull even with Georgia Tech.
After the Yellow Jackets pushed the advantage to 11 points at 53-42, Malik Moore had a steal and an open path to the basket before banging an attempted jam off the back of the rim. Khalid Moore scored at the other end of the court, followed by a quick basket from Brandon Alston to give the Yellow Jackets their biggest lead at 57-42.
Alston had 10 points.
Spartans center Nevin Zink fouled out with 5:28 remaining after scoring six points.
SC Upstate won at Georgia Tech on Dec. 6, 2014 in its only previous game against the Yellow Jackets.
SC Upstate: The Spartans struggled with their shooting from up close and beyond the 3-point line. The visitors fell behind in the first half when they made only 2 of 16 3s and only three of eight free throws. They improved their free-throw shooting in the second half to finish 16 of 26.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets continue to use a deep bench, with nine players logging more than 10 minutes. Another player, Shembari Phillips, played eight minutes. Coach Josh Pastner may shorten his rotation for the ACC schedule. The depth helped the Yellow Jackets win easily despite only four points from James Banks III, who had six rebounds and three blocks. Banks posted double-doubles in four of his previous six games.
SC Upstate: The Spartans begin their first year in the Big South when they visit Presbyterian College in their conference opener on Saturday.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets will play their first two conference games at home. After opening their ACC schedule on Saturday against Wake Forest, the Jackets play host to Virginia Tech on Jan. 9.
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