THE FLATS - D’Marcus Simonds scored 30 points to lead three players in double figures Saturday as Georgia State defeated Georgia Tech, 65-58, in an exhibition game at McCamish Pavilion played to raise money for ongoing hurricane relief efforts.
In the teams’ first meeting since 2008, the Panthers led nearly the entire game, building advantages of 12 points twice in the second half before settling for the seven-point win. After Tech scored the first bucket of the second half to cut its halftime deficit to 36-33, Georgia State reeled off eight straight points to lead by 11, and the Jackets could get no close than 51-44 with 5:45 to go.
Simonds, a sophomore guard who was the Sun Belt Conference freshman of the year in 2017, hit 11 of 19 shots from the floor, while junior forward Malik Benlevi added 13 points and junior forward Jeff Thomas chipped in with 12.
Ben Lammers and Tadric Jackson each scored 14 points for the Yellow Jackets, who struggled from three-point range throughout the game (3-for-25) and were outrebounded, 39-35. Lammers, a pre-season All-Atlantic Coast Conference choice and last year’s ACC Defensive Player of the Year, grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
The Panthers were more effective from behind the arc, hitting 8-of-27 while shooting 39 percent overall in the game. Tech shot just 30.8 percent but assisted on 11 of its 16 made field goals and hit 23-of-28 from the free throw line.
“That is why we need to keep playing games,” said head coach Josh Pastner, the reigning ACC Coach of the Year beginning his second year with the Yellow Jackets. “We’ve got to keep getting better. We’ve still got a long way to go. These games are really good for us, because we are relying on a lot of young guys and this is all new for them. I’ve said it prior to this game, I’ve told many people, it was going to be hard for us to beat Georgia State because we weren’t ready to play against them in a lot of different areas, but that’s why we needed the game. You’ve got to give Georgia State credit.
“Secondly, when you’re counting on young guys, this is part of it. It’s part of us growing, but that’s why you have these games in the preseason and the exhibition that don’t count against your record. We can get exposed on some things we need to get exposed on and continue to get better.”
Pastner played all four of his freshmen and started three of them, as well as graduate transfer Brandon Alston, and experimented with lineup combinations throughout the game. The Jackets also lost two players to injury in the game, sophomore guard Josh Okogie to a dislocated finger and Alston to a sprained knee.
UP NEXT: Saturday’s game was the first of two exhibition games for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets host NAIA member Faulkner Thursday, Nov. 2, at McCamish Pavilion, before traveling to Shanghai, China to open the regular season Nov. 10 against UCLA.