The Yellow Jackets held on to beat Wake Forest 79-70 on Saturday after Marcus Georges-Hunt scored a career-high 23 points while making up for the early loss of leading scorer Trae Golden.
“I didn’t have (any) second thoughts about scoring,” Georges-Hunt said. “Coach wanted me to score, and that’s what I did.”
Georgia Tech’s top rebounder, Robert Carter Jr., has been out indefinitely with a knee injury, and coach Brian Gregory said Golden — a 14.6-point scorer — reaggravated a lingering groin injury midway through the first half but hopes to have the former McEachern High School standout back for Tuesday night’s game at Clemson.
Walk-on Ron Wamer — who Gregory says used to practice with MaChelle Joseph’s women’s team before he lured him to the men’s squad — wound up playing five minutes.
“We had some combinations out there that, I’ll be honest with you, I never thought I’d see,” Gregory said.
Daniel Miller added 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets (12-10, 3-6 Atlantic Coast Conference).
They shot 49 percent, used an impressive run that bridged the halves and held off the Demon Deacons’ late surge to avoid their third loss to a North Carolina-based ACC school in a seven-day span. Georgia Tech lost at N.C. State in overtime last Sunday, three days before a home loss to North Carolina.
Travis McKie scored a career-high 26 points for Wake Forest (14-8, 4-5), and his 3-pointer with 3:10 left made it 69-64.
But he missed one two possessions later. Georges-Hunt followed with a layup that made it a seven-point game with 1½ minutes left, Chris Bolden intercepted Devin Thomas’ inbounds pass and Kammeon Holsey hit two free throws to push the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 73-64.
“We could never seem to get any kind of momentum at all,” Wake Forest coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “We always seemed to be one or two plays behind as we tried to battle back. ... We just couldn’t seem to get any traction whatsoever.”
Bolden added 12 points for Georgia Tech. The ACC’s second-worst 3-point-shooting team hit six 3s — all in the first half — against a Wake Forest defense that entered as the league’s second-best at defending the arc.
Codi Miller-McIntyre, who averages 14.6 points, scored all 10 of his points in the first half but didn’t play in the second after turning an ankle while going for a rebound with 4.9 seconds left.
Bzdelik says his key guard is day-to-day. The Demon Deacons play at rival Duke on Tuesday night, starting a stretch of four of five on the road.
Wake Forest — which had its 13-game winning streak at Joel Coliseum ended three nights earlier by No. 2 Syracuse — has lost two in a row at home for the first time in nearly two years.
Holsey finished with 10 points for the Yellow Jackets.
One of the key plays in this one was a 3-pointer that Wake Forest had taken off the board.
Coron Williams appeared to have pulled the Demon Deacons within four points by rattling in a 3 with 14½ minutes left. But the officials conferred and determined that Tyler Cavanaugh pulled the net while the ball was on the rim, disallowing the bucket.
Quinton Stephens followed with a long jumper to put Georgia Tech up by nine. Miller added a hook shot before and Stacey Poole Jr. each hit free throws to help the Yellow Jackets match their largest lead, 58-45, with 12 minutes left.
“They just converted when they needed to,” McKie said. “And we didn’t.”
The Yellow Jackets showed some remarkable efficiency during a 24-8 run that started in the first half and ended in the second. Georgia Tech scored on 12 of 15 possessions and Bolden did much of the damage.
He scored all 12 of his points during the run, and beat the halftime buzzer with a long 3-pointer. That was the Yellow Jackets’ sixth 3 of the half — or, more than they hit in 13 of their previous 21 full games.
“We’re streaky,” Gregory said. “When we shoot well, we’re really good, and you saw stretches of that today — even with the vast array of lineups we had out there.”