ATLANTA — Kentucky State coach Clarence Moore doesn’t believe Georgia Tech looks like a Final Four team — even if the Yellow Jackets spanked his own team by nearly 50.
“I’ve seen a few games this season, and I don’t see a leader out there,” said Moore, a senior reserve when Georgia Tech advanced to the 2004 national title game. “To me, it looks like guys are trying to find themselves.”
Glen Rice Jr. scored 15 points, D’Andre Bell added 14 and No. 22 Georgia Tech breezed to a 98-50 victory Saturday over Kentucky State. The Yellow Jackets (16-5) have won four of five and improved to 11-1 at home, dipping out of the Atlantic Coast Conference to take on a Division II school from the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Six years ago in an NCAA tournament regional final at St. Louis, Moore had 14 points and five steals to help Georgia Tech beat Kansas in overtime and advance to the Final Four.
Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt may have his most talented team since then, but it starts only one senior in Bell. Derrick Favors and Mfon Udofia are freshmen, Iman Shumpert is a sophomore and Gani Lawal a junior.
Moore thinks the team needs to find a coach on the floor.
“You have to have a vocal leader and someone who is willing to get on guys and know that he’s going to catch it at some point as well,” Moore said. “I would love to say that I was that guy and maybe some people would have said it.”
Kentucky State hung with Georgia Tech until Troy Johnson cut the lead to 17-15 with a 3-pointer. The Yellow Jackets responded with a 48-14 charge that ended on Shumpert’s dunk with 18:12 remaining.
Hewitt, who pulled his starters a few minutes later, agreed with Moore’s assessment.
“Absolutely, that 2004 team collectively understood,” Hewitt said. “You had Jarrett (Jack), who understood what it meant to play every possession like it was an important possession. This team doesn’t understand that yet, and it’s something we’ve talked about.”
Jarrod Gay had 16 points to lead the Thorobreds (4-13), who hit just 28.3 percent from the field. Tony Johnson added eight for Kentucky State while shooting 2 for 11.
Lawal and Lance Storrs each finished with 11 points for Georgia Tech, which outscored the Thorobreds 33-9 on the fastbreak and 24-9 off turnovers. Kentucky State committed 21.
The Yellow Jackers were coming off a 79-58 home win earlier this week over Wake Forest, and will take a big jump back up in competition when they travel to No. 8 Duke on Thursday.
Lawal was pleased to get some rest and let the reserves play.
“It was good in preparation for (Duke),” Lawal said. “They did a good job.”
Rice, a reserve guard, was 6 for 6 from the field, including three 3-pointers. Lawal, a junior forward who’s considered a potential late first-round NBA draft pick, became the 16th Georgia Tech player to score 1,000 points.
Shumpert finished with eight points for Georgia Tech. The starting guard missed six games to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, but he’s averaged 11.6 since returning.
Reserve center Brad Sheehan pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets.