Alvarado rallies Georgia Tech past Prairie View A&M 65-54
ATLANTA (AP) — Jose Alvarado scored all 15 of his points in the second half — when Brandon Alston scored 13 of his 14 — and Georgia Tech rallied past Prairie View A&M 65-54 Friday night, avoiding a home upset loss to a SWAC opponent for the second season in a row.
Both saw the Yellow Jackets’ slow start coming in McCamish Pavilion long before they were able to do something about it.
The Yellow Jackets (4-1) trailed 41-33 early in the second half before Alvarado scored nine consecutive points to give Tech its first lead of the game with 11:56 left.
Guard Gary Blackston led Prairie View A&M (1-6) with 19 points and nine rebounds and forward Devonte Patterson pitched in 16 points as the Panthers dominated much of the first half.
“You could tell the energy between shoot around and before the game wasn’t where it needed to be,” Alston said. “Me and Jose, we huddled up twice in warmups because you could just tell the focus wasn’t there.”
Alvarado switched on the energy when the frenetic sophomore point guard took a defensive rebound, dribbled the length of the floor and laid in a basket between multiple Panthers to push Tech ahead 42-41.
“It was getting too close for us,” said Alvarado, who added game highs of six assists and four steals. ”(Alston) told us, he told me, ‘You need to step up.’”
Nearly one year ago, Tech fell behind Grambling State of the SWAC by 16 points and rallied to take the lead only to fall 64-63 when two Jackets inadvertently tipped a ball into the goal with six seconds remaining.
The Panthers weren’t close enough by the end of the game to pull off an upset even though their energy level never seemed to drop.
“We kind of got sloppy a little bit late in the game,” Prairie View A&M coach Byron Smith said.
Tech found its range, making 4 of 9 3-pointers after intermission after missing all eight tries from beyond the arc in the first half. Alston made two on the way to his third double-digit scoring outing off the bench through five games.
“I’ve said it: we’re kind of going to live by our 3-point shooting and we’re going to live by our defense,” Tech coach Josh Pastner said. “If one of those two fails us, it’s going to be hard for us.
“Now, tonight our shooting wasn’t good and it almost failed on us, but we were able to win the game out through defense and we made a couple 3s in the second half.”
Tech missed 16 of 20 shots to open the game and Prairie View A&M took a 24-14 lead on two free throws by Taishaun Johnson with 4:11 left in the first half.
From there, the Jackets went inside, and scored at near point-blank range on four consecutive possessions —by James Bank III, Moses Wright, Michael Devoe and Curtis Haywood II — and closed to within 27-26 by halftime.
The Panthers started quickly in the second half, too, but Georgia Tech shot 56 percent to pull away.
Prairie View A&M: The undersized Panthers more than held their own on the boards, where they were outrebounded just 31-29, but ultimately they were undone in the paint where Georgia Tech outscored them 20-8 in the second half to open space for Tech’s outside shots.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets continue to play stout defense, as they’ve held all five opponents under 40 percent shooting, but they aren’t likely to get much done in the ACC if they play offensively like they did Friday, when they were especially indecisive in the first half.
Prairie View A&M: The Panthers will next play Dec. 1 at Murray State to continue a streak of 12 road games to open the season before their first home game Jan. 2 against Huston-Tillotson.
Georgia Tech: Will go on the road for the second time this season to play Northwestern Wednesday night in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.