ATLANTA (AP) — Michael Devoe scored 14 points off the bench as Georgia Tech rolled to a 72-44 win over Texas Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday night in a game that saw the visiting Vaqueros miss their final 19 shots of the first half.
Jose Alvarado added 13 points, also coming off the bench, and Tech (3-1) had no problems turning back UTRGV.
Lesley Varner II paced the Vaqueros (3-3) with 11 points and seven rebounds, but like most of his teammates he had problems scoring. He made 2 of 10 shots.
The game was all but decided as Tech raced to a 42-11 halftime lead while making 14 of 26 from the field, including 5 of 10 3-pointers.
The Vaqueros went scoreless from the field over the final 16:32 of the first half after Terry Winn scored a layup to pull UTRGV within 7-5.
UTRGV’s 11 points was the fewest allowed by Tech in an opening half in the modern era, since 1949, and the second-fewest in any half in that time (eight by University of the South in 1980).
“That’s Georgia Tech basketball, playing defense like that,” said sophomore guard Curtis Haywood II, who led the Jackets with four steals, all in the first half. “When we’re playing like that, it’s going to be a long game for the other team.”
The visitors made just 2 of 24 shots in the first half, and the closest the Vaqueros came to scoring a field goal during their dry spell came when Jordan Jackson went for a dunk with nine seconds remaining, but Tech’s Moses Wright blocked it.
James Banks III added three blocks for the Yellow Jackets and Devoe and Abdoulaye Gueye pitched in three steals each.
Tech scored 19 points off UTRGV’s 12 turnovers in the first half.
“They came out and confused our guys with the zone and changing defenses on us,” said UTRGV head coach Lew Hill. “Their length bothered us. That’s the difference between ACC teams and the (Western Athletic Conference) teams.”
Other than Winn’s layup, the Vaqueros’ only points from the field before halftime came on a 3-pointer by Varner.
The game was far more competitive in the second half, when UTRGV outscored Tech 33-30, but the Vaqueros never cut the margin closer than 24 points even though the Jackets made just 1 of 11 3-pointers.
“We didn’t have the same energy in the second half … ” said Tech head coach Josh Pastner. “We had some open looks, feet set. Guys just got to stick it.”
Alvarado came off the bench for the first time in his career. Brandon Alston started in place of the sophomore point guard because of “an internal matter, a one-game deal,” Pastner said. . . . Tech sophomore Moses Wright had 11 points and four rebounds in his second straight start at forward for Evan Cole, who is out with a sprained ankle.
UT-Rio Grande Valley: The Vaqueros shot the ball better in the second half, making 10 of 29 from the field, but they can’t take much from this game. They even struggled from the free-throw line, making just 16 of 33 overall.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are playing impressive defense. They entered the game holding opponents to an average of 17.3 points below their respective scoring averages, and they bettered that Wednesday as the Vaqueros finished 30 points beneath their 74.4-point trend.
UT-Rio Grande Valley: The Vaqueros will be at home Friday night against Lamar.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets will play host to Prairie View A&M Friday afternoon.