ATLANTA (AP) — Abdoulaye Gueye stopped trying to play like a Hall of Famer and then played kind of like one Friday afternoon when he came off the bench to tie a career-high with 16 points with eight rebounds Friday to spark Georgia Tech in an 87-57 blowout win over Kennesaw State.
The Yellow Jackets (7-5) hit eight of their first nine shots for a 19-3 lead, and Gueye, a fifth-year senior center from Dakar, Senegal, made 7 of 7 with three assists and two blocked shots in his most meaningful action in weeks.
Gueye started the first six games of the season before being replaced at center by James Banks III and barely playing the next five. He was a force against the Owls (3-11).
“A.D. can score around the block, but he was trying to be too much (like) one of my favorite players in the history of the game, Akeem Olajuwon, you know with all the shakes,” said Tech head coach Josh Pastner.
“I kept telling him . . . Just keep it simple. You have a beautiful jump hook. Shoot the jump hook, and if the jump hook is guarded, use your up-and-under. You’re actually faking yourself out . . . if he has three, four, five fakes, that’s too much.”
Tyler Hooker went for 17 points for Kennesaw State, which was overwhelmed and outscored 50-14 in the paint, but first the Jackets loosened up the Owls with outside.
When point guard Jose Alvarado made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and Khalid Moore followed with another in Tech’s 14-0 first-half run, it caught KSU off guard.
Tech entered the game making 29.6 percent from beyond the arc, ranking No. 312 in the nation, yet made 5 of 9 on the way to a 49-23 halftime lead. The Jackets shot 60 percent in the first half, when KSU made just 9 of 28 shots and was outrebounded 21-6.
“We did not do a good job recognizing guys on the perimeter, ” Kennesaw State coach Al Skinner said. “In previous games they had some similar looks and didn’t necessarily score the ball.”
Bobby Parker had 14 points for the Owls and Danny Lewis scored all 10 of his points in the second half in addition to passing out six assists.
Tech was far more balanced, as Evan Cole scored 11 points off the bench, and Alvarado, Moses Wright and reserve Brandon Alston added 10 each. Wright, a forward, also had six rebounds and a career-high five assists.
The Jackets never trailed and Gueye gave them their biggest lead at 68-32 on an up-and-under move at the rim off a pass from Alston with 10:28 left in the game.
Kennesaw State found traction in the second half while shooting 53.1 percent, but it was nowhere near enough to catch Georgia Tech as the Jackets scored 28 of 38 points after halftime in the paint.
Gueye didn’t look like a player who saw 35 minutes of action in Tech’s previous five games, combining for four points and eight rebounds.
“I just get in, stay ready. My shot wasn’t falling, and today it was falling,” he said. “I just kept doing what I’ve been doing. Today it was working.”
Kennesaw State: The Owls aren’t a particularly smallish squad, but they were clobbered on the boards with a 33-20 deficit. Lewis had a team-high four rebounds.
Georgia Tech: Pastner has to be happy with the way the Jackets passed the ball, as they banked 29 assists, the most in a game since he was hired as head coach in 2016. Michael Devoe led the way with six dimes, and Wright had a career-high five. “We trust each other so we’re going to keep passing,” said Alvarado, who had a pair of assists. “That’s what we want every game.”
Georgia Tech’s reserves outscored starters 45-42.
Kennesaw State: The Owls will finish non-conference action at Yale on Wednesday, and begin Atlantic Sun play Jan. 5 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Georgia Tech: The Jackets will play host to South Carolina Upstate on Wednesday in their final non-conference game before beginning ACC play Jan. 5 against Wake Forest.