Lawal leads Tech comeback in second half over Georgia

ATLANTA - Howard "Trey" Thompkins and Georgia owned the first half of basketball's version of their rivalry with Georgia Tech.

However, Gani Lawal, Zachery Peacock and the Yellow Jackets owned the second half.

Lawal and Peacock each posted a double-double while fighting foul trouble to help Tech rally from as much as 13 points down and sting the Bulldogs 67-62 before 8,368 fans Tuesday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

"Sorry if I have no voice," joked Lawal as he entered the postgame press conference. "I've been screaming a lot."

A lot of that screaming came after a key offensive rebound and slam of a missed shot by Peacock that gave Tech a 64-60 lead - its biggest lead of the game to that point - with just 19 seconds remaining.

It capped a second half in which the former Norcross standout tallied 10 of his 15 points and eight of his 14 rebounds despite being limited to just 11 minutes due to foul trouble.

Combined with a strong second half by Peacock, who finished with 18 points and 13 boards, it helped the Jackets (9-5) come back after former Wesleyan star Thompkins helped Georgia (9-6) jump out of the gate quickly.

The 6-foot-9, 247-pound freshman scored 13 of his game-high 20 points and pulled down seven of his nine rebounds in the first half as the Bulldogs opened the game on a 9-2 run and led by as many as 13 points before taking a 38-28 lead into intermission.

"Maybe they were nervous," Thompkins said of Tech's post combination of Lawal, Peacock and Alade Aminu. "Everybody was nervous. This is a rivalry game, and you knew it's going to be a battle."

It looked like it would be an uphill battle for the Jackets after Terrance Woodbury's baseline jumper allowed the Bulldogs to match their biggest lead at 45-32 with 16:40 to play.

Lawal tried to bring the Jackets back, scoring four points and pulling down three rebounds during an 8-1 run that cut Georgia's lead to 46-40 after his drive down the lane with 12:43 left.

But the former Blue Devil star picked up his fourth personal foul with 12:31 to play, which sent him to the bench.

But Tech kept fighting in Lawal's absence, led by Peacock, an aggressive trapping defense and a little advice to the Jackets' big men relayed to coach Paul Hewitt by one of the officials.

With Lawal, Peacock, Aminu and Iman Shumpert all saddled with foul trouble, the officials advice seemed a little odd.

"Like every coach, I'm going to ask for a call here and there," Hewitt said. "But one of the officials made a very good point. He said we're not delivering the first blow. They were delivering the first blow down low every time."