Photo: Craig Cappy Georgia Tech's Kammeon Holsey (24) shots the ball over Florida A&M's Yannick Crowder (42) during Friday's season opener played at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
Photo: Craig Cappy Georgia Tech's new basketball coach Brian Gregory addresses the players on the bench during Friday's season opener played at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
Photo: Craig Cappy Georgia Tech's Mo Bennett (2) picks up an offensive rebound with Alabama State's Millicent Jones (45) defending during Friday's season opener played at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
DULUTH -- Like the construction of Georgia Tech's new campus arena, the Yellow Jackets remain a work in progress.
The debut of Brian Gregory as coach in Georgia Tech's first game in the Arena at Gwinnett Center was very much a success Friday night, though.
Brandon Reed, a sophomore transfer from Arkansas State missed just two shots while scoring a team-high 16 points and the Yellow Jackets never trailed in beating Florida A&M 92-59. Mfon Udofia had 15 points for Georgia Tech, Daniel Miller scored 12 and freshman Julian Royal added 10.
The attendance was just 2,590, with few students making the 20-mile trip from the Georgia Tech camp in downtown Atlanta. But the pep band and dance team enhanced the atmosphere and the crowd gave both Gregory, who replaced Paul Hewitt after last season, and his young squad a warm reception.
The Yellow Jackets won despite being without Glen Rice Jr., their leading returning scorer from last season. It was announced just before the opener that the junior, who averaged 12.8 points last season, had been suspended for three games by Gregory for a violation of team rules.
In his absence, Reed and Udofia heated up from the outside and Miller -- one of two returning starters -- did yeoman's work inside until the game was broken wide open. Reed and Udofia, a junior, combined to go 5-for-8 on 3-points and Miller tied for the team lead with seven rebounds.
Rice will also miss Monday's game in Gwinnett against Delaware State, as well as the opener of the Charleston Classic against Saint Joseph's on Nov. 17 in South Carolina.
Gregory's team is playing five games in Gwinnett while the Yellow Jackets' new McCamish Pavilion on campus is being completed. In addition to Florida A&M and Delaware State, Georgia Tech will play Siena on Nov. 23, Alabama A&M on Dec. 19 and Mercer on Dec. 22.
The eight home ACC contests, as well as non-conference games against Northwestern and Alabama, will be played at Philips Arena.
Once up 25-12, the Yellow Jackets saw Florida A&M close to within five points. But Georgia Tech hit four 3-pointers -- two each by Udofia and Nick Foreman -- while closing the half on a 16-5 run and led 43-29 at intermission.
The lead grew to 57-34 less than five minutes into the second half on back-to-back 3-pointers by Reed and the lead passed 30 points and kept going.
Royal, a freshman from nearby from Milton, hit a 3-pointer on his first college shot and the Yellow Jackets finished 10-for-23 from behind the arc. Royal had six rebounds -- one behind Miller, Kammeon Holsey and Nate Hicks -- as Georgia Tech dominated the boards 46-21.
Hewitt led Georgia Tech to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament in 2004, but he was fired after the Yellow Jackets went 13-18 in his 11th season. Gregory was brought in from Dayton after posting a 172-94 record in eight years with the Flyers.
Florida A&M was also playing its first game under a new coach, Clemon Johnson. The Rattlers are 0-22 all-time against ACC teams.
Georgia Tech women 97, Alabama State 37
The Georgia Tech women were 95-27 under coach MaChelle Joseph at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, including a 14-3 record last season. Now the Yellow Jackets have to establish a home-court advantage away from their campus home.
So far, so good.
Georgia Tech built a 20-point lead before the opener was 10 minutes old, was up 46-15 at halftime and crushed Alabama State 97-37. Unlike the men, the women will play all except one of their games in the Arena at Gwinnett Center this season.
The Yellow Jackets will have a much tougher opponent on Sunday, when Old Dominion visits for a 2 p.m. game. But they already seem at home in Gwinnett despite the commute.
Georgia Tech is picked to finish fifth in the ACC this season. The Yellow Jackets won a school-record 24 games a year ago and made the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season.
All 13 players scored in the opener, with freshman Sydney Wallace of Northview High School in nearby Johns Creek scoring 13 points to share the lead with sophomore Dawn Maye.
Alabama State committed 19 turnovers against the Georgia Tech press in the first half and made just 3 of 22 shots. The Hornets shot just 15 percent for the game and finished with 32 turnovers.
Georgia Tech shot 47.8 percent despite making only 2 of 15 attempts from behind the 3-point arc.