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Recruits will join Tech basketball team in need of a spark

Georgia Tech's Jason Morris (14) shoots as Miami's Durand Scott, left, and DeQuan Jones defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 8, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Georgia Tech's Jason Morris (14) shoots as Miami's Durand Scott, left, and DeQuan Jones defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference men's tournament Thursday, March 8, 2012, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA -- Just when you thought Georgia Tech's men's basketball team couldn't get any worse offensively, the Yellow Jackets continued to outdo themselves.

First-year coach Brian Gregory's team managed just 38 points against Virginia in January and then slipped to 37 against Clemson in February. But the lowlight came in the first round of the ACC Tournament and it was a late-night horror show Thursday at Philips Arena.

Ahead 20-19 at halftime and 27-24 with about 13 minutes left thanks to their defense, the Yellow Jackets were outscored by Miami 18-0 over the next five minutes and lost 54-36 to complete an 11-20 season.

It was the lowest point total in an ACC Tournament game since college basketball joined the shot-clock era in the mid-1980s and Tech's worst since a 38-36 loss to Auburn on Feb. 7, 1961.

For those counting, that was 51 years ago.

Gregory has shown that he can get an under-talented team to play hard defensively. But Georgia Tech just didn't have enough offensive weapons this season, especially after leading-scorer Glen Rice Jr. was given the boot.

"It's hard to keep digging in on the defensive end when you struggle to make any baskets," Gregory said. "When you're not scoring, all it takes are two or three possessions ... Those (opposing) points count triple."

If the Yellow Jackets are to improve as much as needed offensively next season, a big contribution will have to come from a well-regarded recruiting class that includes two players from Gwinnett County.

Shiloh's 6-foot-9 Robert Carter and North Gwinnett guard Chris Bolden have shown that they can put the ball in the basket. The biggest lift, though, may come from North Clayton's Marcus Hunt.

Hunt, a 6-5 wing, scored 40 points in North Clayton's loss to Southwest DeKalb in the Class AAAA semifinals and put up wild numbers for the Eagles this season. After averaging 26 points as a junior, he was near 30 as a senior and had 34 points and 31 rebounds in the state quarterfinals.

High school stardom often doesn't translate into instant college success. But the addition of Hunt, Carter and Bolden and Kentucky transfer Stacey Poole to the players who bought into Gregory's system gives Yellow Jackets fans hope for next season, when Tech's rebuilt arena opens after a year of splitting home games between Philips Arena and Gwinnett.

Things can only get better. The cupboard was left bare when the Paul Hewitt era came to and end and this was Tech's most losses in a season since the Yellow Jackets went 4-23 in 1980-81 during Dwane Morrison's final year before Bobby Cremins' arrival.

"We have some flaws," Gregory said in stating the obvious after the Miami loss. "But the effort was not flawed, especially not over the last month."

That was shown on defense. Daniel Miller blocked five shots against the Hurricanes and Miami was held to 33.3 percent shooting and just 3-for-18 from behind the 3-point arc.

"Our defense is only going to get better and Daniel gives us an anchor," said Gregory, who thought Miller should have been on the All-ACC defensive team.

Point guard Mfon Udofia, who led Tech with 13 points against Miami, called Gregory's first year "a great rebuilding season."

Fans would likely disagree with that, but the positive signs were there despite the lack of points and wins.

"I felt we found out who we were," Udofia said. "We found our identity as Georgia Tech basketball."