Georgia Tech forward Marcus Georges-Hunt (3) and forward Robert Carter Jr. (4) celebrate their team's win over Tulane in an NCAA basketball game Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, in Atlanta. Georgia Tech won 79-61. (AP Photo/Rich Addicks)
ATLANTA -- With all of Georgia Tech's starters returning from last season, it looked like the Yellow Jackets' promising group of Gwinnett-dominated freshman might have to bide time early in the season.
Former Shiloh standout Robert Carter and Marcus Georges-Hunt started the season opener at the Yellow Jackets' new McCamish Pavilion and North Gwinnett graduate Chris Bolden was in the game before it was four minutes old.
Bolden hit his first three shots, one a 3-pointer, and it was obvious that the talented freshman are growing up fast.
The trio combined for 35 points, 15 rebounds and five assists as Georgia Tech opened what it hopes is a new era of success under second-year coach Brian Gregory with a 79-61 victory over Tulane on Friday night before a sellout crowd of 8,600.
Georges-Hunt, from North Clayton, was second behind junior Kammeon Holsey's 18 points with 14, Bolden scored 12 and Carter contributed nine. Georges-Hunt, a 6-foot-5 wing, and Carter, a 6-foot-8 power forward, each grabbed seven rebounds, while 6-foot-3 guard Bolden handed out three assists.
"I love my freshmen," Holsey said. "I like where they are already and I know they will continue to get better."
While George-Hunt and Bolden started fast, each going 3-for-4 in the first half, Carter took a while to get the butterflies out.
"Nerves definitely," said Carter, who had seven of his points after intermission. "But it was good to get out there and play my first college game. Once I got my nerves out, it was back to the basics. I started to look for my shot in the second half."
Georgia Tech, trying to bounce back from an 11-20 season, out-rebounded Tulane 47-23 and shot 56.1 percent in the easy victory against a team the Yellow Jackets had lost to in New Orleans last December.
Josh Davis scored a career-high 27 points for the Green Wave on 12 of 15 shooting and Ricky Tarrant added 18 points. But Tulane was never really in the game despite committing just four turnovers -- an all-time low for the Green Wave.
Georgia Tech scored nine consecutive points to go up 20-10 near the midpoint of the first half and Tulane trailed by as many as 13 points before drawing within 39-30 on Davis' basket at the halftime buzzer.
Davis did all he could to keep the Green Wave in the game, scoring 15 points in the first half. He was 6-for-8 from the floor, including a 3-pointer. But Tulane was out-rebounded 24-12 and allowed Georgia Tech 10 offensive rebounds good for 13 second-chance points.
At halftime, more than 125 former Yellow Jacket players were honored as Georgia Tech tried to connect a rich tradition with the promise of success to come.
"This is a celebration of the past, but more important the beginning of a new era," former coach Bobby Cremins said.
Then the Yellow Jackets built their lead to as many as 21 points and the fans left feeling good about what was to come.
McCamish Pavilion replaced Alexander Memorial Coliseum, the Yellow Jackets home for 55 years. The new arena, rebuilt over 18 months at a cost of about $45 million, retained just the old roof and its 32 steel support ribs.
Corey Heyward, the fourth member of the freshman class and third from Gwinnett, will likely be redshirted this season after suffering an ACL tear in his left knee during summer workouts. Heyward, a 6-foot-1 guard, spent one year at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia after starring at Peachtree Ridge.
"We told the freshmen that they're on the start to a long career," Gregory said. "They did a great job and played well."