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Georgia Tech flops in ACC opener

ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech came into the ACC opener on a six-game winning streak and with a perfect 8-0 record at new McCamish Pavilion.

Then the Yellow Jackets were slapped in the face by the reality of what lies ahead.

Miami may not be Duke, North Carolina or North Carolina State. But the Hurricanes certainly aren't Alabama State, The Citadel or Fordam, either.

Georgia Tech, which had played a mostly creampuff non-conference schedule, was held without a basket for more than eight minutes in the second half and fell to Miami 62-49 in the ACC opener.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed," Yellow Jackets coach Brian Gregory said.

It wasn't even as close as the final score would indicate.

"We've got to forget this game," junior center Daniel Miller said.

How disheartening was it? Just check out this woeful second-half stretch.

The Yellow Jackets (10-3, 0-1) trailed 40-32 after Robert Carter Jr. made a basket with 13:34 left to play. Before fellow freshman Marcus Georges-Hunt got a shot to drop with 5:01 remaining, the Hurricanes (10-3, 1-0) led 60-37 thanks to a 20-5 run.

"This is a tough league," senior point guard Mfon Udofia said. "You have to bring it every game."

The Yellow Jackets didn't in this game.

"We just have to look in the mirror," Gregory said. "We're not quite there yet."

With the ACC going to an 18-game league schedule, Georgia Tech didn't play a couple of tougher warm-up games like it might have in the past.

Obviously, it had an effect.

"We're still not as tested as you'd like to be," Gregory said.

Georgia Tech's first-year trio of Carter, Georges-Hunt and Chris Bolden was a combined 8-of-23 from the floor, but the Yellow Jackets' upperclassmen hardly played much better.

Georgia Tech shot just 32.7 percent, was out-rebounded 40-29 and allowed 28 points in the paint thanks to several defensive breakdowns.

"We played very good defense for 40 minutes," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.

Miami only shot 42.9 percent itself. But a red-hot Rion Brown -- the son of former Georgia Tech standout Tico Brown -- came off the bench to score 22 points. The 6-foot-6 junior from Hinesville broke out of a shooting slump by going 4-for-6 on 3-pointers and 9-for-11 overall from the floor.

"Rion Brown was sensational," Larranaga said. "I know that it was special for Rion to come here in front of his father and family and play so well."

Kenny Kadji was the other difference maker for the Hurricanes. The 6-foot-11 senior had 14 rebounds and 11 points while Miller had seven boards and six points for Georgia Tech.

"We just really haven't faced players big like that all year," the 6-foot-11 Miller said.

"They're big and physical," Larranaga said of the Yellow Jackets. "But so are we and every team in the ACC.

Udofia and Kammeon Holsey were the top scorers for Georgia Tech with 10 points each.

Carter, Georges-Hunt and Bolden combined for 20 points -- six below average. Carter, who joined Georges-Hunt with seven points, battled foul issues and had only four rebounds compared to his team-best 6.6 average.

Carter and Bolden gave Georgia Tech, which made just three of its first 15 shots, a brief spark midway in the first half. North Gwinnett graduate Bolden hit a tying 3-pointer and then Shiloh's Carter had a basket and a 3-pointer of his own for a 7-2 run that put the Yellow Jackets up 17-14.

Miami, however, outscored Georgia Tech 19-6 over the rest of the first half and led 33-23 at halftime. Brown, was 5-for-5 in the first half and led Miami with 11 points, while Kadji had 10 points and six rebounds by intermission.

It doesn't get easier for the Yellow Jackets. They have to play at North Carolina State on Wednesday before returning to McCamish Pavilion for a game against Virginia Tech Saturday. Then come games at Duke and North Carolina.

"We've got a tough stretch ahead," Gregory said.