ATLANTA – The North Carolina A&T men's basketball team put up a good fight but fell 78-71 to the ACC's Georgia Tech at McCamish Pavilion in the Barclays Center Classic, Sunday afternoon.
The loss marked the third straight for the Aggies (1-3) but they aren’t holding their heads down as they continue to put together the pieces of the puzzle. The Aggies (1-3) led at the half and for most of the second half until the Yellow Jackets (3-1) finally took control of the game late.
“We have to take the positives from this game and move on,” head coach Cy Alexander said. “The guys put up a great effort and we have to use each game as a building block so that we can improve.”
A&T placed four players in double figures led by senior Richaud Pack with 19 points. Sophomore Bruce Beckford recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman Khary Doby added a season-high 17 points off the bench and was 6-for-9 from the field while senior Lamont Middleton posted 12.
The Aggies shot 10-for-22 from beyond the arc with Doby leading the way with four.
“It felt good playing against an ACC opponent,” Doby said. “My coaches and teammates really believed in me and I needed a game like this to get my confidence back up. In high school I really didn’t shoot three’s but coach knew that I could shoot so I just had to prove it to him.”
After a 37-33 lead at halftime, A&T took its largest lead, 49-38, with a layup from freshman Denzel Keyes with 13:46 left in the game. Tech found its way back in the game with an 8-0 run barely lasting two minutes to tie game at 52 with 11:50 remaining. Both teams exchanged leads before A&T saw itself down by three. Pack answered by driving to the basket with a layup, drawing a foul and converting the the 3-point play to tie the game at 61 with less than seven minutes to play.
The Aggies regained the advantage, 66-63 with a 3-pointer from senior Jeremy Underwood and a pair of free throws from Middleton at the 5:20 mark. That was the last time A&T led as the Yellow Jackets scored five unanswered points to take the 68-66 edge.
Tech used a 7-1 run to extend its lead to 75-67 with 58 seconds left. But Doby responded to the challenge and with 36 seconds remaining in the game, he hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to five. But there just wasn't enough time left for an Aggies upset.
The Aggies received a lot of production from their bench which outscored Tech 44-20.
“I think we played together as a team and we played hard,” Doby said. “We didn’t back down from our opponent. We just have to make clutch free throws and shots down the stretch.”
A&T will face Ole Miss on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 4 p.m.