ATLANTA - Jim Harrick's job is safe for now.
The second-year coach defeated in-state rival Georgia Tech 75-70 Wednesday night at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Although, a recently fired Georgia football coach also beat the Yellow Jackets in his first two seasons in Athens.
And in this year of looking back on the 1980 season, the Bulldogs finally lived up to that season. For the first time since Herschel Walker was a Bulldog, Georgia won on Georgia Tech's home court. The series was held at the Omni from 1981-94.
"It's big, it's really big to win at Tech on their floor," Georgia guard D.A. Layne said.
And no one came up bigger than Layne. He finished the game with 28 points, but it was the timing of his points more than the quantity of his points. Twice in the second half, Layne hit 3-pointers when Georgia Tech had crawled within one point at 41-40 and at 54-53.
"He shot so well; he hit so many big shots that really sparked us," said Georgia's Shon Coleman, who finished with 14 points and nine rebounds. "He played a phenomenal game tonight. When he's open, we tried to give him the ball every time."
Another one of the great momentum swings was on a Layne pass, as he hit Ezra Williams on an alley-oop pass to give Georgia a 10-point lead with just fewer than four minutes to play.
On the other end of the spectrum was Georgia Tech guard Tony Akins. Akins came into the game averaging 17 points per game and scored 28 in the Yellow Jackets' win over UCLA. Wednesday night the junior was 1-of-12 shooting, including 0-for-7 from behind the arc, for just two points.
"Akins didn't score like he has been scoring," Harrick said. "He was our focus. I don't know if it was us or him, but it helped a lot that he didn't score."
The Yellow Jackets never were able to get a lead in the game. They tied the game three times and only once in the second half.
"Coming off of last year, this team needed to learn to win games, win to learn on the road," Harrick said. "This is a great step up for this basketball team."
The Bulldogs led by as many as 11 points in the first half, leading 17-6 with 10:47 left in the half. The Yellow Jackets fell behind thanks to making just three of its first 13 shots. The Yellow Jackets shot just 30.6 percent in the first half and 34.7 percent for the game.
The Bulldogs were able to stretch the 35-31 halftime lead on Rashad Wright's three-pointer off of the glass as time ran out on the shot clock and 34 seconds left in the half.
The Bulldogs ran into early foul trouble in the second half. Freshman Chris Daniels, making his third consecutive start, picked up his fourth foul with 18:06 left. He then fouled out with 6:17 left in the game.
Robb Dryden picked up his fourth foul with 10:54 left. Dryden had done a good job defensively keeping Georgia Tech's 6-foot-11 center Alvin Jones in check.
Jones, without Dryden to worry about in the second half, became more of a force inside. Jones had no blocks in the first half and four in the second. He finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
The referees became a much larger part of the game play in the second half. Both teams reached the bonus with more than 10 minutes left in the game. Georgia took advantage of their trips to the foul line, going 17 of 24 from the line (70.8 percent). Georgia Tech was 13 of 25 from the free throw line (52 percent).
"This win means a lot to the program coming in to a hostile environment," Coleman said. "Tech's a great team, and ACC school, this will give us confidence heading into the three-straight stretch against ACC schools (against N.C. State Saturday and at Wake Forest next week). We've got to play like we did tonight."
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