ATLANTA - One of the unwritten codes of coaching is never fraternize with the opposition the day of the game.
You can talk a little before the game and shake hands afterward, but otherwise, keep your distance.
That's what made Dean Keener's hour-long visit to Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt's office Wednesday afternoon so "weird."
"I look up at 12:30 and the opposing coach is walking into my office," said Hewitt, who shared office space with Keener the past four years when Keener was a member of his staff. "After an hour, I finally threw him out."
Hewitt's team treated Keener and his new team, the James Madison Dukes, even more rudely several hours later.
Georgia Tech routed the Dukes 72-47 before a crowd of 9,191 fans at Alexander Memorial Coliseum to improve to 7-0.
Isma'il Muhammad scored 14 points to lead four Yellow Jackets in double figures. Jarrett Jack added 13 points while Anthony McHenry and Will Bynum scored 10 each.
Center Luke Schenscher added nine points and 10 rebounds.
Georgia Tech, ranked No. 3 in both major polls, played sloppily despite the final score. Georgia Tech committed 17 turnovers and shot less than 50 percent from the floor for the first time in four games.
The Dukes' deliberate style of play and defensive pressure contributed to the Jackets' struggles. The Jackets had 30 points at halftime, their second lowest first-half total this season.
"Getting out and running is second nature to us," said point guard Jarrett Jack, who equaled a season-high with seven turnovers. "That's really no excuse, though. We've been focusing on our half-court sets. A lot of that was just my fault."
Georgia Tech's defense, though, was faultless as usual. The Jackets forced James Madison (2-4) into 26 turnovers and held it to 31 percent shooting.
The Dukes struggled to bring the ball up court against full-court pressure and managed just 14 points. They committed 12 turnovers and shot 18 percent from the floor before halftime.
Keener seemed slightly more comfortable than his team in the homecoming. He remains close with Hewitt, who he worked with at Southern California in 1990 before Hewitt hired him as an assistant the day he got the Georgia Tech job 10 years later. He also helped recruit all of the Yellow Jacket players,
He even engaged in short conversations with Georgia Tech players during the game. He and Muhammad had a short and playful talk about the officiating at one point.
"I've shared so many things with these guys," Keener said. "The highs from last year. The lows too. It was just emotional."
The game still lacked drama. The Yellow Jackets pulled away in the second half, leading by as many as 27 points.
James Madison played without injured star Daniel Freeman. Ray Barbosa led the Dukes in scoring, finishing 15 points.
Cavell Johnson joined Barbosa in double figures with 11 points.
Reach Adam Van Brimmer at (404) 589-8424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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