LAKELAND, FL – Michael Ford had his second strong performance in as many nights, and got big help from Chris Burras and newcomer Jonathan Smith as West
Georgia downed Florida Tech, 87-68, in the Florida Southern Holiday Classic.
One night after scoring 32 points and handing out eight assists, Ford struck for 21 points, nine rebounds and six assists on Friday. The senior guard was
seven-for-16 from the floor and 5-for-10 from 3-point range, giving him a total of 11, 3-point field goals in the tournament.
The Braves (10-2) held a slim six-point lead early in the second half but blew the game open with a 12-2 run that featured 3-pointers by Ford and Smith.
Smith’s trey at the 14:34 mark put West Georgia ahead 58-42. After Florida Tech (3-8) scored on three straight possessions, West Georgia outscored the
Panthers 15-1 over the next five minutes with Ford hitting two more shots from behind the arc.
Ford left the game after West Georgia’s lead had reached 28 with less than eight minutes to play. The margin remained in the mid-20’s until Florida Tech
scored the last six points of the game to provide the final 19-point difference.
With Ford and Smith leading the way, West Georgia ran at nearly every opportunity, often turning missed shots by Florida Tech into quick baskets at the
other end. The Braves scored 28 fast-break points in the game, while the Panthers had only five.
Smith scored 15 points and had six assists in only his second game since joining the Braves over Christmas break. Burras had 17 points and seven rebounds,
with 11 points coming in the first half when West Georgia built a 42-33 lead.
Florida Tech got 17 points, six rebounds and seven assists from E.J. Murray, and 15 points and 10 rebounds from Titas Vainauskas. Damien Clark scored 12
points and Desmond Greene added 10.
Florida Tech will open Sunshine State Conference play in its next game on Wednesday, January 4 at Barry.