ATLANTA -- Freshmen Derrick Favors and Mfon Udofia each scored 16 points, and Georgia Tech withstood a scare for the second straight year from Mercer in an 85-74 win on Saturday.
Gani Lawal finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets (4-1), who have won three straight.James Florence scored a career-high 40 points for the Bears (3-3), who have dropped two straight.Georgia Tech struggled with Mercer last season in Macon, Ga., before forcing overtime and escaping with an 82-76 win.The Bears, despite losing by 39 to Florida State last weekend, were nearly as much trouble again for the Jackets, cutting the lead to two when E.J. Kusnyer hit a 3 early in the second half.But the Yellow Jackets went on a 25-11 run that took nearly 10 minutes and ended with freshman Brian Oliver's 3-pointer from the right wing and a 73-57 lead with 7:59 remaining.Florence's previous career high was 39 in 2007 against Jacksonville. The senior guard, who was 14 for 20 from the field, is 113 points from becoming Mercer's career-leading scorer behind Sam Mitchell.Udofia and Oliver combined to score 18 points during Tech's 25-11 run.Favors scored seven points in the second half, going 5 for 6 on free throws, but his presence was felt most on defense. The 6-foot-10, 246-pound Atlanta native, arguably coach Paul Hewitt's most highly regarded signee since Chris Bosh, blocked three of his four shots in the second half.With Favors standing in his way, Mercer forward Daniel Emerson had two shots blocked in the second half and missed two other inside attempts. Emerson finished with 12 rebounds, but he was just 3 for 14 from the field.The Bears play their Atlantic Sun Conference opener next Wednesday against Lipscomb.Georgia Tech, which won its last two games last week to finish fifth in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, hosts Siena on Tuesday before Southern Cal visits Alexander Memorial Coliseum next weekend.The Jackets, who trying to overcome two consecutive losing seasons and three in its last four, improved to 27-16 against Mercer with its eighth straight win in the series.