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Northwestern knocks off Ga. Tech in Big Ten, ACC Challenge

Georgia Tech forward Kammeon Holsey has the ball knocked loose by Northwestern forward John Shurna during Tuesday’s game, which Northwestern won, 76-60.

Georgia Tech forward Kammeon Holsey has the ball knocked loose by Northwestern forward John Shurna during Tuesday’s game, which Northwestern won, 76-60.

ATLANTA — John Shurna did it to Georgia Tech again.

Shurna, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, had 25 points to lead Northwestern past Georgia Tech 76-60 on Tuesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Shurna, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, made three 3-pointers and had a team-high eight rebounds as Northwestern (6-0) remained unbeaten. He had the first six points of each half.

Georgia Tech already knew about Shurna’s scoring exploits. He had 21 points as Northwestern beat Georgia Tech 91-71 in last year’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge in Evanston, Ill.

“If you give him space, he was far more aggressive,” said Georgia Tech’s Jason Morris of Shurna.

Georgia Tech’s 17 turnovers led to 16 points for Northwestern.

The Wildcats had 11 steals, including three by Shurna, who said defense was the key to the win.

“I think what’s real important in these neutral environment games is the defense,” Shurna said. “I think our coaches did a good job scouting the game for us. They gave us a good game plan, and in the second half we clamped down.”

Northwestern outscored Georgia Tech 32-21 in the second half as the Yellow Jackets made only 8 of 27 shots from the field.

Shurna opened the second half with two 3-pointers as the Wildcats pulled away quickly after leading by only five points at halftime.

“That was basically just a wake-up call, in my opinion,” Morris said. “To me it wasn’t a dagger. ... We just need to pick it up on defense.”

Drew Crawford had 14 points and Luka Mirkovic had 13 for Northwestern.

“Good players make them difficult to defend,” said Georgia Tech first-year coach Brian Gregory. “Shurna and Crawford are very good players.”

Morris led Georgia Tech (4-3) with a career-high 21 points. Mfon Udofia had 12.

Northwestern never trailed. Shurna opened the game with a 3-pointer, followed by a three-point play, and the Wildcats were in control most of the game.

“We jumped out early,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. “It seemed like we were playing with the lead most of the game. They made a very good run the last nine minutes of the first half. We were just able to hang on, really.”

Shurna had 15 points in the first half. The Wildcats led by 13 points at 27-14 midway through the half.

Morris helped Georgia Tech rally, scoring 11 of his team’s 13 points in one stretch. Morris had seven straight points to cut the Northwestern lead to 36-33. The Wildcats led 44-39 at halftime but stretched the lead back to 10 at 55-45 on Alex Marcotullio’s 3-pointer.

Northwestern’s biggest lead was 17 points.

“It’s great to get a win and get a win on the road,” Carmody said. “We told our guys before the game, it’s a road game against an ACC team. Another big conference. That’s important. You’re also representing the Big Ten.”

Each team played in the recent Charleston Classic. Northwestern won the tournament, beating LSU, Tulsa and Seton Hall. Georgia Tech lost to Saint Joseph’s and LSU and beat VCU.

Shurna had a career-high 37 points in the win over LSU and was leading the Big Ten with his average of 21.2 points per game before Tuesday night.

Georgia Tech made its first appearance of the season at Philips Arena, home of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. The arena is one of two home courts for the Yellow Jackets this season as their on-campus facility is rebuilt.

Daniel Miller and Glen Rice Jr. each had 10 points for Georgia Tech. Miller had a game-high nine rebounds.

Northwestern made 31 of 56 shots (55.4 percent).

Gregory was Dayton’s coach before he was hired by Georgia Tech. Gregory, a native of Mount Prospect, Ill., was an assistant at Northwestern for three years (1997-99).

“I loved my time there,” Gregory said. “It is a place that is near and dear to me.

“I’m happy for them. I think they’ve got a chance to have a great year.”