KENNESAW, Ga. -- Kennesaw State knew what it meant to get a crack at an Atlantic Coast Conference team on its home court and the Owls responded in a big way Monday night.
Spencer Dixon had a game-high 27 points and the Atlantic Sun team built a 20-point lead in the first half en route to an 80-63 upset of Georgia Tech.
"They played like champions," Kennesaw State coach Tony Ingle said. "They knew what this meant. This was the biggest game on campus in the history of the school."
LaDaris Green had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Owls (2-0), who had never beaten a team from the ACC or any of the other top conferences. But the previous losses, including 88-55 to Georgia Tech last season, were all on the road.
"The crowd really helped me and the team out," said Dixon, a junior guard who hit 5 of 10 3-pointers.
A record attendance of 4,784 jammed into the Kennesaw State Convocation Center and the Owls put on a show, hitting 10 of 23 (43.5 percent) from behind the 3-point arc and taking the game to Georgia Tech.
"Our defense was tremendous," Ingle said.
Iman Shumpert scored 20 points to lead Georgia Tech (1-1). Glen Rice Jr. scored 15 and Brian Oliver had 12 points. The Yellow Jackets cut the deficit to 54-49 midway in the second half, but then the Owls pulled away for good as Dixon scored 18 points in the second half.
"It's disappointing," Shumpert said. "It was a big game for them and we've got to treat every game as big for us."
The Yellow Jackets won 23 games and made the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season. But they start four sophomores and a freshman this season after losing three of their top four scorers, including Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal, to the NBA.
"We've got to buckle down mentally," Oliver said. "We have the skills."
Kennesaw State, which won the NCAA Division II national title in 2004, moved up to NCAA Division I as a transitional member for the 2005-06 season and became a full-fledged member of the Atlantic Sun last season.
Georgia Tech, was 0 for 6 from behind the 3-point line in the first half compared to 6 for 14 for Kennesaw State.
Georgia Tech shot just 28.8 percent (17 for 59) in a 52-39 opening victory at home against Charleston Southern and was 3 for 22 on 3-pointers in that game. The Yellow Jackets made only 35 percent (21 for 60) of their shots against Kennesaw State and were 4 for 14 on 3-pointers.
"I have a lot of confidence in our players," Ingle said. "This is what they came here for."
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