ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Kevin Clark did not come up with a victory in his St. John's coaching debut, but his team showed plenty of fight.
B.J. Elder scored 15 points and Luke Schenscher added 12 as No. 6 Georgia Tech remained unbeaten with a 79-66 victory to spoil Clark's first game.
St. John's (2-5) played its first game since Mike Jarvis was fired on Friday, thrusting the inexperienced Clark, a former Division III player, into his first Division I coaching job. Clark's team got off to a rough start before making things competitive against the heavily favored Yellow Jackets.
"You've got to credit Kevin Clark and his staff for getting this team together under some difficult circumstances," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, who took his name out of consideration for the job earlier this week. "We knew they would come out and play with a lot of emotion."
Georgia Tech (10-0) is off to the second-best start in school history, one win shy of the 1962-63 squad. The Yellow Jackets bolted to a 24-8 lead on a 3-pointer by Elder, but the Red Storm never quit and made a series of runs.
"I thought today was a terrific effort by the St. John's men's basketball team," Clark said. "They showed tremendous character against an excellent Georgia Tech basketball team."
Elijah Ingram's two free throws capped an 11-0 spurt that pulled St. John's within 74-64 with 1:49 left. The Red Storm got back the ball with a chance to get closer, but Ingram, who scored 21 points, lost it in the lane.
Jarrett Jack's two foul shots with 56 seconds remaining gave Georgia Tech some breathing room.
Since Clark is not considered a candidate for the full-time position, Hewitt again deflected any interest in taking over at St. John's after the game.
"Maybe five years ago, eight years ago, I would've jumped at the opportunity," said Hewitt, a Long Island native. "I still respect that job because of the people there, but I've got a great situation here."
The Red Storm rallied from the early 16-point deficit to get within 31-30 on consecutive 3-pointers by Ingram, quieting the crowd the Alexander Memorial Coliseum. The game was close from that point and the Yellow Jackets held a 39-33 halftime edge.
After Andre Stanley's jumper cut the deficit to 54-46, Georgia Tech finally spurted out to take control with a 13-3 tear. It was capped by a resounding alley-oop slam on a feed from Jack to Isma'il Muhammad, who used a twisting move in mid-air to throw it down for a 67-49 cushion with 5:22 to go.
"It was a great feeling," Muhammad said. "We have to continue to keep it up."
Schenscher notched his second straight double-double by grabbing 10 rebounds and Muhammad collected eight points and 12 rebounds off the bench. The Yellow Jackets, who entered with an average victory margin of more than 25 points, matched their closest win of the season - a 75-62 triumph over Saint Louis on December 13.