By MATTHEW STEVENS
COLUMBUS – Gavin Ware's play on the court Saturday night could've been interpreted as a polite message to the Georgetown University coaching staff - you got the wrong guy.
And if the Hoyas want the right guy, all they have to go is wait one year.
The junior center dominated Brandon senior center Tyler Adams, who has signed with Georgetown after originally committing to Duke, for 17 points in a high-profile matchup that the Yellowjackets turned into a 57-37 laugher.
"When Tyler was committed to Duke, the Georgetown coaches (including former MSU assistant Robert Kirby) were talking a lot with me and then he changed his mind and screwed that all up," Ware said. "I think I proved tonight that all I have to do is work hard and listen to my coaches and it'll all work out in the end."
Ware, who is also being heavily recruited by Mississippi State, Alabama and Missouri, had all of his points in the first three quarters and was able to showcase his shooting range by bringing the bigger Adams out beyond the lane on defense and even hit a three-pointer to end the third quarter.
"I think that's a real underrated part of my game because everybody thinks I'm just a post player like Tyler but I try to make people guard me beyond the block," Ware said.
In a game, Ware said he "had circled in the calendar for months," Adams was held to a season-low four points on 1-for-7 shooting and the Yellowjackets (10-1) 2-3 zone defense forced Adams to catch the ball 12-15 feet from the low block.
"If you're a Division 1 player, then you can't be denied the basketball where you want it by other 17-year-olds," Brandon head coach Fredrick Barnes said.
Adams, who didn't have a field goal until the 3-minute mark of the third quarter, had the only point for the Bulldogs (12-3) in the first quarter as Starkville built up a 14-1 run off points from Ware and Tory Rice.
"I thought a big key to this game was the way our big guys like Gavin Ware made big Tyler (Adams) work on the defense," Starkville head coach Greg Carter said. "We've gotten better and better every game since our season-opening loss to Meridian and I like my team right now."
Saturday night was only the sixth time in the last two seasons that Adams was held to single-digits and lowest output in that period.
"We thought they'd just pound it to him over and over again but once he started catching the ball at the elbow or beyond, I knew it'd be easier for me and our team to stop them," Ware said.
Brandon, who has now lost three of its last four games, was able to find small forward Trey Brown for three alley-oop dunks in the second quarter but its inability to make perimeter shots made the Yellowjackets tight zone effective.
Brown, who has signed to play at UT-Chattanooga next season, led Brandon in scoring with a game-high 21 points.
"We don't a have a point guard at all and once they realized we couldn't make shots all night, we couldn't loosen up that zone at any point," Barnes said.
Starkville will next be in action across the state line when they compete in the Elite Tournament in Mobile, Ala., two days after Christmas.