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Clinch, Georgia Tech hold off pesky Penn State

Nov 29, 2006 - 3:35 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Lewis Clinch's sizzling shooting signaled another loss for a non-conference foe at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

Clinch sank four 3-pointers and scored 20 points as No. 24 Georgia Tech rebounded from its first loss of the season with a tight 77-73 victory over Penn State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

Anthony Morrow scored 15 points and freshman Javaris Crittenton added 14 as the Yellow Jackets improved to 3-0 at home in this event and 151-9 here against non-conference opponents since the start of the 1981-82 season.

Despite being overmatched athletically, the Nittany Lions (4-2) were able to stay close with a deliberate half-court attack that took advantage of the Yellow Jackets' aggressiveness in the passing lanes.

The defensive lapses are a sore point for Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt.

"Defensively we've got to find ourselves," he said. "We got lost a little bit. We didn't play well defensively against UCLA (last Wednesday), and again tonight, especially off the dribble, our defense was non-existent."

Grabbing a 30-20 lead with 6:48 left in the first half on a dunk by Jeremis Smith, Georgia Tech (6-1) found itself unable to increase the margin as it led, 37-34, at the break.

The Yellow Jackets, who posted a 99-68 rout over Michigan in their last ACC-Big Ten Challenge game here in 2004, made another push at the start of the second half, going ahead, 45-38, on a shot from the arc by Clinch with 16:24 left. The sophomore finished 8-of-13 from the field.

"Tonight, for some reason, we didn't find him in the zone like we needed to," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said about Clinch. "We talked about (Clinch) and (Crittenton) for a couple of days."

However, Geary Claxton had a layup, Jamelle Cornley hit a jumper and Brandon Hassell dunked off a pass by Claxton to bring Penn State within 53-52 with 11:05 remaining.

A 3-pointer by Ben Luber put the Nittany Lions' deficit at 69-65 with 1:31 to play, but Morrow answered with a shot from the arc of his own. Crittenton made 3-of-4 free throws and Morrow added two from the stripe to seal the victory in the closing minute.

Just like Clinch, Morrow finished 4-of-8 from the arc for Georgia Tech, which shot 55 percent (28-of-51), including 10-of-24 on 3-pointers.

"That's the first time we've seen that much zone, and I think we handled it very well, making 10 threes," Hewitt said. "For seeing 39 or 40 minutes of zone, 10 threes is a good number and we shot a good percentage."

Cornley scored 20 points and Claxton added 12 for Penn State, which shot 56 percent (30-of-54).

Claxton was playing in just his second game after breaking his right hand in an exhibition game against Edinboro on November 1. The junior swingman shot 5-of-11 from the field, grabbed six rebounds and collected three steals in 28 minutes off the bench.

"Claxton is still limited - he has this thing on his hand and he can't shoot the basketball and he can't drive it right-handed," DeChellis said. "But I think that he's a good defender and a good rebounder and he does that for us. We'll try to work him back into the lineup."

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