Fast start leads Georgia Tech over struggling ClemsonFeb 4, 2007 - 1:09 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The quick start of freshman Javaris Crittenton and Georgia Tech proved too much for slumping Clemson.
Crittenton scored 11 of his season-high 26 points in the first half as the Yellow Jackets rolled to an 80-62 Atlantic Coast Conference victory over the No. 21 Tigers.
Fellow freshman Thaddeus Young scored 14 points and Anthony Morrow added 11 for Georgia Tech (14-8, 3-6 ACC), which snapped a four-game losing streak, winning for the first time since an 88-80 win here against Florida State on January 13.
The Yellow Jackets can credit a strong start for the reversal of fortunes, connecting on 13 of their first 25 shots in grabbing a 29-12 advantage with 7:13 remaining. Young had eight points in that span.
"We played with a lot more intensity, a lot more energy, and we sustained that intensity and energy throughout the game," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said.
"We came out and played hard from the beginning," Crittenton said. "We did not wait till the second half when we were down 10 points or so, we got after it from the start."
When asked if a change in the offense had jump-started the team, Hewitt admitted the sobering truth.
"Same offense, same plays, just better movement and better execution," he added. "That's the frustrating part."
Although the lead was cut to 36-27 at the half, Georgia Tech came out firing again after the break. Morrow and Jeremis Smith both had four points during a 12-2 run that put the Yellow Jackets back up, 48-31, with 15:35 remaining.
Crittenton, who finished 9-of-14 from the field, dunked with 8:01 left, giving Georgia Tech a 61-47 edge.
The team's second-leading scorer at 13.0 points coming in, Crittenton struggled mightily during the team's losing streak, shooting just 23.9 percent (11-of-46) from the field.
Hewitt credits the team's big men and the screens that they set for the 6-5 guard as a factor for Crittenton's improved shooting.
"I thought the reason he played better is because our bigs gave him more help," Hewitt said. "Clemson is an over-play team and they really get up into you, and we gave Javaris help by screening and getting the wings open or flashing. That released the pressure instead of leaving him out there on an island by himself."
Besides the strong shooting, Crittenton had an all-around strong game, grabbing seven steals, handing out six assists and pulling down five rebounds. His steal total fell one shy of tying the school record of eight, accomplished by Kenny Anderson during the 1990-91 season.
"It feels great to get a win," Crittenton said. "Besides the points, steals and all the other stuff, it just feels good to get a win."
For Clemson, the struggles since the end of its school record-tying 17-0 start at Maryland on January 13 continued, losing for the fifth time in six games.
Some of the Tigers' problems during the slump have been offensive, as they have failed to crack 67 points four times. They finished 41 percent (22-of-54) from the field, including 5-of-23 (22 percent) on 3-pointers.
Clemson was also pounded on the boards by a 44-28 margin, forcing coach Oliver Purnell to wonder if his team has lost some of its fight.
"Sure, I'm concerned about that, but as I told them, I'm going to fight for them and we've got to fight down the stretch," Purnell said. "We've got to make sure that we fight down the stretch, battle, and bounce back and be ready to play Florida State Wednesday."
James Mays led four players in double figures with 15 points and Cliff Hammond added 13 for the Tigers, who committed 22 turnovers in losing their third straight league road game.
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
CLEMSON (21) 27 35 62
GEORGIA TECH 36 44 80 FINAL
Feb 3 3:26 PM
- NCAA BB
CLEMSON (21) 27
GEORGIA TECH 36 HALFTIME
Feb 3 1:58 PM
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