Georgia Tech’s young team is quickly gaining confidence thanks to two convincing wins over lesser opponents.
The 23rd-ranked Yellow Jackets hope to continue building upon that momentum Thursday when they host intracity rival Georgia State in a matchup of two Atlanta-based schools.
Georgia Tech’s three freshman starters have quickly found their groove as they’re all scoring in double digits through two games. McDonald’s All-Americans Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young are both averaging 14.5 points while center Zach Peacock is contributing 11.5 points per game.
“There’s a lot of expectations on this freshmen class,” said Crittenton, who also leads the team with 7.5 assists. “I think we’re doing a good job of living up to it.”
Crittenton posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists Monday and was one of six players in double figures as Georgia Tech (2-0) routed Jackson State 100-70. Sophomore guard Lewis Clinch, who scored a team-high 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting, leads the team in scoring at 15.0 points per game.
Ra’Sean Dickey scored 15 points off the bench and grabbed eight rebounds while Young and Peacock each had 14 points. Those performances helped the Yellow Jackets shoot 65.0 percent (39 of 60) from the field, their highest mark since Jan. 27, 1993, and improve their season average to 58.1 percent.
“We can finish around the bucket,” Hewitt said. “This team can capitalize on their defensive ability better than most of the teams I’ve been around because when they get out in transition, they can really finish around the glass.”
Georgia Tech hasn’t been finishing from the foul line, however, making 19 of 32 Monday and shooting just 60.8 percent in its first two games. The Yellow Jackets look to improve on that effort at home, where they have won 26 of their last 27 against non-conference opponents.
The Yellow Jackets have had similar success against the Panthers, winning 11 straight games between the teams to lead the the all-time series 14-2. The teams haven’t meet since Dec. 4, 1993, when Georgia Tech won 95-65.
After going 7-22 in 2005-06, Georgia State (0-1) opened this season with a 72-66 defeat Saturday to Charleston. Lance Perique led four players in double figures with 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Leonard Mendez scored 12 points. Rashad Chase and Trae Goldston each added 10 points for the Panthers, who shot 7 of 14 from beyond the arc.
The undersized Panthers struggled down the stretch, especially without 6-foot-9 center Deven Dickerson, who was limited to five minutes due to an asthma attack.
“I think our big guys just got worn down a little down the last 10 minutes and weren’t quite as quick as early in the game,” Panthers coach Mike Perry said. “We played well in the first half and controlled the game a little. We tried four or five defenses to keep them off balance, but some long rebounds bounced their way instead of ours.”
The Yellow Jackets are hoping things continue to bounce their way as they gear up to face stronger competition at the Maui Invitational in Hawaii after this game. Georgia Tech opens the tournament Monday against Purdue and could potentially face No. 6 UCLA, No. 13 Memphis and No. 22 Kentucky in its other two games.