ATLANTA (AP)—It’s no surprise Javaris Crittenton felt comfortable in his Georgia Tech debut.
“I didn’t have any jitters, personally,” the freshman point guard said. “I’m in my hometown, and I know I’ve got a lot of support.”
Crittenton and Thaddeus Young had impressive debuts for No. 23 Georgia Tech, combining for 32 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in an 83-49 victory over Elon on Friday night.
“Javaris and Thaddeus did a nice job, but they’ve got some things they need to work on, and they know it,” Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt said. “Defensively, they can get a lot better, and taking care of the ball they can get a lot better.”
Crittenton, a highly regarded recruit who played two seasons with eventual No. 1 overall NBA pick Dwight Howard at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, scored 17 points. He gave the Yellow Jackets their first 20-point lead with a fast-break runner early in the second half.
Young, the most talented freshman forward at Georgia Tech since Chris Bosh four years ago, finished with 13 points and six rebounds. His fast-break dunk with 4:33 remaining made it 77-43.
“I think it went great,” said Young, who grew up in Memphis, Tenn. “We’re just looking forward to the next game.”
LeVonn Jordan led Elon with 15 points, and Chris Chalko finished with 13. The Phoenix, coming off a 15-14 season, a 10-4 record in the Southern Conference and a school-first division title, was without senior point guard Montell Watson, who twisted an ankle and won’t return until early January.
Chalko was 3-for-7 on 3-point attempts, but Elon coach Ernie Nestor thought Georgia Tech’s defense took away the perimeter threat.
“He just couldn’t get free tonight, because they wouldn’t let him free,” Nestor said. “They came with a concerted effort to put the brakes on him. It was a tough, especially since they had a variety of guys that could guard him. They had a half dozen or more.”
Swingman Lewis Clinch scored 14 points for the Yellow Jackets, who had a game-high eight rebounds from Ra’Sean Dickey.
Mario West scored consecutive fast-break layups, the second coming with 6:10 remaining, to make it 73-41.
Crittenton is poised to join a long list of stellar point guards, like Jarrett Jack, Stephon Marbury, Kenny Anderson, Travis Best and Mark Price, to play at Georgia Tech. But the freshman had four turnovers to go with five assists.
“I’ve got to limit my turnovers,” Crittenton said. “My assist-to-turnover ratio needs to be better, like the carry turnover messed me up. I played OK, but there’s always room to improve. (Our ball) rotation needs to be quicker.”
Georgia Tech lost 13 of 15 to end last season with an 11-17 record, its worst under Hewitt. Now in his sixth year, Hewitt led the Yellow Jackets to their only appearance in the national title game in 2003-04.
According to Nestor, who coached Elon to an 81-69 loss a year ago at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, Georgia Tech looked nothing like the team that struggled so much last winter.
“You sense that Georgia Tech is on a mission,” Nestor said. “They are on a mission to show that they’re a better basketball team than they finished last year. That’s very evident in the way they played.”