LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP)—Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt had a talk with his freshman point guard at halftime, and the subject was boxing.
It worked as Javaris Crittenton scored 10 of his 20 points in a four-minute stretch late in the second half to lead the 19th-ranked Yellow Jackets to a 79-61 victory over Purdue on Monday in the opening round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
“My coach told me at halftime to slow down and let it come to you. He gave a boxing analogy, throw a couple of jabs to get your opponent offbalance and then go at him and give him the knockout punch,” Crittenton said. “It was almost prophetic what he said. Because he said I would have the ball in my hands at the end of the game and I would win the game for us, and that’s what happened.”
The 6-foot-5 Crittenton took over the game with some impressive penetrating moves, scoring all but two of the Yellow Jackets’ points in a 12-2 run that gave them a 72-54 lead with 3:44 to play.
“Javaris Crittenton put it on himself and took over the game,” Purdue guard Chris Kramer said.
Georgia Tech (4-0) will play No. 12 Memphis, which beat Oklahoma 77-65, in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Purdue (2-1) used physical defense to stay with Georgia Tech until Crittenton took over. He had two moves where he penetrated through three defenders and flipped the ball underhanded up to the rim for baskets. He added a one-handed move to the right side of the rim that made it 70-54 with 5:10 left and then capped his personal run with two free throws that gave Georgia Tech the 18-point lead with 3:44 to go.
Crittenton, who entered the game averaging 15.7 points and 8.0 assists, had five assists and finished 11-for-12 from the free throw line, all in the second half.
“I did tell him at halftime to relax and we’ll put the ball in your hands and you’ll win the game for us,” Hewitt said of Crittenton.
Carl Landry had 14 points for the Boilermakers, who finished 4-for-24 from 3-point range.
“Their pressure sped us up a lot,” Kramer said, “and then when we started missing those 3s with the long rebounds they were able to get their offensive transition going in the second half.”
Lewis Clinch had 14 points for the Yellow Jackets, while freshmen Thaddeus Young and Zack Peacock each had 13. Young had 10 rebounds as Georgia Tech finished with a 48-29 advantage on the boards.
“They came at us ever harder than we expected,” Hewitt said of Purdue’s early defense.
Crittenton, Young and Peacock, the three freshmen starters, combined for 13 of Georgia Tech’s 21 turnovers.
“They played like freshmen in the first half, but they are freshmen,” Hewitt said. “I really like these freshmen, this team, because they play unselfishly.”
The Boilermakers had a 24-17 lead, but the Yellow Jackets closed the first half on an 11-0 run. Georgia Tech went 4-for-6 from the field over the closing 3:43, while Purdue missed all six shots it took and committed two turnovers.
“I thought the key to the game was the end of the first half,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “The last three, four minutes we took some quick shots. I thought it was really important for us to keep Georgia Tech playing from behind.
“They took over with 12, 13 minutes to go, and it kind of snowballed from there.”