ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt will not settle
for mediocre defense, so he continues to challenge his players'
"If it's about playing hard and being an also-ran, we're good
enough right now," Hewitt said after the Yellow
Jackets (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today; No. 21 AP) beat Penn State 77-73 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on
"But if we want to play hard and give ourselves a chance to
string some wins together, we've got to play better defensively."
The Yellow Jackets (6-1), coming off an 88-73 loss to now-No. 1
UCLA in the title game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational last
week, never put away Penn State after Jeremis Smith's five-footer
gave them a 69-61 lead with 3:24 remaining.
Jamelle Cornley led the Nittany Lions (4-2) with 20 points. Ben
Luber, who added nine assists, hit two straight 3-pointers, the
last coming with 44.4 seconds remaining, to keep Penn State close.
Danny Morrissey's 3 from the left wing cut the lead to 74-71
with 21.1 seconds remaining.
"I know coach Hewitt is disappointed that we didn't challenge
them better on the perimeter and in the paint," Smith said. "He's
right. We've got a lot of work to do."
Morrow, whose two foul shots ended the scoring with 8.2 seconds
left, gave Georgia Tech a 67-59 lead by hitting a wild 3 from the
left corner as the shot clock almost expired near the four-minute
"That was a back breaker, but I thought we had the tempo where
we needed it," Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. "We just
weren't very strong with the ball in the backcourt."
The Nittany Lions had to monitor the minutes of Geary Claxton,
who came off the bench in just his second game since returning from
a broken hand. Claxton had 30 starts in each of the last two
seasons and averaged 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds as a sophomore.
In 28 minutes, Claxton had 12 points and six rebounds. His layin
with 3:58 remaining cut the lead to 67-61.
"Claxton is still limited," DeChellis said. "He has this
thing on his hand and he can't shoot the basketball (effectively
from the perimeter), and he can't drive it right-handed. We tried
to get him around the basket. We tried to get him in the post."
Clinch and Morrow each went 4-for-8 from behind the arc.
Morrow finished with 15 and Javaris Crittenton added 14.
"I feel like we can beat any team in the country," Clinch
said. "We are so good offensively that if we can play defense, the
rest will take care of itself."
Hewitt wants Clinch to take a different approach to basketball.
"He's making shots, but I'm very honest with my guys," Hewitt
said. "Of the 20 he scored, I know of at least six he gave back in
the first half on just simple breakdowns."
The Nittany Lions fell to 1-16 against ranked opponents under
DeChellis. Now in his fourth season at Penn State, DeChellis has a
5-28 overall road record.
"I think we have improved since a week ago when we played,"
DeChellis said. "Is it a moral victory? No, it's still miserable.
It's a loss, but I thought we did some positive things."
Georgia Tech's Thaddeus Young, a highly regarded freshman
averaging 14.2 points and 4.5 rebounds, was not in uniform and
missed his first game because of patellar tendinitis.
Hewitt hopes Young will recover in time for the team's Atlantic
Coast Conference opener at Miami on Sunday.
"I guess if we had really pushed it, he could have played
tonight," Hewitt said, "but I didn't see the sense in doing
Hewitt used a three-guard lineup with Mario West making his
first start of the season.