Georgia Tech 65, N.C. State 59
Posted February 21, 2002 6:01 a.m. EST
ATLANTA — North Carolina State held Tony Akins without a point for nearly the entire first half.
Once he scored, the Wolfpack couldn't stop him anymore.
Akins scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half, leading Georgia Tech to a come-from-behind 65-59 victory over North Carolina State on Wednesday night.
``We focused on him a lot,'' Anthony Grundy said of Akins. ``When he didn't do very well in the beginning, we kind of lost our focus. Once he hit the first one, it got them going.''
Clarence Moore had 14 for the Yellow Jackets (12-15, 4-9 Atlantic Coast Conference), and Ed Nelson added 13. Georgia Tech won for the fourth time in six games.
Stymied for most of the first half by double teams, Akins finally broke free just before the break. He split defenders Archie Miller and Marcus Melvin at the top of the key and drove down the lane, stopping just inside the free throw line and hitting a wide-open shot with 2 seconds left on the clock.
It cut the Wolfpack's lead to eight, but more importantly, got Akins on the board.
``After I hit that shot, I was ready to go in the second half,'' said Akins, the only senior who plays quality minutes for Georgia Tech. ``I'm just glad my teammates kept us close when I wasn't scoring.''
Grundy had 20 for the Wolfpack (19-8, 8-6), who were denied their 20th victory. They haven't won 20 games in the regular season since 1989. Miller scored 13 points, 11 in the first half.
``That's one of the nicest wins I've been a part of in a long time,'' said Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt. ``I can't tell you how happy I am and proud of Tony Akins. He has continued to grow and grow, even as a senior.''
Georgia Tech scored the first eight points of the second half to tie the game at 35, and it remained close the rest of the way. It was just the second time this season N.C. State lost when leading at halftime.
``Once we let them get the momentum, it was hard for us to get it back,'' Grundy said. ``We let this game slip away. We kept the window open for them.''
N.C. State was able to build a six-point lead at one point, but with the Yellow Jackets down 53-52 with 6:17 left, Akins was fouled on a 3-pointer. He made all three free throws, and after Marcus Melvin missed from beyond the arc, Robert Brooks added two free throws for Georgia Tech's largest lead of the game.
``We played a team that, as far as I'm concerned, is going to the NCAA tournament,'' Hewitt said. ``So to come in here and beat a tournament team says a lot about how much these guys improved.''
The Wolfpack got within 61-59 on Archie Miller's baseline jumper and had a chance to tie when Ed Nelson missed from in close on the Yellow Jackets' next possession. But Akins intercepted Ilian Evtimov's pass, and Akins made four straight free throws to close it out.
``I think Tony did a good job of stepping up and making some shots,'' said Wolfpack coach Herb Sendek. ``It started with the last play of the first half, and then me made his free throws in the end when we had to foul.''
Georgia Tech won without any points from second-leading scorer Marvin Lewis, who'd been averaging 11.9 points. It's the first time he has been held scoreless since Feb. 17, 2001, also against the Wolfpack.
N.C. State jumped to a 10-point lead barely 5 minutes into the game and remained in control throughout the opening half with Miller and Grundy leading the way. Miller made 4 of 5 shots, including 3-of-4 from the 3-point line, and Grundy had 10 points.