ATLANTA - Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins tweaked his lineup Wednesday night, and the Yellow Jackets put on an impressive defensive showing to beat Florida State 71-58 for its first ACC victory of the season.
Tech (7-7 overall, 1-3 ACC) held FSU to 35.8 percent from the field, including 2 for 17 from beyond the arc. Guard James Collins, the Seminoles' leading scorer, managed only seven points on 3 of 17 shooting while being defended much of the game by freshman surprise starter Jon Babul.
The Seminoles (9-4, 1-4) suffered their third consecutive loss after a 9-1 start.
Cremins started Babul at off-guard, benched freshman point guard Kevin Morris and moved Gary Saunders to the point for the start of the game. Babul scored only two points in 28 minutes, but he played sound defense and blocked two shots. Saunders had 12 points and five assists from both guard spots, and Morris had three points and three assists off the bench.
Collins, a senior from Jacksonville, hadn't been limited to single-digit scoring all year.
"It was one of those nights where it wouldn't fall for me and it wouldn't fall for anybody else," said Collins, who missed nine of his 10 treys. "We just didn't execute. I had open shots and didn't make them. You couldn't buy a bucket."
Saunders had another explanation for Collins' difficulty. "I think he has a problem with shot selection, and their coach doesn't run enough plays to him," Saunders said. "And Jon Babul played excellent defense on him."
Said Babul: "I took him out of his game pretty much. (Assistant) coach (Kevin) Cantwell told me he likes to penetrate. He said, `Deny him the ball.' I didn't let him have it, and when he did get it, he didn't penetrate."
Matt Hapring led the Yellow Jackets with 20 points, and Michael Maddox added a career-high 19. Center Eddie Elisma contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth straight double-double.
Randell Jackson led FSU with 19 points, and Corey Louis had 17. The Seminoles were a big surprise on the boards, out-rebounding the Jackets 49-32.
"Our offense is struggling," FSU coach Pat Kennedy said. "We've got to get our offense up to where our defense is. And we've got to get off nine (wins)."
Tech, which never led in the first half, used a 21-5 run that began at the 14:34 mark of the second half to take a 58-48 lead with 5:59 remaining. During that span, the 'Noles managed only a pair of dunks by Jackson and Louis and a free throw by Jackson.
FSU pulled to within five with 2:10 left on a drive by Kerry Thompson, but Thompson then missed a free throw and Collins committed one of his three turnovers, and Tech pulled back out to a double-digit lead.
"It's nice to get in the `win' column," said Tech coach Bobby Cremins, whose team had lost seven of nine. "It's been a bit of a dry spell. I thought we hung in there, and in the second half, we showed some flashes.
"I saw much better play from Gary Sanuders, and I've said all along, the guard play has been driving me crazy. We made a little switch to try and give Kevin Morris a wake-up call. I thought Jon Babul really helped."
Neither team had much offense in a first half played to a 32-32 tie. Tech managed only three points from starting guards Babul and Saunders, and the team shot 34.4 percent. FSU's backcourt was worse, with Collins and Thompson combining for just two points.
Collins was 0 for 8 from the floor and had three of shots blocked, including two in succession.
Tech never led during the first half, but pulled even at 25 on a baseline jumper by Harpring and then at 32 on a three by Hapring with 45 seconds showing.
Tech plays at North Carolina Saturday. FSU travels to Seton Hall Saturday before returning to league competition against North Carolina at home next Wednesday in an ESPN-televised game.
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