ATLANTA - A second-half bout with cramps wasn't going to stop B.J. Elder, and neither was No. 17 Georgia.
Elder, a sophomore guard for Georgia Tech, scored a game-high 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting in leading the Yellow Jackets to an 83-77 upset of the Bulldogs before a sellout crowd of 9,191 fans at Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
"It was a big game," said Elder, whose team snapped a three-game losing streak to its chief rival. "I knew my team needed me, and I just had to push through and fight it."
Elder couldn't fight it anymore after burying a 3-pointer from the right wing with 1:50 left. He fell to the floor in pain with severe cramps in his right quadriceps.
Head coach Paul Hewitt called timeout, and Elder didn't return. It was OK, though. His shot gave Georgia Tech a lead it wouldn't relinquish as the Yellow Jackets (2-0) ended the game on a 7-0 run.
"That was courageous," said Hewitt, who won his 100th game as a head coach.
When Elder is making shots from the outside as he was Wednesday, all an opposing team can do is watch. Elder struggled with his shot in the first half, scoring nine points on 4-of-11 shooting - 1-for-5 from 3-point range.
He was transformed after leaving the locker room, and so was his team. Elder scored 15 points in the second half on 6-of-7 shooting as the Yellow Jackets overcame a dreadful start that saw them fall behind 9-0 in the first two minutes.
"I don't know if anyone in the gym was expecting that of him," said Georgia forward Damien Wilkins, whose team led by as many as 14 points in the first half before Georgia Tech chipped away and entered intermission trailing 42-36. "I know we weren't."
The Bulldogs (1-2) went ahead 77-76 when Wilkins blew past center Chris Bosh on the left baseline for a dunk with 2:08 left, but from there Georgia's offense fizzled.
Point guard Rashad Wright turned the ball over on a drive after Elder's big 3-pointer created a 79-77 lead.
On Georgia's next trip down the floor, swingman Jarvis Hayes couldn't corral a backdoor pass by Wright, and the ball sailed out of bounds. Guard Marvin Lewis was fouled with 34.4 seconds left and hit one of two free throws to make it 80-77, then Georgia called timeout to set up a play.
Coach Jim Harrick tried to get the ball to guard Ezra Williams, but Williams couldn't get free from Lewis after running through several picks. Williams missed a 3-pointer from the right wing, Isma'il Muhammad rebounded it and was fouled.
Muhammad drained the two free throws to effectively end it.
"We turned the ball over on good plays three times in the second half, and that really hurt us," said Harrick, whose team shot 49.2 percent from the field. "We missed a lot of easy inside shots."
Hewitt began to go to Bosh, a 6-foot-10 center who had a big height advantage against a squad that had only one player taller than 6-foot-7, more in the second half.
Bosh finished with 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for his second double-double in as many games.
"He's a load," Bulldogs forward Jonas Hayes said of Bosh, who drifted outside and drilled a 3-pointer with 8:43 left to give the Yellow Jackets their first lead of the game, 63-61. "I didn't think we'd see him shooting 3's."
Jarvis Hayes led the Bulldogs with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting.
"It's tough, but that's how it is on the road," he said.
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or email@example.com.
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