Tech's 1st-round loss beaches Cremins

Longtime coach bows out, 63-62

Florida State moves on to face Terps


March 10, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Georgia Tech's Bobby Cremins left with more sighs than tears -- and looked ahead to a date at the beach.

The 19-year Yellow Jackets coach stomped, paced and tugged at his trademark polka-dot tie, but seventh-seeded Georgia Tech failed to deliver a magical comeback for its outgoing coach, falling, 63-62, to Florida State last night.

The seventh-seeded Seminoles (12-16) advance to play No. 2 Maryland today at 2: 30 p.m. It's the fourth straight opening-round loss in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament for Georgia Tech and Cremins, who announced on Feb. 18 that he would be stepping down.

"Life goes on, life goes on," said Cremins, 52, whose team ended with a 13-17 record. "I'm already thinking of the next chapter. I definitely need time off. It's been an ordeal. My run is over.

"I'm going to get out of town as quickly as I can and get to the beach. I'm going to sit back with a drink and watch the rest of the ACC tournament."

Florida State nearly put it away early, pulling out to a 53-45 lead with 5: 13 remaining. Cremins called a timeout and grimaced as he glanced at the scoreboard.

The Yellow Jackets responded with seven straight points and crept to 53-52 on Alvin Jones' dunk with 3: 26 left. The momentum change was short-lived, as Ron Hale answered with a three-pointer on the Seminoles' next trip downcourt, causing Cremins to take a left-handed swing in the air.

Florida State hit five of six free throws to hold off Tech, which did have one last chance. After Jason Collier's three-pointer closed the Yellow Jackets' deficit to 63-62 with 1.4 seconds remaining, Florida State's Justin Mott tossed a pass the length of the court. Damous Anderson outran two Yellow Jackets to barely tap the ball, and the last second ran off the clock.

The Charlotte Coliseum crowd gave a standing ovation for Cremins, who then ran off the court and into the locker room. In the news conference, the ACC's third-winningest coach dwelt more on Tech's recent decline than his three league titles and one Final Four appearance.

"We have played some ugly basketball," Cremins said. "I felt we haven't been a part of ACC basketball."

Cremins took over Tech in 1982 after a 4-23 season. Three years later, he guided the Yellow Jackets to their first ACC tournament title.

He led Tech to 14 postseason berths and is one of six coaches to win at least three ACC titles.

Still, Cremins couldn't shake some regrets.

"The program has slipped," said Cremins, who leaves with a 354-237 (.599) record. "The new coach will have his work cut out for him. I wish I had left it in better shape. But the only way you leave these days is losing."

No. 3 Duke 94, Clemson 63: Shane Battier scored 19 points and Duke opened its quest for its 11th ACC title by dominating Clemson inside and out.

The Blue Devils (25-4) shot 56 percent, including making an ACC tournament-record 17 of 29 three-point attempts, and had a 38-28 edge on the boards, helping them defeat Clemson for the ninth consecutive time.

Duke used a 31-4 run in the first half to take control of a game that matched the highest-scoring team in the ACC against the league's last-place team in scoring and shooting.

Freshman Mike Dunleavy made a successful return after missing four games with mononucleosis as Duke, the tournament's top seed, advanced to tomorrow's semifinals.

Dunleavy played 20 minutes, shot 4-for-4 on three-pointers and finished with 16 points.

"It looked like getting sick helped him," said teammate Chris Carrawell, who scored 11 points. "He came out better, knocking down some shots."

Clemson coach Larry Shyatt said Dunleavy "looks like he didn't miss a beat."

Nate James added 18 points for Duke and Jason Williams had 14.

Ninth-seeded Clemson (10-20) shot 37 percent and had 17 turnovers. The Tigers have lost three games to Duke this season by a combined 79 points.

"Once they took over, I don't think we were ever capable of putting them back on their heels," Shyatt said.

Clemson got 14 points from Will Solomon, 11 from Andrius Jurkunas and 10 from Ray Henderson.

(Box scores, 8D)

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