The Wolfpack controlled the first 30 minutes of play and held an 11-point lead with 11 minutes left in the game. Then it all fell apart.
Suddenly the Pack, coming off an emotionally and physically draining upset of rival North Carolina on Saturday, looked exhausted. Turnovers piled up and the defensive intensity slacked, allowing Georgia Tech to go on an 18-0 run and take control of the game.
Now trailing by seven, the Pack never managed to piece together a comeback, falling to the Yellow Jackets 74-65 on Tuesday night at Alexander Memorial Colesium.
Crittenton led all scorers with 21 points and seven assist. Four Wolfpack players scored in double figures - Gavin Grant and Brandon Costner each had 17, Ben McCauley added 16 and Courtney Fells scored 13 in the losing effort.
The depth of Georgia Tech took its toll on the Pack down the stretch. State's bench scored no points in 18 minutes, while the Yellow Jackets got 28 bench points and 84 minutes from its bench.
The Pack jumped all over the Yellow Jackets to start the game, rocketing out to 17-2 lead in the opening minutes. The Pack managed to get its transition game going thanks to poor shooting and sloppy play from the Jackets. Even in the halfcourt set, the Pack used crisp passing to find open teammates and open shots.
Dennis Horner, who started eight games while Engin Atsur was out with a hamstring injury, took a nasty blow to the nose early in the game and didn't return until the 13 minute mark in the second half. Javaris Crittenton caught Horner with an elbow square in the nose on a drive to the basket, leaving Horner with a bad cut on his nose and a pool of blood on the court.
Georgia Tech made its run in the middle of the half, cutting the lead to as low as six points. State stretched the lead back out to double digits and should have took an 11-point lead into halftime. But with time expiring, Crittenton launched a 75-footer from the opposing foul line that caught nothing but the bottom of the net and cut the Wolfpack lead to eight.
The shot didn't appear to effect momentum at the start of the second half, as the Pack pushed the lead back to double digits. From that point on, leading 56-45, the Pack managed just one field goal and nine points in the final 11 minutes of action.
Atsur guided the Pack offense in the first half by finding open teammates, racking up six assists. But the senior point guard, still recovering from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two months, struggled to get the offense rolling in the second half. Atsur finished the game with two points on 1-of-9 shooting, six assists and six turnovers.