ATLANTA — Lewis Clinch’s return couldn’t have come at a better time for Georgia Tech.
The senior scored 18 points and took over some of the point guard duties with Maurice Miller sidelined, as the Yellow Jackets extended their winning streak against Atlanta foe Georgia State to 14 games with an 84-64 home victory on Wednesday night.
“Im not surprised. He can do that every night,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said of Clinch’s instant contribution. “With Lewis, we can do some different things offensively.”
Clinch, academically ineligible for the first semester, was 4-for-8 on 3-pointers and had four assists, running the offense smoothly when freshman Iman Shumpert got in foul trouble early in the second half.
“He shot them right out of the zone,” Hewitt added. “He’s one of those guys that is always going to find a way to contribute.”
Georgia Tech (6-2) will have to count on Clinch and Shumpert with Miller sidelined for about three weeks.
The sophomore broke his nose late in Sunday’s 66-60 home loss to Illinois-Chicago.
“It felt great to be in the mix and playing with the guys,” said Clinch, who averaged 9.8 points in his first three seasons.
Sophomore forward Gani Lawal had 23 points and 10 rebounds against Georgia State (3-7), while sophomore center Brad Sheehan came off the bench to score 16. Shumpert finished with 11 assists.
It was the sixth double-double of the season for Lawal.
“He’s our best player,” Hewitt said. “Clearly he’s our go-to guy.”
Dante Curry, a sophomore guard, had 21 points in his first game to lead Georgia State. The transfer from South Florida was 4-for-7 from behind the 3-point arc.
With Georgia State missing its first eight shots in the game, Georgia Tech jumped to a 10-0 lead and was up by as many as 15 points with 4:19 left in the first. But the Panthers went on a 10-4 run to cut the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 35-26 at halftime.
Lawal had 17 points and nine rebounds in the first half as the Yellow Jackets dominated inside with a 30-17 edge on the boards. The final rebounding advantage was 48-24.
Georgia Tech put the game away by outscoring Georgia State 26-13 coming out of the break, taking a 61-39 lead midway in the second half.
Sheehan had 14 points in the second half.
The Yellow Jackets have a two-game trip to California before opening Atlantic Coast Conference play on Dec. 28 at home against Virginia.
Georgia Tech plays at Pepperdine on Saturday and at Southern Cal on Monday.