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Tech's torrid start continues in Columbus

12/4/2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt calls guard
B.J. Elder "college basketball's biggest secret."

He certainly can't describe his own team that way anymore.

Elder and Marvin Lewis combined for nine points in a 13-0
first-half run and Isma'il Muhammad's high-wire dunk shifted the
momentum in the second half to lead No. 15 Georgia Tech (No. 13 AP) over Ohio
State 73-53 Wednesday night, clinching a fifth straight triumph by the ACC in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

The Yellow Jackets' defense forced 20 turnovers and held Ohio
State to 32.7 percent shooting from the field.

"We feel like we're a team that can really smother teams
defensively," Hewitt said. "We've got a number of guys who can
guard multiple positions. We've been causing people to turn the
ball over pretty well in these first six games."

It was Ohio State's worst loss in its six years in Value City
Arena, where the Buckeyes came in with a 69-13 record, including
13-3 against ranked opponents.

"We couldn't guard them on the perimeter," Ohio State coach
Jim O'Brien said. "When we wanted a stop, we couldn't do it."

Elder finished with 18 points, Lewis had 15 and Jarrett Jack 14
for the Yellow Jackets (6-0), who matched their best start since
1994-95. Georgia Tech won the Preseason NIT last week, along the
way pounding No. 1 Connecticut 77-61 and Texas Tech 85-65.

The Yellow Jackets have four players averaging in double
figures, providing untold problems for opponents intent on clamping
down on a particular player.

"That's the way the game should be played," Hewitt said of his
team's many weapons on offense. With a laugh, he added, "Of
course, when you have balanced scoring and you win, guys credit
you. When you have balanced scoring and you lose, somebody's not
getting enough shots."

The Yellow Jackets' win was the fifth in six games for the ACC
in the challenge. Georgia Tech came in having won just one of four
games in the annual head-to-head meetings with the Big Ten, while
Ohio State was 1-1.

Ricardo Billings and Velimir Radinovic each scored 12 points and
J.J. Sullinger added 10 for Ohio State (2-3).

"The thing that's disturbing to me, and I take full
responsibility for this, is we look like a team that has not been
coached a day," said O'Brien, who has been reduced to whispering
for the first two months of the season because of vocal-cord damage
sustained during neck surgery. "That's what's most embarrassing to
me with where we are right now. This was our first home game and I
got the sense we were not excited to be playing. I don't understand
that."

The Yellow Jackets led 10-8 when the Buckeyes didn't score for
9{ minutes, missing all seven of their shots from the field with
four turnovers as the lead expanded to 23-8.

Ohio State, down 34-23 at halftime, drew as close as 44-36 when
Tony Stockman hit three free throws after he was fouled by
Muhammad.

Muhammad, who finished with nine points, took away the momentum
the Buckeyes had gained when he dunked while jumping over Billings,
and was fouled on the play. Even a partisan crowd of 13,859 oohed
and aahed after Muhammad soared in for the three-point play.

"I asked him if he's trying to get on SportsCenter's Top 10
plays," Jack said with a laugh. "He's making regular-occurring
appearances. They need to hire him up there."

Muhammad, averaging 15 points off the bench, then hit a rebound
follow to make it 49-36.

He also pinpointed the dunk as a turning point.

"That was when momentum shifted, definitely," Muhammad said.
"Coach Hewitt said anytime I can get a big dunk, go for it because
it really deflates the other team."

Ohio State's worst previous loss at Value City Arena was 72-58
to Michigan State last March 8. Last season ended with the Buckeyes
losing to Georgia Tech 72-58 in the first round of the NIT.

The Buckeyes, winners of 10 of 13 all-time against Georgia Tech,
were 2-of-14 on 3s and had four players with at least three
turnovers.

The Yellow Jackets have opened the season by outscoring
opponents by an average of 22 points.