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McCants' 31 not enough for UNC

2/11/2004

ATLANTA (AP) -- B.J. Elder and Rashad McCants could have been the
only players on the court. Possession after possession, they found
a way to score.

Finally, Elder completed the frantic four-minute stretch with
consecutive 3-pointers, and Georgia Tech had the game in hand.

He made five straight 3s during that span in the second half and
finished with 30 points, leading the Yellow Jackets (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) to
an 88-77 victory over North Carolina (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) on Tuesday night.

"When you're feeling like that, you just want to get a good
look at the basket and let it go," Elder said.

McCants won the personal battle, finishing with 28 of his
career-high 31 points in the second half for North Carolina. It was
an amazing display by two of the top scorers in the Atlantic Coast
Conference.

"I hope you all enjoyed that game," Yellow Jackets coach Paul
Hewitt told reporters. "I found myself caught up in it."

And his advice to Elder during that run?

"I knew well enough to stay out of his way," Hewitt quipped.

Will Bynum added 17 points and Marvin Lewis had 14 for the
Yellow Jackets (18-5, 5-4), who snapped a two-game losing streak in
the conference.

Melvin Scott had 10 points for the Tar Heels (14-7, 4-6).

"I think I elevated my offense when I had to," McCants said.
"My team was looking to me, and I had to provide that."

Sean May and Raymond Felton, who combined for 53 points in a
103-88 victory over Georgia Tech earlier this season, had a tough
time in the rematch. May was 2-for-10 for nine points and Felton,
harried by Jarrett Jack and Bynum throughout, had eight.

"Coach came up with a great scheme to shadow him all the
time," Jack said of stopping Felton. "We just tried to control
him when he got out in the open floor."

Elder came into the game shooting a career-low 41 percent,
including 34 percent behind the arc, another low. His turnaround
started in a victory over Tennessee on Saturday, when he shot
8-for-14 and scored 20 points.

After a shaky first half -- 2-for-6 -- he got going during that
incredible stretch near the midpoint of the second half. The teams
swapped the lead seven times and were tied once, and Elder and
McCants seemed to be playing their own game of H-O-R-S-E.

"He was hot, he was hot," McCants said of Elder. "At some
points, I had a hand in his face, I was almost touching his eyes,
and he still came out shooting."

McCants, the leading scorer in the ACC, started it with an
alley-oop layup on a pass from Jackie Manuel, cutting Georgia
Tech's lead to 46-45. Those were the first of 12 consecutive points
for McCants.

Elder responded with his first 3 of the half before McCants hit
consecutive jumpers, including a 3-pointer, to put North Carolina
ahead 50-49, its first lead since midway through the first half.

"Defensively, I thought we needed to tighten up on McCants,"
Hewitt said. "He's such a good shooter, if you give him a little
room, he can put up big numbers."

Again, Elder matched it, nailing a fallaway jumper from deep in
the corner over Manuel. Following another 3-pointer by McCants,
Jack broke Elder's personal streak with a layup, and McCants came
back with another jumper.

Finally, Elder capped the spurt with consecutive 3s, giving the
Yellow Jackets the lead for good at 60-57.

At one point, McCants congratulated Elder as they ran up court,
exchanging a quick hand shake with his rival.

"It was just both of us out there competing," Elder said. "We
both have a lot of respect for one another, and we have played
against each other before, so we know how to step up our games."

Georgia Tech cruised from there, thanks to a technical foul on
Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.

He went on the court to protest a foul that wasn't called on a
drive by Scott.

"We got frustrated, I did too much yelling," said Williams,
who's in his first season at his alma mater. "It's my first
technical back in the ACC, and I wish I was going to be able to say
more if I was going to get a technical."

Bynum made both free throws and Isma'il Muhammad completed the
ensuing possession for Georgia Tech with a powerful, one-handed
dunk off a rebound, sending the capacity crowd into a frenzy.

"I'll tell you what, in seven years as a head coach, I've never
been so caught off guard," Hewitt said of the dunk. "He came out
of nowhere. You don't what to hear what I said."

The Yellow Jackets went 12-of-14 from the line to close it out.