WASHINGTON (AP) -- Foul. Miss. Turnover. Foul. Miss. Miss. Could
this Georgia Tech team really be the one that was ranked No. 3 in
the country at the start of the season?
After 15 minutes of painful-to-watch basketball, the good Yellow
Jackets finally emerged, going on a 20-2 run to take control and
ruin Virginia Tech's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament debut
with a 73-54 victory in Friday's quarterfinals.
"Thirteen first-half turnovers," Georgia Tech coach Paul
Hewitt said. "But some of that might have been first-day jitters
for a couple of our young guys. I thought we settled down in the
second half and moved the ball well."
Well enough to shoot 65 percent in the second half and break a
frustrating streak of inconsistency. Georgia Tech's previous 12
games? Lose. Win. Lose. Win. Lose. Win. Lose. Win. Lose. Win. Lose.
Win. It was enough to raise some doubt as to whether last year's
national runner-up would return to the NCAA Tournament.
"We've been struggling with trying to put wins together," said
guard Jarrett Jack, who scored 13 points. "I think there's been
certain games that we've controlled the majority of and let slip
through our fingers. Hopefully this weekend we can get some
momentum and put some wins together."
Georgia Tech (18-10), seeded fifth, will face top-seeded North
Carolina in Saturday's semifinals. The Tar Heels, who defeated
Clemson 88-81 in Friday's opener, beat Georgia Tech 91-69 at Chapel
Hill on Jan. 12 in the teams' only meeting during the regular
"I don't know if this win put us in" the NCAA Tournament,
Hewitt said. "We have a chance to take all doubt out of the
equation. Our mind-set was to come in and 'Let's win this first
game' and see if we can keep it going through the weekend so we
don't have to worry about talk about bubble and things like that."
B.J. Elder scored 19 points, and Will Bynum added 13. The Yellow
Jackets overcame 22 turnovers and held the Hokies to 37 percent
shooting, including an 0-for-9 stretch to open the second half that
gave Georgia Tech a double-digit lead it never relinquished.
Carlos Dixon scored 12 points to lead the fourth-seeded Hokies
(15-13), who finished with a surprising 8-8 conference record in
their first ACC season. But Virginia Tech's first appearance in the
league's biggest show resulted in nearly more turnovers (18) than
field goals (19). Tech was also hurt by off nights from Zabian
Dowdell (1-for-7), Deron Washington (1-for-6) and Coleman Collins
"I'm extremely disappointed with the way we represented
ourselves today," coach Seth Greenberg said. "That was not
reflective of the last seven months of the hard work that we've put
in. We picked a bad night to play the way we did. Georgia Tech,
obviously, was a part of that, but we just didn't play at the level
that we needed to play at to be successful."
Dowdell, who led the ACC in 3-point shooting percentage in the
regular season, missed all three of his long-range attempts and
finished with just six points, ending a 14-game streak in double
Both teams like to keep the score low, and they sure did a good
job of that in a jittery first half that included more combined
turnovers (23) than field goals (20). Jack and Bynum both picked up
two early fouls, and Dowdell went 0-for-5 from the field in the
Down by seven early, the Hokies went on a 10-0 run that was so
tepid that their fans barely seemed to notice. The Yellow Jackets
responded with a 10-0 spurt of their own, including back-to-back
3-pointers by Jack and Elder, the start of the 20-2 run that
continued into the second half.
Virginia Tech got as close a 57-43 with 6:30 to play, but
Georgia Tech sealed the game with a 9-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer
by Bynum, to push the lead to 23 points.
"The start of the second half we did not need to play with a
sense of urgency and a toughness that you need to play with to beat
a team as good as Georgia Tech," Greenberg said. "That shouldn't
take away from what we did this year. No one expected us to be in
this game, no one expected us to be competitive in this league, and
that's probably why it hurts so much."