Georgia Tech Cruises Past Virginia Tech Into ACC Semifinals
March 11, 2005
By JOSEPH WHITE
WASHINGTON (AP) - B.J. Elder scored 19 points, Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum had 13 apiece, and Georgia Tech pulled away at the start of the second half to ruin Virginia Tech's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament debut with a 73-54 victory Friday.
Recovering from a slow start, the Yellow Jackets finally displayed the flair and defense that had them ranked in the Top 10 at the start of the season. They 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.
The Yellow Jackets 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 season.
Georgia Tech (18-10), seeded fifth, overcame 22 turnovers to end a streak of 12 games in which they had alternated wins and losses, a show of inconsistency that had placed some doubt as to whether last year's national runner-up would return to the NCAA tournament.
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. Virginia Tech nearly had more turnovers (18) than field goals (19) and was hurt by off nights from Zabian Dowdell (1-for-7), Deron Washington (1-for-6) and Coleman Collins (4-for-11).
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 figures.
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 half.
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 a 20-2 run that continued into the second half.
Elder and Jack had combined for 15 points in the run, while Virginia Tech struggled against a Yellow Jacket defense that led the league in opponent's field goal percentage.
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 rout was welcome relief for the Yellow Jackets, whose last six victories were nail-biters decided by eight points or fewer. They hadn't won by double digits since beating Virginia by 23 on Jan. 8.