Sunday , Mar , 28 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Yellow Jackets buzz into Final Four

St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) – Jarrett Jack stepped up and scored a career-
high 29 points, helping Georgia Tech earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament
Final Four with a 79-71 overtime victory over Kansas at the Edward Jones Dome.

Despite receiving a limited contribution from leading scorer B.J. Elder due to
an ankle injury, the Yellow Jackets emerged victorious from the St. Louis
bracket to earn their first trip to the Final Four since 1990.

Third-seeded Georgia Tech (27-9) now moves on to face Oklahoma State, the
second seed from the East Rutherford bracket, in a national semifinal contest
Saturday in San Antonio.

Guard Will Bynum made the play of the game when he drained a three-pointer
from the top of the key that broke a tie and put the Yellow Jackets ahead for
good with 1:53 remaining in the extra session. After a missed three by the
Jayhawks’ Michael Lee, Jack then pushed the margin to 76-71 with two free

“He had 29 points? That’s big,” Bynum said of his backcourt mate. “I never saw
him play like that.”

Georgia Tech proceeded to close out the game from the line as it held Kansas
scoreless over the final 2:15 of the contest. The Yellow Jackets scored the
final eight points to advance.

“Today is Jarrett Jack’s day. He came here because he loved Georgia Tech’s
point guard tradition,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt explained of Jack
following in the footsteps of Mark Price, Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury.

“People have asked me all year to compare him to the other great point guards.
I said, ‘We can’t compare him until he takes a team to the Final Four.’ But
now I think we can compare him to those great guys.”

J.R. Giddens, who finished with 15 points, hit a huge three-pointer that tied
the game with 17 seconds remaining in regulation, but it was not enough to
move Kansas (24-9) into its third straight Final Four. Keith Langford also
finished with 15 points before fouling out in overtime for the fourth-seeded
Jayhawks, whose relentless comeback attempts fell just short.

Kansas, which was expected to dominate the paint with Wayne Simien (11 points
and 11 rebounds) and Jeff Graves (four points and seven boards) doing damage
down low, was outrebounded 41-38 in the game. Georgia Tech’s post players of
Luke Schenscher (15 points) and Clarence Moore (14) also surprisingly
outscored the Jayhawks big men.

“Clarence did a a great job for us,” Jack said. We have a lot of guys on this
team who can step up and play.”

The Yellow Jackets, who led most of the way, created some space with seven
straight points to take a 65-58 lead with just under four minutes remaining in
regulation. Georgia Tech closed the run with baskets by Schenscher and fellow
big man Anthony McHenry.

Kansas still had some gas left in its tank, using five consecutive points from
Langford to reduce the deficit to 65-63 with 1:13 remaining. Aaron Miles
then inexplicably fouled Jack 40-feet from the basket with 40 seconds
remaining and the shot clock down to around 10 seconds. Jack, who was a
perfect 6-for-6 from the line up to that point, hit just 1-of-2.

“We made some pretty bone-headed plays, myself included,” Miles stated.

Giddens, a freshman, then came up with the huge three-pointer on Kansas’
second shot of its ensuing possession, tying the game at 66-66 with 16.2
seconds left in regulation. Marvin Lewis and Bynum missed potential game-
winning shots for Georgia Tech as time expired.

“It was one of those games where you had to get a break to win the game and
that break just never materialized,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “The break
we got was tying the game and sending it to overtime.”

The Jayhawks never led in the first half as their two top scorers, Simien and
Langford, combined for just four points. They still trailed at the break by
just five, 36-31.

Simien came to life early in the second half and, after he scored five points
during an 8-0 run, Kansas grabbed it first lead of the contest at 43-42 with
13:04 left.

The game then remained fairly close, with Georgia Tech ahead most of the time,
over the next eight minutes.

Kansas’ early-game jitters and Georgia Tech’s matchup zone attributed to some
shaky shooting for the Jayhawks (2-for-18) to start the contest. The Yellow
Jackets took advantage and built a 13-6 lead just over seven minutes into the

The Jayhawks, though, settled down and scored the next seven points, the final
five by Giddens, to even the score. Georgia Tech was quick to answer, ripping
off an 11-0 run over the next 2:26 to grab a 24-13 advantage with just over
nine minutes to play in the half. The Yellow Jackets received some offensive
production from a surprising source during the spurt, with Moore pouring in
seven speedy points.

“Coach (Hewitt) told me to be focused and ready,” Moore said.

The see-saw battle continued with Kansas drawing within 26-24 before Georgia
Tech posted the next five points to push the margin back up to seven. Again
the Jayhawks responded, closing the gap to 32-31 with just under two minutes
left in the half.

The Yellow Jackets, though, scored the final two baskets of the first half and
went into the locker room with a five-point advantage.

Elder, who suffered the sprained ankle early in the win over Nevada, tried to
give it a go but was clearly hobbled. He played nine ineffective minutes in
the first half and did not score. His only shot from the left corner hit off
the side of the backboard.

Elder finished the game 0-for-2 from the field with no points in 12 minutes.