Thursday, March 20, 2003

Ohio St. loses in NIT

Georgia Tech beats Buckeyes 72-58

By George Henry
The Associated Press

ATLANTA - Jarrett Jack knew what awaited him and his Georgia Tech teammates at halftime Wednesday night. Coach Paul Hewitt would soon be praising Ohio State and admonishing the Yellow Jackets.

"They were getting all the loose balls," Jack said. "One of the things we need to do if we want to win is get loose balls and limit them to one shot. That's what we did in the second half."

Led by 18 points from ACC rookie of the year Chris Bosh, Georgia Tech beat the Buckeyes 72-58 in the first round of the NIT.

The Yellow Jackets (15-14) will play the Iowa-Iowa State winner in the second round early next week, though the NIT won't announce a date and time until the Hawkeyes and Cyclones finish playing Friday night.

B.J. Elder added 12 points, and Jack handed out a game-high nine assists for Georgia Tech.

Ohio State (17-15), which lost 72-59 to No. 13 Illinois in the Big Ten tournament championship Sunday, was playing its first game without Zach Williams. The junior forward was suspended for arguing with the Buckeyes' coaching staff against the Illini.

Coach Jim O'Brien was concerned Georgia Tech's full-court press would wear down an Ohio State team that played for four straight days last week.

"I thought we handled the pressure pretty well, but sometimes the pressure is effective not only if you make steals, but get the tempo going," O'Brien said. "I didn't like the tempo of the game. I thought the game was going way too fast for us in the first half, and it really took its toll on us in the second half."

Two front-line starters, Shun Jenkins and Velimir Radinovic, fouled out for Ohio State as the second half was winding down. Without them, the Buckeyes couldn't overcome a size disadvantage inside.

Sean Connolly led the Buckeyes with 16 points, and Brent Darby had 12. The second half was a nightmare for the two guards, who were a combined 2-for-13 from the floor. Ohio State shot 26.7 after leading 35-34 at halftime.

Georgia Tech, coming off a 71-65 loss to North Carolina State in the first round of the ACC tournament, broke the game open after Matt Sylvester's layup cut the Yellow Jackets' lead to 48-47 with 12:13 remaining.

Ismai'il Muhammad ended an 18-4 run nearly eight minutes later with a reverse jam that put Georgia Tech ahead 66-51.

Freshman forward Theodis Tarver made his first career start, scoring nine points for the Yellow Jackets. Tarver replaced center Luke Schenscher in the lineup. Schenscher, who played only 57 seconds Friday, stayed on the bench the entire game.

Ohio State came in with a 10-1 record and eight straight wins against the Yellow Jackets, their last matchup coming in the second round of the 1991 NCAA tournament, when Ohio State won 65-61.

Bosh hit all three of his field-goal shots and pulled down five of his seven rebounds in the second half.

"The thing that's been most impressive to me about Chris is that he's such an intelligent player," Hewitt said. "When people have made adjustments to slow him down, he's always had an answer. When people from him, he's stealing and catching high-low passes, or he steps out of the perimeter. His ability to shoot the ball makes him a tough guy to cover."

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