Extra work worth it to Georgia Tech

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 29, 2004

ST. LOUIS - Even if it takes a little something extra, Georgia Tech finds a way to get it done.

And the Yellow Jackets got a sweet reward for their perseverance: their second trip to the Final Four and their first since 1990.

With leading scorer B.J. Elder hobbled by a badly sprained ankle, Jarrett Jack scored a career-high 29 points to lift the Yellow Jackets to a 79-71 victory over Kansas in overtime of the St. Louis Regional championship Sunday.

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No team has had more tight games on its road to the Final Four than the third-seeded Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech's first three games were decided by a total of 13 points.

Solid all day, Jack was unstoppable in overtime. After little Will Bynum hit a 3 to break a 71-all tie, Jack went 4-for-4 from the line in the last 47 seconds to seal the win.

Jack finished 8-of-12 from the floor, and also had nine rebounds and six assists. Luke Schenscher added 15 points and Clarence Moore had 14 for the Yellow Jackets (27-9).

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, coach Paul Hewitt threw his hands in the air in triumph and a wide grin spread across his face. The Yellow Jackets ran onto the court when the buzzer sounded and piled together for a group hug. Elder's teammates tried to lift him up, but they couldn't get him off the ground as the impromptu mosh pit bopped around.

The Yellow Jackets will now face second-seeded Oklahoma State on Saturday in San Antonio.

Kansas (24-9) could do nothing but watch the celebration with disappointment, denied a third straight trip to the Final Four.

But these Jayhawks didn't play like a Final Four team. They shot 40 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 15 times. Wayne Simien, who'd been averaging 20 points in the tournament, was held to 11 on 4-of-14 shooting. Keith Langford scored 15 on 4-of-11 before fouling out in overtime.

It was the Jayhawks' first loss in a regional final since March 26, 1996, when they lost to Syracuse.

Though Georgia Tech was seeded one spot better, it came into the game as an underdog. The Jayhawks had the experience and the momentum, having won their first three tournament games by 22 points.

They even had a domeful of fans, playing just five hours away from their campus in Lawrence, Kan.

As if that wasn't enough, the Yellow Jackets were playing with a gimpy Elder. Elder, who averaged a team-high 15.8 points, suffered a severely sprained ankle in Friday night's regional when Nevada's Kirk Snyder fell on him.