Dec 3, 2003
By RUSTY MILLER
AP Sports Writer
He certainly can’t describe his own team that way anymore.
Elder and Marvin Lewis combined for nine points in a 13-0 first-half run and Isma’il Muhammad’s high-wire dunk shifted the momentum in the second half to lead No. 13 Georgia Tech over Ohio State 73-53 Wednesday night in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The Yellow Jackets’ defense forced 20 turnovers and held Ohio State to 32.7 percent shooting from the field.
“We feel like we’re a team that can really smother teams defensively,” Hewitt said. “We’ve got a number of guys who can guard multiple positions. We’ve been causing people to turn the ball over pretty well in these first six games.”
It was Ohio State’s worst loss in its six years in Value City Arena, where the Buckeyes came in with a 69-13 record, including 13-3 against ranked opponents.
“We couldn’t guard them on the perimeter,” Ohio State coach Jim O’Brien said. “When we wanted a stop, we couldn’t do it.”
Elder finished with 18 points, Lewis had 15 and Jarrett Jack 14 for the Yellow Jackets (6-0), who matched their best start since 1994-95. Georgia Tech won the Preseason NIT last week, along the way pounding No. 1 Connecticut 77-61 and Texas Tech 85-65.
The Yellow Jackets have four players averaging in double figures, providing untold problems for opponents intent on clamping down on a particular player.
“That’s the way the game should be played,” Hewitt said of his team’s many weapons on offense. With a laugh, he added, “Of course, when you have balanced scoring and you win, guys credit you. When you have balanced scoring and you lose, somebody’s not getting enough shots.”
B. J. Elder drives past Ohio State’s Brandon Fuss-Cheatham during the first half.
The Yellow Jackets’ win was the fifth in six games for the ACC in the challenge. Georgia Tech came in having won just one of four games in the annual head-to-head meetings with the Big Ten, while Ohio State was 1-1.
Ricardo Billings and Velimir Radinovic each scored 12 points and J.J. Sullinger added 10 for Ohio State (2-3).
“The thing that’s disturbing to me, and I take full responsibility for this, is we look like a team that has not been coached a day,” said O’Brien, who has been reduced to whispering for the first two months of the season because of vocal-cord damage sustained during neck surgery. “That’s what’s most embarrassing to me with where we are right now. This was our first home game and I got the sense we were not excited to be playing. I don’t understand that.”
The Yellow Jackets led 10-8 when the Buckeyes didn’t score for 9? minutes, missing all seven of their shots from the field with four turnovers as the lead expanded to 23-8.
Ohio State, down 34-23 at halftime, drew as close as 44-36 when Tony Stockman hit three free throws after he was fouled by Muhammad.
Muhammad, who finished with nine points, took away the momentum the Buckeyes had gained when he dunked while jumping over Billings, and was fouled on the play. Even a partisan crowd of 13,859 oohed and aahed after Muhammad soared in for the three-point play.
“I asked him if he’s trying to get on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays,” Jack said with a laugh. “He’s making regular-occurring appearances. They need to hire him up there.”
Muhammad, averaging 15 points off the bench, then hit a rebound follow to make it 49-36.
He also pinpointed the dunk as a turning point.
“That was when momentum shifted, definitely,” Muhammad said. “Coach Hewitt said anytime I can get a big dunk, go for it because it really deflates the other team.”
Ohio State’s worst previous loss at Value City Arena was 72-58 to Michigan State last March 8. Last season ended with the Buckeyes losing to Georgia Tech 72-58 in the first round of the NIT.
The Buckeyes, winners of 10 of 13 all-time against Georgia Tech, were 2-of-14 on 3s and had four players with at least three turnovers.
The Yellow Jackets have opened the season by outscoring opponents by an average of 22 points.