Dec. 21, 2003
By KEITH PARSONS
AP Sports Writer
B.J. Elder scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half as No. 5 Georgia Tech ran its record to 10-0 with a 79-66 victory over St. John’s, spoiling the debut of interim coach Kevin Clark.
Clark replaced Mike Jarvis, who was fired Friday, only six games into his sixth season. St. John’s (2-5) lost four of its first five games, which hadn’t happened since 1922-23, and even a victory over St. Francis, N.Y., in his final game wasn’t enough to save Jarvis’ job.
The Yellow Jackets (10-0) continued their best start since 1985-86, the last season they were ranked in the top five. They held St. John’s to 40 percent shooting and forced 14 turnovers.
Luke Schenscher and Jarrett Jack each scored 12 points for Georgia Tech. Schenscher added 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double, and Isma’il Muhammad had a career-high 12 rebounds, along with another highlight-reel dunk. Will Bynum provided spark off the bench with six points and five assists.
Elijah Ingram shook off a bloody nose to finish with 21 points for the Red Storm, and Andre Stanley added 15.
St. John’s got within four points midway through the second half on a 3-pointer by Ingram, but the Yellow Jackets slowly pulled away with the help of their pressure defense.
Once he was helped to the bench, the Red Storm had a turnover and two missed shots, and when Jack made two free throws, Georgia Tech took a 54-44 lead.
St. John’s missed six straight shots at one point down the stretch, and a soaring, alley-oop dunk by Isma’il Muhammad made it 67-49 with 5:22 left, and the Red Storm couldn’t recover.
Clark, in his first game ever as a head coach, didn’t make an appearance until just before the national anthem, walking out of the tunnel with Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt.
During the game, he stayed mostly quiet, allowing assistant Dermon Player to shout out most of the instructions.
But Clark also made sure his players competed. Early in the second half, he stepped in when Abe Keita and Kyle Cuffe were arguing during a timeout. He talked individually to each of them, then made them shake hands before they returned to the court.
Jarvis led the Red Storm to the regional finals of the NCAA tournament his first season and they lost in the second round the next year. St. John’s also went to the tournament in 2002, losing in the first round, and the Red Storm won the NIT last season, finishing 21-13 by closing with a 7-1 run after going 2-6 in February.