Georgia Tech sends Carolina home on Jack's jumper at :01.4

His 17-footer eliminates North Carolina, 83-82, sets up date with Duke

Acc Tournament

College Basketball

March 13, 2004|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Jarrett Jack, a point guard from Fort Washington in Prince George's County who made prep stops at four schools before he landed at Georgia Tech, took the most memorable journey of his well-traveled basketball career yesterday afternoon.

An instant classic of a quarterfinal in the 51st annual Atlantic Coast Conference tournament climaxed when Jack buried North Carolina under a 17-foot jump shot with 1.4 seconds left. After the Yellow Jackets' 83-82 victory at the Greensboro Coliseum was secure, Jack jogged over to the Tar Heels' fan section and made one more statement.

What did he say?

"I was just happy the shot went in," he said. "I was just saying, thank God it went in."

That quote may have been the first time Jack backed off all day.

A third-team All-ACC selection, Jack will lead No. 14 Georgia Tech (23-8) against five-time defending champion Duke and Chris Duhon, his first cousin, in today's semifinals. These Yellow Jackets are quite comfortable on Tobacco Road, as they won by eight at Durham on March 3.

No. 16 North Carolina (18-10) will go from cursing Georgia Tech to cheering it. The Tar Heels have a record 15 ACC titles, but the Blue Devils are closing fast with 14.

Earlier this week, North Carolina coach Roy Williams stated the obvious when he said that the ACC tournament isn't the life-and-death affair it used to be, when only the winner went to the NCAA tournament. He likened it to the region's biggest cocktail party, and Jack turned it into happy hour for the Yellow Jackets.

Jack, whose prep stops included DeMatha, St. Vincent, Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham and Worcester (Mass.) Academy, had 17 points, six assists and no turnovers.

"That's as good a game as I've seen him play here," coach Paul Hewitt said.

The game was what you expect from a fourth (Georgia Tech) and fifth seed.

The Yellow Jackets assumed control with a 10-0 run early in the second half. They headed into the final six minutes with a 73-62 lead and the look of a team headed to San Antonio, the site of next month's Final Four. Tech stopped attacking, however, and the Tar Heels forgot about their foul trouble and let their three-headed sophomore monster take over.

Center Sean May fueled an 8-0 spurt, and point guard Raymond Felton dropped in a pair of three-pointers before he fed David Noel in transition for a 79-77 lead. The Tar Heels took two more leads, the last when May hit one of two free throws with 9.8 seconds left.

After several stoppages, North Carolina's defensive switches backfired and Jack came wide open a step above the free-throw line.

While Felton, May and Rashad McCants combined for all but 10 of North Carolina's points - Southern High grad Melvin Scott was 0-for-4 at the starting shooting guard spot - Georgia Tech's balance prevailed.

Luke Schenscher, the 7-foot-1 junior from Australia, negated May with 17 points and 17 rebounds, a career high by five. Besides Jack, three other Yellow Jackets scored in double figures, as Hewitt's bench outscored Williams' 19-4.

"It's hard, I feel like I've been congratulating people for big shots all year," Williams said. "We didn't do a good enough job defensively to get somebody in Jarrett Jack's face," Williams said. "I'm proud of the way my team came back, but it's getting old hat, congratulating everybody."

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