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Revamped Jackets back on track

Associated Press
Published January 16, 2004

ATLANTA - Isma'il Muhammad knocked the ball away near the baseline but couldn't come up with the steal. He didn't stop there, chasing a Virginia player all the way to the midcourt line, where the relentless hounding finally caused a turnover.

Muhammad clapped and smiled. Georgia Tech was back to its old ways.

The 12th-ranked Yellow Jackets, inserting Muhammad and two other new starters into the lineup, snapped a two-game skid with a 75-57 victory over Virginia on Thursday night.

"I think the team fed off our energy," Muhammad said. "We had the same feeling we had back when we were 12-0."

The Yellow Jackets (13-2, 1-1 ACC) bounced back from losses at Georgia and North Carolina, which put a damper on the best start in school history.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt shook up his lineup, giving Muhammad, Clarence Moore and Will Bynum their first starts of the season.

Those three had been providing a spark off the bench. Hewitt wanted them to make an impact from the beginning, mindful of the Yellow Jackets' sluggish starts the past two games.

"Certainly Will and Isma'il, with their energy early in the game, got us off to a pretty good start," Hewitt said. "That's what I was concerned about. The last two games, we started out pretty passive and weren't attacking."

The changes were rather startling. Marvin Lewis came off the bench for the fifth time in 107 career games. B.J. Elder had started 42 of 44 games the past two seasons.

"It's different," Lewis said. "But Coach always tells us it's not who starts, it's who finishes."

It all seemed to work. Muhammad sparked the Yellow Jackets in the first half with 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting. Lewis led the Yellow Jackets with 17 points, hitting three 3-pointers. Elder scored 16 in 19 minutes before fouling out.

"I told them there are going to be times when we shuffle the lineup around," Hewitt said. "Any combination of those guys can start. So that wasn't a surprise, and I think that's one of the reasons Marvin and B.J. handled it so well."

Virginia (10-4, 0-3) began the season with eight straight wins but has struggled since getting into the tougher part of its schedule.

"We've got to be more physical," coach Pete Gillen said. "That's a choice. We're just not as aggressive as we need to be."

Georgia Tech focused on shutting off the inside, having been burned by Georgia's Jonas Hayes (25 points) and North Carolina's Sean May (28)

Virginia center Elton Brown was hounded with double teams and a sagging perimeter defense, which held him to 10 points. Georgia Tech dominated the lane, outscoring the Cavaliers 34-16.

"The whole game I saw people coming at me," Brown said. "I couldn't even take bad shots with four guys on me."

Virginia started quickly, doing nearly all its scoring from outside. The Cavaliers made seven of their first eight 3-pointers.

It didn't last: Virginia missed its final 13 3-pointers.

The Cavaliers also had trouble handling the ball against Georgia Tech's intense pressure, committing 12 turnovers in the first half and 21 overall.

NO. 2 DUKE 76, N.C. STATE 57: J.J. Redick scored 20 and Daniel Ewing 18 to lift the Blue Devils.

Luol Deng added 11 points for Duke (13-1, 3-0 ACC), which has won 10 straight and 35 in a row at home.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski earned his 676th win to pass Louisville's Denny Crum for 17th on the Division I list. Krzyzewski, in his 24th season at Duke, also earned his 300th win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

NO. 8 LOUISVILLE 76, ECU 66: Taquan Dean scored 16, and the visiting Cardinals' swarming defense forced 16 turnovers.

Larry O'Bannon also had 16 points for Louisville (12-1, 3-0 C-USA), which won its 12th consecutive game and fifth straight by double digits. The Cardinals are second nationally in scoring margin at more than 23 points.

Derrick Wiley scored 23 for the Pirates (8-5, 0-3), who lost their ninth consecutive conference game dating to last season.

NO. 16 GONZAGA 92, SAN FRAN 50: Blake Stepp scored 23 in the first half on 9-for-9 shooting, and the host Bulldogs cruised.

Stepp had five 3-pointers as Gonzaga (13-2, 3-0 West Coast) used a 33-2 run to build a 55-16 halftime lead and coast to its sixth straight win.

San Francisco (10-8, 0-2) was 6-of-23 from the field (26 percent) in the first half. It was the Dons' 15th consecutive loss at Gonzaga and their most lopsided loss in the series.

C-USA

ECU: Gabriel Mikulas, the Pirates' second-leading scorer and rebounder, broke his right arm in practice and will miss the rest of the season, ending the senior's collegiate career.

Nation

UCLA 66, ARIZ. ST. 58: T.J. Cummings had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and the host Bruins started 5-0 in the Pac-10 for the first time in nine years. UCLA (9-3) took over first place from idle Stanford. Arizona State (6-7, 0-4) lost its fifth straight.

OREGON 84, WASHINGTON 74: Luke Jackson scored 24 and guard James Davis 19 off the bench to spark the host Ducks (7-4, 2-2 Pac-10). The Huskies (5-8, 0-5) have lost five straight.

BIRD HONORED: Indiana State will retire Larry Bird's No. 33 25 years after the Hall of Famer led the Sycamores to the national championship game. The Terre Haute, Ind., school plans to hold a ceremony during halftime Feb. 28 against Northern Iowa.
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