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College basketball

Minus top weapon, Georgia Tech still fends off stubborn Nevada

By Associated Press
Published March 27, 2004

ST. LOUIS - Georgia Tech is good enough that it didn't need its leading scorer to reach the region finals of the NCAA Tournament.

Marvin Lewis had 23 points and Will Bynum made a huge layup with 65 seconds left to give the Yellow Jackets a 72-67 victory over Nevada on Friday night in the St. Louis Region semifinals.

The third-seeded Yellow Jackets (26-9) are in the region finals for the third time in school history and the first since 1990. They play fourth-seeded Kansas in the region final Sunday.

The 10th-seeded Wolf Pack (25-9) knocked off Michigan State and routed Gonzaga to make the round of 16, and it seemed as if another upset was in the making early, especially with Georgia Tech forced to play without B.J. Elder.

Elder, who is averaging 16.2 points, sprained his right ankle less than two minutes into the game when Nevada's Kirk Snyder landed on it.

The Wolf Pack led by as much as eight in the first half. But it cooled off in the second, and Georgia Tech's stingy defense kicked in. The Wolf Pack shot 7-of-33 in the second half, and Snyder was 2-of-12. Snyder didn't score in the half until there were 61/2 minutes left.

Todd Okeson, who had 11 points in the first half, was 1-of-10 in the second and missed all five 3-pointers.

Lewis made back-to-back 3-pointers to give Georgia Tech a 63-58 lead, its largest of the game, with 5:20 left. But Snyder, quiet most of the half, came back big. His 3-pointer with 3:26 left pulled the Wolf Pack within 67-65, and he made two free throws 90 seconds later to tie the score.

Then Bynum, the team's 6-foot spark plug, came up with the play of the night.

Driving hard to the basket, he leaped over Okeson, knocking him over while making the layup. Bynum looked as if he might land on his head, but he managed to right himself while the ball swished through the net to give Georgia Tech a 69-67 lead with 1:04 left.

The Wolf Pack was forced to foul, and Lewis missed the first, drawing a loud groan from the vocal Georgia Tech contingent. He made the second, giving the Yellow Jackets a 70-67 lead with 49 seconds left.

Nevada had one last chance, but Okeson missed a long 3-pointer. Clarence Moore was fouled, and he made the first to seal the victory.

[Last modified March 27, 2004, 02:10:29]

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