March 6, 2004
By KEITH PARSONS
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA – Marvin Lewis almost always took a back seat to a teammate this season, with leading scorer B.J. Elder or high-flying Isma’il Muhammad getting most of the attention.
In the final home game of his college career, Lewis finally stood out.
He scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half and tied a season high with five 3-pointers, helping No. 19 Georgia Tech hold off Florida State 63-60 Saturday.
Jarrett Jack added 18 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and six assists for the Yellow Jackets (22-8, 9-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), including two free throws with 33.5 seconds left to seal it.
But the effort from Lewis in the second half helped them rally for their third straight victory.
“Jack was a big factor, but the guy that gave us some breathing room was Marvin Lewis,” Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. “He really hit some big shots. I’m thrilled for him to go out on Senior Day the way he did.”
Lewis, three points short of his season best, played for the first time in front of his grandmother, 85-year-old Mary Lewis. She joined his parents and younger sister in the crowd, and he gave them plenty to watch.
“I just tried to take it as a regular game,” he said. “If you get into all the emotion, you can struggle. I just tried to maintain an even keel.”
Adam Waleskowski and Anthony Richardson each had 12 points for the Seminoles (18-12, 6-10), who lost their fourth straight and finished 0-8 on the road in the ACC. Despite five victories over Top 25 teams, they likely need a run in the conference tournament to qualify for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1993.
“I knew going into the game that as a team we were entering uncharted waters with the importance of this game,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. “There’s a certain mind-set that you have to get into to win on the road. I was hoping, with our backs against the wall, we’d be able to find it.”
Tim Pickett, the fifth-leading scorer in the conference at 16.5 points a game, finished with only 10 points, his lowest total in four games. He fouled out with 6:43 left and played with an injury to his right ankle.
“We have to keep our heads up,” Pickett said. “You get tired of these close losses. As hard as we play, we shouldn’t be losing close games like this.”
Georgia Tech, coming off an upset victory over No. 3 Duke, came back behind Lewis. He scored 14 points in the first 11:38 of the period, including four 3-pointers, and helped the Yellow Jackets take their first lead since the first half.
“This was a test of our will, our character,” Lewis said. “Offensively, we weren’t doing so well, but defensively, we maintained our intensity. That’s going to win us some games.”
Florida State took its final lead on a 3 by Nate Johnson with 9:26 left, and he made a layup about six minutes later to tie it for the final time at 56.
But Anthony McHenry, an offensively challenged player known mostly for his defense, gave the Yellow Jackets the lead for good on a powerful dunk after a nifty feed by Jack, and the Seminoles missed their final five shots to lose for the sixth time in their last eight games.
“I give Georgia Tech a lot of credit, but at the same time, our ineptness on defense was obvious,” Hamilton said. “It’s very tough for me to find positive things about this game. Right now, it feels like shot after shot just went in for them.”
Georgia Tech played without backup point guard Will Bynum (hip pointer), and his absence was felt in the first half when Jack picked up two quick fouls.
“It was actually a surprise to me that Will didn’t play,” Jack said. “Coach told me after the shoot around that I was going to have to go for the long haul. I played 37 minutes, more than I’m used to, and I got tired, but I played through it.”
With Jack out, Elder shifted over to run the offense, a role he struggled with last season, and Florida State took advantage.
A 22-10 run in the first half gave the Seminoles their seven-point lead, thanks to tough defense from Pickett. He had six steals in only 11 minutes – he picked up his second foul with about seven minutes left in the half – and harassed Elder and the other perimeter players for Georgia Tech.
Theodis Tarver had a three-point play late in the half to get the Yellow Jackets within four, setting up the rally in the second half.