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Perhaps ACC Really Doesn't Know Jack

Georgia Tech Coach Believes His Junior Guard Is Underrated

By Mark Schlabach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 29, 2005; Page D09

ATLANTA, Jan. 28 -- No one disputes that Wake Forest's Chris Paul and North Carolina's Raymond Felton are two of the country's best point guards. Georgia Tech Coach Paul Hewitt thinks his junior point guard, Jarrett Jack, should be included in that group, and the opinions that matter most to Hewitt are those belonging to referees.

Jack, a Fort Washington native who played one season at DeMatha, continues to make his case as one of the nation's most underrated players, dominating Paul during Georgia Tech's 102-101 overtime victory over No. 5 Wake Forest on Thursday night.

_____North Carolina at Virginia_____

Where: University Hall, Charlottesville.

When: Noon.

Records: Tar Heels 16-2, 5-1 ACC; Cavaliers 10-7, 1-6.


Radio: WTNT-570.

Agenda Change: The Tar Heels have dropped seven of their past 10 meetings with the Cavaliers, including five straight in Charlottesville. North Carolina will try to end that trend today with its loaded lineup of Rashad McCants, Raymond Felton, Sean May, Jawad Williams and freshman standout Marvin Williams. The Tar Heels average 91.7 points, best in the conference.

Giving It Away: In Thursday's 79-73 loss at Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers committed 22 turnovers, 16 more than their previous game against Clemson. It could get worse.

The Tar Heels lead the ACC in steals, averaging about 11 per game.

The Cavaliers also will need to make their free throws; they missed 7 of 17 attempts Thursday night.

-- Michael Arkush

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Jack had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists as the No. 22 Yellow Jackets ended a three-game losing streak in thrilling fashion.

As Georgia Tech prepares to play at Maryland on Sunday, Hewitt again wonders whether Jack will be afforded the same respect that Terrapins point guard John Gilchrist receives from outsiders, mainly officials.

"I think Jarrett Jack is an outstanding player," Hewitt said. "I'm not sure that when a player as good as Jarrett does some of the things he does, like getting knocked off balance or stumbling, I'm just not sure he's doing that all on his own.

"I'd just like to see a kid who has established himself as one of the better players in the league be treated as such. Chris Paul is a great player. But when Jarrett takes a shot and it hits the side of the backboard, he's too good for that. When he's dribbling the ball in the middle of the floor and falls down, I've got to think something is there."

The Demon Deacons certainly know what Jack is capable of doing. He helped the Yellow Jackets hold Paul scoreless during the first 29 minutes 50 seconds Thursday and made the game-winning foul shots with 4.4 seconds left in overtime. When Tech was leading 28-16 midway through the first half, Paul turned his back while Jack was attempting to throw an inbounds pass from under the Yellow Jackets' basket. Jack threw the ball off Paul's back, caught the deflection, drove for a layup and was fouled. Later, with Tech leading 62-51, Jack crossed over his dribble near the foul line, momentarily freezing Paul, and drove the left side for an easy layup. Jack then forced Paul to dribble the ball off his leg before crossing midcourt.

Jack "put us on his back and took us to the Elite Eight and the Final Four last year," Hewitt said. "I think you measure point guards in what they've won. He took us to the [NCAA tournament] championship game."

Hewitt is asking more and more of Jack lately, because leading scorer B.J. Elder strained his left hamstring in a 70-68 overtime loss at Kansas on Jan. 1. Elder, who was averaging 13.2 points, isn't expected to return for at least another week.

Jack has averaged 20 points in the last seven games, and guard Will Bynum has scored 58 in the last two, including a career-high 30 against the Demon Deacons.

But without Elder on the perimeter, and with center Luke Schenscher struggling and freshmen RaSean Dickey and Anthony Morrow still maturing, Jack and Bynum are attracting most of the defensive attention.

"A lot more teams are sagging out on me, trying to prevent me from penetrating," Jack said. "Will has done a good job picking up the scoring. It has been a lot tougher without B.J. out there."

The Yellow Jackets lost four of six games before upsetting the Demon Deacons. Georgia Tech lost by 22 points at North Carolina, eight at N.C. State and then lost at home, 70-69, to Virginia Tech on Jan. 22. Senior forward Ismail Muhammad missed two foul shots with 5.5 seconds left against the Hokies, and two other players missed tip-ins that would have won the game after his second miss.

"This team has a lot of pride," Hewitt said. "This season is long from over.

"Regardless of what happens with this team, I can tell you right now, they have a lot of pride. They're going to come at you and come at you and come at you until you beat them. In this league, you've got to play like that every night."

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