Former Hoya Causey Burns Hokies With 30

Georgia Tech's Matt Causey, passing over Jeff Allen, had been averaging only five points this season. He was at Georgetown four years ago.
Georgia Tech's Matt Causey, passing over Jeff Allen, had been averaging only five points this season. He was at Georgetown four years ago. (By Tami Chappell -- Associated Press)
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By Adam Kilgore
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 20, 2008

ATLANTA, Jan. 19 -- Seth Greenberg spent only a few moments dwelling on Matt Causey during his Georgia Tech scouting report this week. He told his Virginia Tech players Causey could shoot well, that he rarely drove, and little else. Why waste the time? Causey averaged just five points, and he does not start. No one, not even Causey, foresaw him making much of an impact in Saturday's game.

"I definitely didn't expect to come out and have 30," Causey said.

In their 81-70 loss to Georgia Tech, the Hokies could not overcome a season-high 24 turnovers and untimely shooting droughts. Most of all, they fell because of the 30 points Georgia Tech received from Causey, a 6-foot guard without any cartilage in his left knee playing for his third college team.

Causey, who played his freshman season for Georgetown before transferring to Division II North Georgia, made 9 of 14 shots, including 7 of 12 three-point attempts, in just 22 minutes off the bench. He became the fourth player to score 30 points in an ACC game this season, compiling the league's most improbable stat line yet.

"The guy's been in college about 15 years," Greenberg said. "I'm not sure Paul [Hewitt, Georgia Tech's coach], when he went into his game plan, said, 'We'll get 30 from Causey and we'll win by 10.' "

The Hokies (11-7, 2-2) pressured guards Lewis Clinch and Anthony Morrow on the wing and double-teamed the Yellow Jackets' post players, allowing Causey open shots.

"He was basically playing H-O-R-S-E," Greenberg said.

While Causey made three-pointers, the Hokies stagnated, scoring just seven points in the final 10 minutes of the first half. As the Yellow Jackets (8-9, 1-3) jogged into their locker room carrying a 16-point lead, Greenberg crouched and stared at the court, motionless.

But he knew the Hokies had shown resiliency before, erasing a nine-point lead against Virginia and a five-point deficit against Maryland in their first two ACC victories.

"We've been down before," Greenberg told his team. "So this is nothing."

Virginia Tech responded. Malcolm Delaney drilled two three-pointers. Deron Washington burst through the lane and dunked over Gani Lawal, a highlight that likely was added to Washington's YouTube collection before the game even finished.

In the first 3 minutes 13 seconds of the second half, the Hokies outscored Georgia Tech 13-0, suddenly creeping within three points. With 8:25 remaining, Delaney made another three-pointer to tie the score at 55.

Shortly thereafter came the game's pivotal sequence. With the Hokies down two, A.D. Vassallo launched an open three-pointer. The ball rimmed out, and Georgia Tech rushed down the court. Causey stuck a three, and what could have been a one-point Hokies lead became a five-point deficit.

The Hokies fully lost control once freshman forward Jeff Allen fouled out with 4:32 remaining.

"We didn't really have a low-post presence," Delaney said.

On his walk to the Hokies bench, Allen nudged referee Zelton Steed, with whom Allen had exchanged words moments earlier. Steed immediately ejected Allen.

Greenberg did not see the incident or speak to Steed, so he relied on Allen's account: "He told me he was pulling the shirt out of his jersey; he didn't see the guy right away," Greenberg said. "He told me he said, 'Excuse me,' when they bumped."

Allen, who scored 13 points in 24 minutes, was not made available to comment.

After Allen's departure and the subsequent Georgia Tech free throws, the Yellow Jackets took a 10-point lead, and the game became a coronation for Causey.

He figured he would play four years at Georgetown when he committed to play for Craig Esherick in 2003. But his first day on campus, he shredded the cartilage in his left knee and, for the third time, underwent surgery. He played 28 games that season, anyway. Causey liked John Thompson III but worried how much his injury would limit playing time.

After averaging more than 23 points for two years at North Georgia, Causey contacted as many teams as he could until Georgia Tech finally said yes.

Like everyone else, the Yellow Jackets never could have known how much they would need him, at least for one game.

"Just thank goodness," Hewitt said, "for Matt Causey."

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