What was expected to be a showcase for Georgia Tech guard Kenny Anderson was stolen by St. John's forward Malik Sealy and teammate Jason Buchanan. Sealy scored 28 points, 18 in the second half, and Buchanan hit a free throw with 3.7 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Redmen a 73-72 victory last night in the opening game of the ACC-Big East Challenge series at Capital Centre.
Anderson tied the game at 72 with two free throws with 6.2 seconds remaining. Rushing the ball upcourt, Buchanan was fouled near midcourt by freshman Ivano Newbill.
Buchanan sank the first of his two foul shots. Anderson rebounded the missed second shot but time expired before he could get off a shot.
St. John's improved to 4-0. The Yellow Jackets (2-2) were led by Matt Geiger and Malcolm Mackey, who had 16 points apiece. Anderson scored 14.
"All I wanted to do was make the shots that I had been missing in the first half," said Sealy, who made five of eight shots in the first 20 minutes and eight of 10 in the second half. "There are times when you think that the ball is going to go in whenever you shoot; I got that feeling in the second half."
Sealy scored the first 10 points of the second half for St. John's to erase a 36-30 halftime deficit and give his team a 40-39 advantage. The Redmen went on to take a 50-41 lead, but Georgia Tech rallied and forced the extra session when Geiger tipped in a shot by Anderson at the buzzer.
Sealy missed the second free throw in a one-and-one situation with six seconds left in regulation, giving the Yellow Jackets a chance to tie.
The game gave Anderson, the nation's most-heralded freshman a year ago, a chance to perform against a team from his native New York before a national televison audience. But both he and his teammates struggled to find rhythm on offense in the second half.
Georgia Tech scored eight points in the first 14 minutes of the second half. After a tip-in by Malcolm Mackey with 10:30 remaining, the Yellow Jackets didn't get another field goal until the 4:55 mark.
Anderson, who was averaging 18.7 points in Georgia Tech's first three games, was two for 14 from the field in the first 16 minutes.
In the final moments, however, the quicksilver guard showed the crowd and a sizable contingent of NBA scouts in attendance why he's regarded as a possible No. 1 draft pick.
An improbably banked three-point shot from the top of the key with 2:41 remaining moved the Yellow Jackets to within 56-53. After a pair of free throws by St. John's center Robert Verdann, Anderson went the length of the floor for a layup with 2:14 left.
Buchanan hit the front end of a one-and-one with 1:51 left to give the Redmen a 59-55 lead. Sealy rebounded the miss on the second shot, but Buchanan missed after driving to the basket. Anderson hit one of two free throws at the 1:04 mark and Georgia Tech tied the game on a tip by Mackey with 23 seconds remaining.
The Yellow Jackets led 66-64 with 2:12 left in overtime and 68-66 with 1:40 remaining a jumper by Anderson but couldn't keep advantage in dropping their second straight game.
"I'm happy, we could have fallen behind by 20 points but we came back," Anderson said. "I was getting my shots but they weren't falling; I hope the guys don't get down on me, I'll be there during the rough times."