Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
With the 2014 Final Four underway this weekend in Dallas, we at YellowJackedUp would like to remember the Georgia Tech team who ten years ago, not only made it to the Final Four but reached the national championship game – against a UConn team who finds themselves back in that very game this year.
Some younger fans may not even know about that Yellow Jackets team, with Paul Hewitt at the helm and Jarrett Jack leading the way, who defied all odds and had a terrific season. We look back at the 2003-2004 Georgia Tech men’s basketball tournament run.
Finishing with a 28-10 overall record, the Jackets had an amazing season. Despite losing in the ACC tournament, Tech was still given an at-large bid and was awarded the third seed in the St. Louis region.
With SEC the champion Kentucky Wildcats in as the number one seed in the same region, many analysts had Kentucky representing the region in the Final Four. But with help from University of Alabama-Birmingham, who knocked out Kentucky in the second round, the region was up for grabs.
The Yellow Jackets advanced to the Final Four with gritty wins against Northern Iowa, Boston College, Nevada, and Kansas, with the latter punching their ticket to the Final Four.
In the semi-finals, the Yellow Jackets were matched up against the second seeded Cowboys of Oklahoma St. who advanced by upsetting the number one-seeded St. Josephs in the East Rutherford region. Tech was in control for most of the game and looked like they were going to go to the national championship game easily.
Image – USA TODAY Sports
But the game got away from the Yellow Jackets and with 26 seconds left John Lucas tied the game with a three pointer at 65-65. Coach Hewitt gave the ball to Will Bynum in the final moments and milked the clock down to the last few seconds. Bynum won the game on a last second lay-up to advance to their first ever national championship game against Connecticut.
The earmark of this team was to always fight back, and to play until the final buzzer. Rarely all season were the Jackets really out of a game, but all that changed when the national championship game tipped-off.
Coming off such an emotional win against Okie St., the Yellow Jackets looked gassed and never fully comfortable against the Huskies. Connecticut was in complete control from start to finish and out-hustled the overmatched Yellow Jackets, cruising to a 82-73 win to give Jim Calhoun his second national championship.
Although it was a tough loss to take, fans are still are very proud of the accomplishments of the 2003-2004 men’s basketball team. Lets celebrate the ten-year anniversary of one of the greatest seasons in Yellow Jacket basketball history.
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