TUCSON — Neither Duke nor North Carolina could defeat Georgia Tech in the days leading up to the NCAA basketball tournament, but Southern University of Baton Rouge, La., an unranked club averaging nearly 100 points per game, treated Tech like "just another team" Friday at the West Regional.
Behind by 15 points during the first half, the Jaguars recovered to upset the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament champions, 93-78. Southern will play another upset winner, George Washington, which beat New Mexico, 82-68.
Jervaughn Scales will be better remembered than either Bobby Hurley or Eric Montross by the players of Georgia Tech. Scales, a 6-foot-6 junior who plays bigger, carried 13th-seeded Southern with 27 points, 18 rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals against the regional's fourth-seeded team.
And then Scales had a few choice words for the Yellow Jackets, saying: "We knew they were ACC champs and we're not on that level, but we can play with those teams. We told ourselves at halftime that this was just another team."
Scales advised teammates not to celebrate on the floor of the McKale Center after the game, "because I didn't want it to look like it was a big deal, beating Georgia Tech. I told them to wait until we got into the locker room."
Southern was the last of 64 schools admitted to the tournament, defeating Jackson State on Sunday for the right to represent the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The Jaguars are 21-9 under Ben Jobe, who, with 422 victories working in relative obscurity, ranks among the 25 winningest active coaches in college basketball.
Jobe was concerned about his players' nerves when they fell behind, 14-4, and then by 32-17 with eight minutes remaining until halftime. But with Scales and 6-7 Leonard White leaping like volleyball players to bat back shots, the Jaguars rallied to take the lead 70 seconds into the second half.
With the game tied, 61-61, Southern went on a 15-2 run from which Georgia Tech never recovered. Leading the run was guard Terry Thames, the son of former NFL player Eddie Payton and nephew of Walter Payton, who finished with 20 points.
Southern averaged 97.9 points this season, including 157 against Prairie View A&M and 156 against Baptist Christian.
Georgia Tech (19-11) was led by center Malcolm Mackey's 27 points and James Forrest's 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Said Mackey, a senior forward: "You never know which of our teams will show up. Is it going to be the team that beat No. 1 North Carolina or the team that lost to College of Charleston?"
Midway through the season, College of Charleston stunned Tech by 17 points.
Said Coach Bobby Cremins: "I feel bad for this team, but I do want to congratulate by good friend Ben Jobe. To me, he's always been the equivalent of a John Thompson, a Bobby Knight or a Dean Smith, and if I was going to lose to anybody, it was great to lose to a person like him."
Those were Jobe's sentiments exactly.
"I've said it before, but I don't think friends should play each other," he said.
George Washington 82, New Mexico 68--The Colonials gained their 20th victory by shooting 49%. Freshman guard Kwame Evans, the game's high scorer with 19 points as a reserve, made all five three-pointers he tried.
Yinka Dare, a 7-1 freshman from Nigeria, added 17 points and 10 rebounds for 12th-seeded George Washington (20-8) in surprising the regional's fifth-seeded team.
Said Colonial Coach Mike Jarvis, "I think this team invented the word surprise. It's one thing when you ask your players to do something, but it's another when your players do what you ask them to do."
New Mexico never led during the second half. One run got the Lobos (24-7) as close as 51-49, but Evans' three-pointer from the wing sent the Colonials on a seven-point run and the game was rarely in doubt thereafter.
Michigan 84, Coastal Carolina 53--The top-seeded Wolverines had no trouble, Ray Jackson scoring 12 of his 19 points in the first half.
Juwan Howard added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Michigan (27-4), which opened a 17-9 lead and never looked back at the Chanticleers (22-10).
The Wolverines will play UCLA next.