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FINAL FOUR: FIRST LOOK

OKLAHOMA ST. vs. GEORGIA TECH

March 29, 2004|Robyn Norwood

* Story line: In the bright lights of the Final Four, Oklahoma State will be the emotional favorite because of links to two tragedies. Ten people, including two Oklahoma State players, died in the crash of a team plane three years ago. In addition, John Lucas -- son of the former NBA player and star of the upset of Saint Joseph's -- transferred from Baylor last year in the aftermath of the murder of Baylor player Patrick Dennehy.

* How they advanced: Oklahoma State ended Saint Joe's stirring season when Lucas made a three-pointer in the closing seconds and the Cowboys survived a last-second shot to win, 64-62. They had little trouble with Eastern Washington and Memphis in the first two rounds before defeating a physical Pittsburgh team in the regional semifinals. Georgia Tech didn't breeze through at all, defeating Northern Iowa, Boston College and Nevada by five points or less before reaching the Final Four with a 79-71 overtime victory over Kansas.

* Common opponents: Oklahoma State went 2-1 against Texas Tech, winning at home and in the Big 12 tournament but losing at Lubbock. Georgia Tech defeated Texas Tech in the Preseason NIT championship game, 85-65.

* Style of play: Both teams have guard-oriented lineups, play tough defense and like to run. Oklahoma State is considered undersized inside with 6-8 Ivan McFarlin and 6-7 Joey Graham, but they often play bigger than they are. Luke Schenscher is Georgia Tech's inside weapon.

* X factors: B.J. Elder, Georgia Tech's leading scorer, sprained his right ankle against Nevada and played only 12 minutes against Kansas, but the Yellow Jackets have won twice without him. With his status for the Final Four a question mark, point guard Jarrett Jack or Marvin Lewis might have to pick up the slack again.

* What to expect: Georgia Tech has gutted out two victories despite Elder's ankle injury, but Oklahoma State looks too good for it to happen again -- and the Yellow Jackets might not even be able to win if he's able to contribute.

Robyn Norwood

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

OKLAHOMA ST. (31-3)

*--* Northwestern State W 90-62 Colorado State W 82-49 Pepperdine W 84-82 Texas San Antonio W 83-53 at Brigham Young L 76-71 SE Oklahoma State W 93-46 at Arkansas W 73-58 Texas Pan American W 96-61 Samford W 65-50 SMU W 89-54 Texas A&M Corpus Christi W 84-52 at Texas Tech L 83-62 Oklahoma W 77-56 at Kansas State W 57-56 Colorado W 71-62 at Texas W 72-67 Texas Tech W 70-66 at Texas A&M W 91-79 at Iowa State W 88-67 Kansas W 80-60 Baylor W 91-58 at Oklahoma W 65-52 Nebraska W 87-83 at Missouri L 93-92 at Baylor W 72-65 Texas W 76-67 Texas A&M W 70-41 Iowa State-x W 83-75 Texas Tech-x W 82-77 Texas-x W 65-49 Eastern Washington* W 75-56 Memphis* W 70-53 Pittsburgh* W 63-51 Saint Joseph's* W 64-62

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NCAA tournament x-Big 12 tournament

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GEORGIA TECH (27-9)

*--* Louisiana-Lafayette-x W 79-45 Hofstra-x W 75-56 at Cornell W 90-69 at Connecticut-x W 77-61 Texas Tech-x W 85-65 at Ohio St. W 73-53 Tennessee St. W 94-43 Saint Louis W 75-62 Alabama A&M W 74-41 St. John's W 79-66 Marist W 90-40 Va. Commonwealth W 86-65 at Georgia L 83-80 (2OT) at North Carolina L 103-88 Virginia W 75-57 Maryland W 81-71 at Wake Forest W 73-66 at N.C. State L 76-72 Clemson W 76-69 Duke L 82-74 at Florida St. L 81-65 at Tennessee W 77-62 North Carolina W 88-77 at Virginia L 82-80 at Maryland W 75-64 Wake Forest L 80-76 N.C. State L 79-69 at Clemson W 79-60 at Duke W 76-68 Florida St. W 63-60 North Carolina-y W 83-82 Duke-y L 85-71 N. Iowa-* W 65-60 Boston College-* W 57-54 Nevada-* W 72-67 Kansas-* W 79-71 (OT)

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* NCAA tournament x-Preseason NIT; y-ACC Tournament

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