Georgia Tech bounced from NCAAs by Ohio State

Favors and Lawal will ponder future

MILWAUKEE – For all the unexpected brought by this season, Georgia Tech fell victim to the expected. On Sunday, the Yellow Jackets played more like a No. 10 seed to Ohio State's second seed and went down with little protest before losing 75-66.

Packed in a 1-3-1 zone, Ohio State negated Tech's depth, size advantage and Derrick Favors in a foul-riddled game to advance to the Sweet 16.

Favors picked up three fouls before making his first shot five minutes into the second half. Gani Lawal picked up three fouls in the first half and played only 21 minutes overall. They combined for eight field goals and nine fouls.

"The game is good when the refs don't call tick-tack fouls," Lawal said. "They were calling tick-tack fouls today. They weren't letting us be physical, so it hurt us tremendously. Obviously we're a better team when me and Derrick are in there."

Tech fans were left to wonder how good a team Tech will be next year if Lawal and Favors leave early for the NBA. Both said they hadn't decided yet. With Tech on spring break next week, Coach Paul Hewitt expects to talk to them in 10 days or so.

"I'm just going to have to think it out," said Favors, projected as the No. 4 overall pick by NBAdraft.net.

As obvious as the decision might seem, Favors said he's not ruling out a return to Tech.

"There's a chance," he said. "A 50-50 chance."

If it ends now, Favors fouled out of his final college game, something he hadn't done all season. He and Lawal both had a pesky David Lighty largely to blame.

Lighty, at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, gave up four inches and 14 pounds to Lawal and more than that to Favors, but he got under their skin. He drew Lawal's third foul with 2:11 left in the first half, getting tangled as Lawal tried to gain offensive position.

"I’m trying to get post position, the man's got my arm, [and] how is that a foul on me?" Lawal said. "It doesn't make any sense."

Lighty did the same thing to Favors to hand him his third foul to open the second half. Two minutes later, Lighty forced Favors into a turnover on what the Tech player thought was a blocking foul.

Wrecking their rhythm was the Buckeyes' intent, Ohio State coach Thad Matta said.

"Going into the game, we were consumed with those two guys and what they were capable of doing," he said.

Favors finished with 10 points and Lawal 11. The spotlight belonged to Ohio State point guard Evan Turner, who scored 24 points with his old eighth-grade teammate, Iman Shumpert, in his pocket all game. Turner had nine turnovers, but he also handed out nine assists and collected nine rebounds.

"High risk, high reward," Tech guard D'Andre Bell said. "The kid is a warrior. If his jumper wasn't falling or he turned the ball over, he'd always make it up some kind of way, whether it was him getting a steal or making a key pass, [or] getting a key rebound."

With the attention on Turner, his best move was to hit Jon Diebler alone on the wing. Diebler made four 3-pointers, all in the second half, including two in three possessions to give the Buckeyes a 65-50 lead with 4:56 to play.

"We didn't follow our scouting report," Shumpert said. "We knew if he got open, he'd knock them down. We left him open."

Turner, Diebler and William Buford played 40 minutes each, but had enough energy to hit free throws late. The Buckeyes needed them to ward off an 11-0 Tech run, which cut Ohio State's lead to 65-61 with 1:47 left. But Zachery Peacock fouled Turner trying to force a turnover up court, and he made both free throws. Ohio State hit eight of its last 10 foul shots to end Tech's tournament run.

The Yellow Jackets (23-13) took consolation in making it to the second round after a 7-9 ACC regular season had put them on the bubble.

"To make the tournament and give yourself a chance, you've got to be pleased, not satisfied, with the fact that you're in there," Hewitt said. "This tournament moves very fast. Either other people start falling aside or you get pushed out quickly, and unfortunately for us we got knocked out."

After a great floor game in the first round against Oklahoma State, the Yellow Jackets were careless again with 21 turnovers. They hit four 3-pointers to Ohio State's eight and didn't get enough from inside.

"We didn't reverse the ball enough," Bell said. "And we didn't penetrate enough to create scoring opportunities for one another."

Both Bell and Peacock walked off the court for the last time as seniors. That much Tech already knows for sure.

"The farther and farther I walked away from the court, the harder it hit," Bell said. "I didn't think I was going to cry and, as soon as I sat in this chair, some tears started to come. I know when I wake up tomorrow morning it's going to hurt even more so. This was it. There's no more for me."