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Georgia Tech, Charlotte, others nab honors


Paul Hewitt
Paul Hewitt
Before the Preseason NIT started, how many people picked Georgia Tech to win the event?

Give coach Paul Hewitt credit. He had his team prepared and ready against top-flight competition. Sweeping top-ranked Connecticut and Texas Tech in Madison Square Garden was not easy, yet Hewitt's team won both games easily. B.J. Elder, Jarrett Jack and Isma'il Muhammad were outstanding.

I was really impressed with the quickness and defensive ability of the Yellow Jackets.

Remember, this program lost Chris Bosh, who left for the NBA early last spring. Tech will get the services of Arizona transfer Will Bynum in December, so watch out for this team, which was picked seventh in the ACC preseason polls.

There were a number of stunners to consider. Georgia Tech over No. 1 Connecticut, Purdue over Duke, Fairfield over St. John's and Lubbock Christian's two upsets (see Coach of the Week, below).

Charlotte's upset over Syracuse is the choice for a number of reasons. Coach Bobby Lutz's team had a 50-29 halftime lead against the defending national champions and led by 23 in the second half. This was the same Charlotte team that lost earlier in the season at home to George Washington (not to take anything away from coach Karl Hobbs and Co.).

Charlotte's Brendan Plavich hit 10 of 17 trifectas and scored 31 points in the upset.

It was a tough week to pick one standout. LSU's Jaime Lloreda, Kansas' Wayne Simien, Charlotte's Brendan Plavich, Notre Dame's Torin Francis and North Carolina's Jawad Williams all posted outstanding performances.

But my choice is Purdue's Kenneth Lowe. The senior guard came through in the clutch as the Boilermakers stunned Duke to capture the Great Alaska Shootout championship.

Known for his defensive ability, Lowe had a couple of great games in Anchorage. He scored 22 points and went 8-for-8 from the foul line against the Blue Devils. Lowe also scored a career-high 26 points in a victory over Texas State.

Who? That was the question Rhode Island and Bradley probably asked. The NAIA school scored a couple of big surprises, with Jared Fears and Brandon Jones leading the way. Copeland has had some success with the Chaparrals. Now he has the coveted honor of Coach of the Week, baby!

P.J. Tucker, a 6-5 forward from Raleigh, N.C., has been giving coach Rick Barnes some solid minutes off the bench, showing consistent shooting from the field. Tucker hit 8 of 9 shots, scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a win over Sam Houston State. He followed up with a 7-of-10 shooting performance, scoring 15 points against Centenary.

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