Jan. 1, 2005
Put a pair of top 10 teams together in an incredible environment and you get a great college basketball game. Kansas and Georgia Tech put on a great show at Allen Field House on New Year's Day, a great way to start 2005.
In the end, the Jayhawks used great defense and three-point shooting to come back and pull out a big-time W! With Wayne Simien sidelined following thumb surgery, Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk relied on veterans Keith Langford and Aaron Miles to come through in the second half.
Also give credit to the fans in Lawrence. Kansas was down 27-11 and the faithful never gave up, cheering loudly throughout the special day.
Langford stepped up and responded in the second half after missing seven of his eight attempts in the first half. He wanted the ball in crunch time and hit the winning basket.
Miles asserted himself in the second half as well, and finished the game as Kansas' all-time assist leader, passing Jacque Vaughn. The matchup of Miles and Georgia Tech's Jarrett Jack was special since both point guards have a winning mentality and toughness. They showed the importance of point guard play.
The tandem of Miles and Langford simply wouldn't allow Kansas to go down to defeat. Coach Bill Self had to be proud of his team's comeback effort.
Georgia Tech showed it would not be intimidated at Allen Field House, jumping out to a big early lead. This was a Final Four team last season and the experience is a big factor. Unfortunately, Tech wasn't the same team after B. J. Elder suffered a hamstring injury and could not return.
Without Elder in the lineup, Georgia Tech's style of play changed and it didn't attack the basket as effectively. Early on defensively, the Yellow Jackets realized that with Simien sidelined, they could attack the Jayhawk perimeter shooters and affect their jumpers.
This Georgia Tech team will make a run at a trip to St. Louis and the Final Four. Paul Hewitt's club can hurt you in so many ways -- on the wing, with perimeter shooting, Luke Schenscher inside and Jack penetrating.
Wow, what a day! Two great coaches, great players, fans, intensity and emotion, all in a great venue. It was a super game and a special way to start the New Year!
Dick Vitale coached the University of Detroit and the Pistons before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.