By Caleb Johnson
Atlanta, GA— Down one point with two seconds on the clock, Tadric Jackson took a pass from Jose Alvarado and laid the ball in at the buzzer to pull off a thrilling 52-51 victory over the Northwestern Wildcats at McCamish Pavilion Tuesday night.
“It worked out great. I saw an open lane and just took it.” Jackson replied describing the final play.
Georgia Tech, playing in their fourth of a six-game homestand, looked to stay undefeated at home in ESPN 2’s game of the week. The game also featured wigs passed out to fans that imitated Coach Josh Pastner’s bushy locks. Coach loved the marketing idea saying,
“The wigs were great. Great job by Phil [Lewicki] …the amount of close games we have, I coach every possession and literally die with every possession too. I hope that I can have this hair for as long as I can. There’s no guarantees on that.”
The Yellow Jackets began the game with a strong defensive presence, holding the Wildcats to 27% from the field and a measly 14% from three-point land. However, Jackets forward Curtis Haywood did not have any problems from downtown in the first half hitting back-to-back three-pointers that would close out the first half with Tech up 28-22.
Also worth noting is the play of forward Ben Lammers. The Senior started the game scoring Georgia Tech’s first seven points all from the post and free throws, finishing with 13 points and six rebounds. His presence on this team is paramount to their success even while fighting through a sprained ankle. Coach Pastner, however, looked to see more effective minutes late out of the big man adding, “Ben’s been a little out of sync. He’s not practiced since [spraining his ankle]. He’s just played in the games. When guys don’t practice, they get out of sync.”
Georgia Tech opened the second half hot, eventually to a 10-point lead with 14 minutes remaining in the game. However, the Jackets allowed the Wildcats back into the game with 3:10 to go when Bryant McIntosh knocked down a jumper to tie the game at 47.
From this moment on fans who showed up on a Tuesday night to pack McCamish Pavilion were treated to a game that took on a tournament atmosphere. Ben Lammers snatched the lead for Georgia Tech off two free throws with a minute left, but it would not be enough. Northwestern’s Derek Pardon would rebound a missed three from Aaron Falzon and on the putback bring the Wildcats up by a mere point with 7.1 seconds on the clock.
Those seven seconds were just enough for the ensuing play that allowed Tadric Jackson to lay the ball in and become engulfed by cheering teammates in dramatic fashion.
“Tadric was smart not to settle [for a jump shot] and drove the ball…that’s what he should’ve done being a senior.” Coach Pastner responded to the final play.
Jackson ended the night with 10 points and led the team with seven rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets finish their homestand against Grambling State on Friday, and SEC foe Tennessee on Sunday. The latter will broadcast on ESPNU at 6 p.m. ET.