Originally created 12/14/03

Yellow Jackets stay undefeated



ATLANTA - Unbeaten and ranked No. 10, Georgia Tech's average margin of victory is 25.9 points per game. So when the Yellow Jackets led Saint Louis by just three at halftime on Saturday, they could have been a little nervous.

They weren't.

"Teams can play with you in the first half. We just want to keep the pressure on and eventually we think they'll fold," Georgia Tech guard B.J. Elder said.

Saint Louis folded quicker than a cheap chair. The Yellow Jackets unleashed their pressure defense in the second half and pounded the Billikens 75-62 in the Peach Bowl Classic at Philips Arena.

Georgia Tech improved to 8-0 - its third-best start ever .

"Once we get the defensive pressure up, we're hard to beat," Isma'il Muhammad said.

The Yellow Jackets opened the second half on a 16-4 run, buoyed by Elder's consecutive steals and transition baskets that followed. The surge, in which the they scored six points in 25 seconds, increased the Georgia Tech lead to 48-33 and finished off the Billikens (3-3).

"It just kind of got ugly from there," Saint Louis forward Chris Sloan said.

All that remained was the nearly obligatory highlight dunk from Muhammad, who nearly got one early in the second half. Instead Muhammad - and the crowd, whose buzz rose every time a Muhammad dunk appeared possible - waited.

Muhammad didn't hold off too long. He slammed one home with 9:55 left in the second half, pushing the Yellow Jackets' lead to 65-42. Then, after a Saint Louis basket, Muhammad got his signature moment, catching a half-court alley-oop from Will Bynum and dropping it over Sloan.

"It's fun playing with someone who can finish like that. It doesn't matter with Ish. He can beat anybody around the basket. If I see him giving me the signal, I'm going to throw it to him every time," said Bynum, who had six points, three rebounds and three assists in his first game for the Yellow Jackets since transferring from Arizona.

Muhammad finished with 16 points, and Elder paced Georgia Tech with 17 and four steals. Josh Fisher led Saint Louis with 14 points, but leading scorer Reggie Bryant struggled. Bryant scored 13 points on 5-for-16 shooting, indicative of Saint Louis' offensive troubles in the second half.