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Driesell leads Georgia State to first NCAA bid since '91
Updated: Sunday March 04, 2001 8:32 AM
ATLANTA (AP) -- Lefty Driesell didn't seem fazed by Saturday's accomplishment when he matched Eddie Sutton's feat of taking four different schools to the NCAA tournament.
Driesell, a 69-year-old head coach who ranks fifth in all-time victories, was just pleased with the effort of his team Saturday as Georgia State overpowered Troy State with 16 3-point baskets and a tenacious defense to capture the Trans America Athletic Conference tournament crown with a 79-55 victory.
"The teams I've taken to the NCAAs in the past haven't exactly been powerhouses," Driesell said. "I'm not looking at the rear-view mirror. I'm looking at the front windshield. I think we're going to be tough to play."
The Panthers (28-4) have only one previous NCAA appearance - a 1991 first-round loss to Arkansas.
Driesell previously took Davidson, Maryland and James Madison to the sport's biggest showcase. Sutton has been to the tournament with Arkansas, Kentucky, Creighton and Oklahoma State, his current team.
GSU's 19th consecutive home court victory gave Driesell his 761st triumph in 39 seasons on the bench.
"I don't care about that," Driesell said of his standing. "Like I said, I'm looking forward, not backward."
"Coach Driesell is the last of a dying breed that you just don't see in coaching any more," Troy head coach Don Maestri said.
"We are not afraid of anyone and I think we deserve a high seed out of this," Driesell said of his first team ever to win 28 games in a season. "We play defense. The key is our defense. If you don't play good defense, you don't play for me."
"We have a good work ethic and that's what got us here and that is what is going to take us to the NCAA's," said Shernard Long, the MVP of the conference.
Kevin Morris led the latest victory with 18 points, Thomas Terrell added 17 in a balanced attack that saw five Panthers score in double figures. Darryl Cooper and Long added 12 each and reserve Lamont McIntosh 11. Long also had 14 rebounds.
Lamayn Wilson scored 15 points and Derrick Davis 13 for Troy (19-12), which had its eight-game winning streak end. It was the seventh victory in a row for GSU and its 13th in 14 games.
"We wish Georgia State lots of luck," Maestri said. "The better they do in the tournament, the better it makes our league look. It will reflect and make everyone look good."
With Wilson hitting two early 3-pointers, the Trojans took an 11-5 lead in the first five minutes before Georgia State went on a 9-0 run that ended on consecutive driving layups by Morris that put the Panthers in the lead for good.
GSU led 39-25 just before Robert Rushing's 14-footer cut the
lead to 39-27 at halftime. The Trojans never got closer than 10
points in the second half.