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Jackets end season on positive note
Georgia Tech’s Matt Causey is sandwiched between Boston College’s John Oates, left, and Tyrelle Blair, right, on Saturday, in Boston.

BOSTON — Boston College senior John Oates went to the NCAA tournament three times in his first three years.

He knows that streak is over.

“I’ve tasted it a little bit and absolutely want to taste it again. But it’s not in the cards,” he said Saturday after Georgia Tech finished off the regular season with an 86-78 victory over Boston College. “We’ll play as hard as we can in the conference tournament, try to get a little bit of glory going before the end of the season.”

Jeremis Smith had 20 points, 10 rebounds and four steals for Georgia Tech, and Zack Peacock scored 18. The Yellow Jackets (14-16, 7-9) finished in seventh place in the conference heading into next week’s tournament in Charlotte, N.C., where they will play Virginia in the first round.

Georgia Tech beat Virginia 92-82 in overtime on the road in January, then lost 76-74 at home last week.

“We’ve been in every game this year,” coach Paul Hewitt said. “So we feel like we can play with anyone. I’m more focused on resting our guys right now.”

Boston College (13-16, 4-12) lost its last six games and 12 of its last 13 to drop into 11th (with a tiebreaker edge over North Carolina State) in the 12-team ACC. The Eagles will play either Maryland or Miami in the first round.

BC is 1-1 against each, losing to both in their latest meeting.

“We’re definitely going to go into the tournament confident, because that’s the only way you’re going to have any success,” said Tyrese Rice, who scored 17 with eight assists. “We’re going to put this season behind us and look at it as the start of a new year.”

BC had earned a NCAA tournament berth in four consecutive seasons, including a trip to the regional semifinals in 2006. Unless they win the ACC tournament — a tall task with top-ranked North Carolina and No. 6 Duke in the way — that streak will almost certainly end.

“That’s one of the downfalls of playing for such a successful team for the past three years,” Oates said. “When you don’t experience success, it’s frustrating. But it’s not too late in my mind.”

Using a fullcourt press, Georgia Tech forced BC into 20 turnovers. Rice turned the ball over five times, and Biko Paris also had five turnovers as the Yellow Jackets turned the BC mistakes into 30 points.

Georgia Tech took a nine-point lead, 32-23, on Lewis Clinch’s 3-pointer with 4:31 left in the first half. But BC scored 10 of the next 11 points — six of them by Rice — to tie it, then took a short-lived lead with 49 seconds left in the half.

The Eagles couldn’t hold on in the second, though, when Tech made 17 of 24 from the floor.
“When you allow a team to shoot 71 percent from the floor, that’s clearly what the problem was,” BC coach Al Skinner said.

BC led 47-46 when Peacock made a layup to start an 11-2 run. Anthony Morrow hit a 3-pointer with 9:22 left to give the Yellow Jackets their first double-digit lead of the game, 62-52.

It was 76-60 before BC began shooting 3-pointers and fouling, a technique that allowed them to cut the deficit to six points, 82-76, with 24 seconds left.

Corey Raji had 17 points and seven rebounds for BC.

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