GREENSBORO, N.C. – Jose Alvarado couldn't contain his emotions as the horn sounded, collapsing in disbelief as his Georgia Tech teammates mobbed each other near midcourt.
He quickly ran to the celebration that included coach Josh Pastner — still sporting that can't-miss-it clear face shield.
“Coach, you’re a champion, man!” Alvarado yelled as he joined him for a postgame TV interview amid fallen-from-the-rafters balloons and confetti.
The Yellow Jackets have their first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title in nearly three decades after beating No. 15 Florida State 80-75 in Saturday night's championship game. Just as importantly, they've secured an automatic NCAA Tournament berth to end an 11-year drought.
“A lot of emotions: joy, happiness, everything,” said Michael Devoe, the tournament MVP. “I mean, this goes down in history for us.”
Devoe scored 20 points for the fourth-seeded Yellow Jackets (17-8), who shot 52% after halftime and repeatedly capitalized on mistakes by the Seminoles to win their first ACC Tournament crown since 1993 and fourth overall.
ACC player of the year Moses Wright and Jordan Usher each had 11 of their 15 points after halftime for Georgia Tech, which got off to an 0-2 start this season with home losses to Georgia State and Mercer. The Yellow Jackets stood 9-8 after a loss at Clemson on a last-second shot Feb. 12 to find themselves facing bubble uncertainty.
But they haven't lost since. And there's no doubt about the NCAA tourney now after a remarkable climb, not after a strong finish against the second-seeded Seminoles (16-6).