Georgia upsets Illinois 70-67

UGA entered into last night’s game an 8-point underdog according to Las Vegas…they left it a 3-point winner.

Albert Jackson and Trey Thompkins celebrating the big win

This was easily the best game that this team has played this year, and maybe the most complete game that they’ve played in a year and a half (ESPN”s Andy Katz put a bit of a damper on the win in his recap of the game about halfway down the page).  Thompkins and Leslie were scoring; Ware was dishing; Price and Jackson were rebounding…it was a total team effort.

Not to mention that it was done in front of a predominantly Illinios crowd.  I went to the game with a few friends, and we were amazed when we got to our seats and saw that we were in a sea of orange and blue (their cheer “ILL”…”INI” never got old).  That only made the win that much sweeter.

The Dawgs came to play from the start, opening up a 16-11 lead 7 minutes into the first half.  The teams went back and forth for the remainder of the half and the game was tied at 32 before going to the break.

Georgia came out strong in the second half and built a 44-36 lead with 15:35 remaining in the game.  Coach Mark Fox gave some of his starters a quick blow (namely Leslie, Ware & Thompkins), and Illinois closed the lead to 45-40 before Fox had to call timeout and get the essentials (namely Leslie, Ware & Thompkins) back in.

With 4:57 left in the game, Travis Leslie made an acrobatic lay-up and was fouled and the lead sat at 64-55 Georgia.  Before the free throw attempt by Leslie, Illinois called timeout to regroup.  During the timeout, Fox again took out Ware and Thompkins (and Leslie after he shot the free throw) and once again Illinois cut the lead to 64-60 following a Billy Cole 3-pointer right in front of the Illini bench.

Fox called timeout and put the starters back in, but this time it was for the rest of the game (thank goodness).  But Demetri McCamey made an amazing basket and the foul with 35 seconds left to tie the game at 66-66.  He knocked in the ensuing free throw and Illinois was up by a point with 35 ticks left.

Ware took the ball down the court and gave it to Thompkins, who took it right to the bucket and was fouled shooting.  Trey coolly stepped up to the line and knocked down both free throws to put Georgia up 68-67 with 22 seconds remaining.

Georgia then played great defense, forcing McCamey to take a tough shot that barely glanced the rim before Thompkins (again) brought down the rebound.  The Illini were forced to foul, which forced Trey to knock down two more free throws and seal the game at 70-67.

A few quick hitters:

  • Thompkins was a beast inside offensively and really owned the offensive blocks dropping 21 points/7 rebounds
  • Leslie was sensational and scoring big bucket after big bucket to end up with 17 points
  • In my opinion, this might have been Albert Jackson’s best game of his career.  He had 8 rebounds (including 3 offensive) and played really strong inside
  • The team effort on the boards was relentless.  Georgia out rebounded Illinois 35-26, and it seemed like the Illini were limited to only one shot attempt per possession all night
  • The “UGA Block Party” was in full-force last night as the Dawgs swatted 6 shots
  • Former UGA coach Dennis Felton was at the game with his son (he was sitting one aisle over from me).  He appeared to be writing on a pad the entire game, and then he left the arena with the game tied at 66-66 and 35 seconds left (bizarre).

What a game!  Anybody else got any more thoughts?  Did I leave anything or anybody off that deserves credit?