Travis Lelsie put to rest any worries about the Georgia Bulldogs having ‘tired legs’ on the Gators’ first possession when he swatted a lay-up attempt by Channing Parsons.
The Bulldogs came out passing and shooting the ball well in this one, and they were able to build up a 15 point lead going into the half despite not having Travis Leslie in the game for the final 6:11 of the first half (after he picked up his 2nd personal foul)…when you shoot 64% from the field as a team anything is possible.
Reserve guards Ebuka Anyaorah and DeMario Mayfield gave Coach Fox some very solid minutes off the bench. EA finished the game with 9 points and Mayfield chipped in 5 (I was surpised at Mayfield’s aggressiveness and athleticism – should this guy be playing more?). Their contributions were instrumental in allowing the Dawgs to remain effective on offense without Leslie in the game.
The Dawgs came out in the second half still shooting the ball well (at one point the announcer said they were hitting 71% from the field!) and were able to maintain their lead for the first 10 minutes.
With 9:45 remaining, Georgia had a 67-52 lead and looked poised to pull off another upset at home.
However, it wouldn’t be a UGA basketball game without a close finish.
In the second half, Chandler Parsons and Kenny Boynton scored 16 and 13, respectively. These two Gators almost willed Billy Donovan’s team to a comeback.
Boynton hit a three to make the score 71-69 Georgia, with 5:46 left in the game.
On the Dawgs next possession, Dustin Ware buried a three with the shot clock expiring to preserve the Georgia lead and put the Dawgs up 74-69 with 5:08 remaining (I felt so good for Dustin when he hit this shot…a bit of redemption for the missed FT’s at Vandy).
I wrote it down on a note pad and was planning to call this the “Play of the Game”.
Then with 3:30 left, Trey Thompkins buried a long two-pointer on a Georgia in-bounds play with less than 3 seconds on the shot clock to put the Dawgs up 76-71.
This was now going to go down as the “Play of the Game”.
But then Boynton buried another three and now Georgia was only up two with 3:10 left. The Dawgs got Thompkins isolated on the block, but his shot missed off the rim…luckily big Jeremy Price was there for the tip in to put the Dawgs up 78-74 with 2:44 left.
I now had a third play to consider for the “Play of the Game” award.
With only 13.3 seconds left in the game, Florida came out of a timeout with the ball (I was picturing the Gators hitting a three to win it at the buzzer).
But then Albert “Ajax” Jackson blocked a pass by Dan Werner that would have gone to a wide open Vernon Macklin (who would have surely dunked it and sent the game to overtime). The ball sailed out of bounds and with 0.1 left on the clock it looked like the Dawgs were going to close out the game…and they did.
So I guess I am going to give Ajax’s deflected pass the “Play of the Game” award. Congratulations Albert, the hardware should be in the mail by Monday.
This may have been the best game that the Dawgs have played this year. When Florida showed man defense, Georgia’s guards pounded it inside. If Donovan switched his team into a zone, the Dawgs patiently moved the ball around the outside until they got an open look from the perimeter.
Georgia finished the game with 21 assists and 15 turnovers (the record for most assists in a game by a Georgia team is 34), and shot the ball 57.4% from the field and 53.8% from beyond the arc.
The Dawgs out-rebounded the Gators 28-25, and Mark Fox got 31 points from his bench!
Thompkins led the way with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Jeremy Price tallied up 13 points and 5 boards in a reserve role.
Travis Leslie was limited to only 22 minutes due to early foul trouble, yet still managed to score 12 points and record 3 blocks.
Chris Barnes didn’t fill up the stat sheet on Saturday (2 points, 0 rebounds), but his block of Erving Walker’s lay-up attempt in the first half was amazing. Walker stole a pass and was taking the ball to the other end for a bucket when Barnes chased him down from behind and pinned the ball so hard on the glass I thought the backboard might break.
Georgia is now 5-0 on the season in Saturday SEC games played in the cozy confines of the Steg.
The Dawgs are 5-9 in the SEC and 13-14 overall.