Ware’s Dawgs Sink Jackets 73-72

From the twitter account of ESPN’s Andy Katz – “Georgia with late possession win over rival Georgia Tech in Atlanta. That’s the type of win road win UGA should have to be taken seriously.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

After sleepwalking through the first half of last night’s game against Georgia Tech (4-4), the Dawgs (6-2) woke up behind a barrage of Dustin Ware three-pointers to secure Georgia‘s first win at Alexander Memorial Colesium in 10 years.

Ware hit 7 of his 9 three-point attempts last night and finished with 21 points along with 6 assists, including the game-winner that put his Dawgs up 73-70 with just 18 seconds remaining.

Georgia Tech had the ball with 11 seconds left and an opportunity to tie the game, but Glen Rice, Jr. elected to take the lay-up instead, cutting the Georgia lead to 73-72 with just 6.8 seconds remaining in the game.

The Dawgs then in-bounded the ball to Gerald Robinson, Jr. – GR2 is so fast with the ball that he nearly got away from the Tech defenders and ran out the clock himself.  However, he was fouled with just 4.5 seconds remaining and managed to miss both free throws – the only silver lining here is that there were only 2.8 seconds left after the Jackets were able to run down his second miss and call timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, Brian Oliver elected to throw a hail mary pass that was intercepted by Georgia’s Travis Leslie  and the game was officially over.

The importance of Georgia‘s sharp perimeter shooting cannot be stated enough.  Sherrard Brantley had his best game to date as a Dawg, knocking down three shots from beyond the arc and finishing with 9 points.  Brantley hit back-to-back three’s during a crucial stretch in the second half, giving Georgia‘s its first lead at 48-47 with 12:10 remaining. He then answered a Brian Oliver three on the ensuing possession to put the Dawgs back on top 51-50 at the 11:36 mark.  With both Travis Leslie and GR2 dealing with foul trouble, Brantley was thrust into the difficult role of guarding Tech’s Iman Shumpert in the second half.   Brantley stepped up and did a nice job with Shumpert, limiting him to just 7 points in the second half (and maybe wearing him down – Shumpert had to sit the game’s final minutes dealing with leg cramps).

The Jackets started the game with a 2-3 zone that stymied the Dawgs on offense for a majority of the first half.  The Dawgs shot just 40% from the field and turned it over 5 times – Trey had 3 of those first-half turnovers and just 6 points.  Thompkins struggled to find offense against the Tech zone, with defenders collapsing on him every time he touched the ball.

The Dawgs had a seven-minute stretch in the first half in which they scored only one field goal, enabling the Jackets to build a 31-21 lead with just 2:17 left before the break.

Fortunately for Georgia, they played pretty tough defense which kept the game within reach – trailing 35-29 at the half.

The second half was a different story.

Ware and Brantley buried a combined six three-point shots, forcing Paul Hewitt to put his team in a man-to-man defense.  Georgia Tech’s Paul Oliver and Daniel Miller were no match for Thompkins, as Trey torched the Jackets for 15 second-half points – he finished with 21 points and 6 rebounds.

In the second half, the Dawgs shot an improved 48.4% from the field, and they made 7 of 11 from beyond the arc.

It is also worth noting that Georgia only turned the ball over TWICE in the second half, and just seven times in the game.  This shows a lot of maturity from Fox’s team, committing only seven turnovers playing on the road in a hostile environment.

And how about the resiliency of this Dawgs team?

When the Jackets went up 70-65 following a dunk by Daniel Miller with only 2:14 left in the game, it looked as if this one was slipping away.

But Gerald Robinson calmly guided his team’s offense and fed a beautiful entry pass to Trey – Thompkins finished the play plus the free throw to bring Georgia within two.  Following a nice Georgia defensive stand, GR2 took the ball to the basket and finished an amazing left-handed finger-roll, tying the game at 70 apiece.  And then (as we all are well aware) came the GR2 dish to Ware for the big three that gave Georgia the win.

So in the game’s final two minutes, Robinson led the Dawgs with 2 assists and a field goal.

Gerald Robinson finished the game with 11 points and 6 assists, and at this point, it looks like GR2 might be unguardable off the dribble.  When teams show Georgia zone in the future, I’d really like to see GR2 become a little more selfish in attacking the zone himself.  It’s obvious that he likes getting his teammates involved in the offense, but I think his penetration will force teams to play more man against Georgia.

This was a great win for Georgia for so many reasons – beating the in-state rival, beating an ACC team, winning on the road, recruiting, etc.

After going 0-11 in true road games last season, Coach Fox’s team is now 2-0 this season in games played at the opponent’s venue.

Watching the Dawgs take this game, and then getting to listen to the Tech fans grumble about Paul Hewitt all the way to the car made this event well worth the $30 I paid for the ticket.

And finally, Coach Mark Fox’s team has now won two in a row against the Jackets.

So I ask you Dawgs fans: Who runs this state?

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