Well, I can honestly say that I have never been to a game before where the winning points were added to the scoreboard with both of the teams at their respective benches.
But that’s what happened in Athens on Tuesday night, as Tennessee came into Stegeman Coliseum and stole one (59-57) from Georgia (13-4; 2-2) in front of a sell-out crowd.
The Vols had the ball with 27 seconds remaining and the scored knotted at 57-57. The ball ended up in the hands of freshman Tobias Harris, who missed a three-pointer from the corner with only 6 seconds left. Tennessee center Brian Williams went over Georgia’s Chris Barnes for the offensive rebound, and then proceeded to put the ball back up and in as time expired for the win.
From my seat at the game, it was pretty difficult to tell whether or not Williams committed a foul on Barnes when he went after the rebound. Regardless, Chris Barnes HAS to come up with that board – foul or no foul – or at least bat the ball up in the air and send the game into overtime.
Although, I did hear Brian Williams say on Sportscenter this morning, “I’m surprised they didn’t call a foul.”
This game, though offensively-challenged, was very competitive, with the largest lead being seven points (when Georgia was up 28-21 with 4:45 left in the first half). Both Georgia and Tennessee shot under 43% from the floor, largely because each team played intense, physical defense for 40 minutes.
The Vols did an excellent job of defending Trey Thompkins on the block, limiting him to 13 points on 4 of 13 shooting from the field. Tennessee made it difficult for Trey to receive the basketball near the basket, and even when he did get it in his hands it was only a matter of seconds before he was doubled-up.
Thompkins began the first minute of second half with two straight baskets, giving his Dawgs a 37-35 lead. In the game’s final 19 minutes though, Trey only scored one point (on a free throw) and missed his two field goal attempts. Georgia will not win many games this year when Thompkins attempts just 4 field goals in a second half.
Gerald Robinson, Jr. was superb in the first half, scoring 12 points and connecting on all four of his shots from the field (including 2 of 2 from beyond the arc). In the second half however, Robinson was a ghost, going 0 for 3 from the floor and scoring just 2 points. For whatever reason, Robinson stopped creating on offense after the break.
I thought that Travis Leslie, who led the Dawgs with 14 points, had a resilient second half considering that he missed his first three shots coming out of intermission. Leslie’s dunk on his own three-point miss was not only a brilliant display of athleticism, but it was also a critical basket that Georgia desperately needed after not scoring for over 4 minutes (bringing the Dawgs to within one after he hit the ensuing free throw).
Jeremy Price, who dealt with foul trouble for most of the game, was a non-factor for Coach Mark Fox on Tuesday. He played just 9 minutes, finishing with 2 rebounds and 0 points. Price’s point totals in the first four conference games have been 2, 2, 12, 0, for an average of 4.0 ppg. Georgia has to have another big that can score on the block when Trey is seeing double-teams, and if Price isn’t that guy, then someone else needs to step up.
Tennessee was led offensively by Tobias Harris and Scotty Hopson, with both players finishing with 15 points.
The UGA student section did an excellent job of making noise and giving the Steg a vibrant atmosphere. I would like to give them props as well for their clever chant of “Where’s your daddy?”, used every time Bruce Pearl’s son Steven handled the ball (which wasn’t often).
This is going to be a tough loss for Georgia to swallow, and if you listened to Coach Fox on the post-game show – he sounded utterly dejected. The Dawgs did themselves a huge favor last Saturday by winning on the road in Oxford, only to cough one up at home. Now the pressure is back on for Georgia to win a few more games away from Athens if they hope to finish with an above .500 SEC record.
The game this Saturday against Mississippi State just became a must-win.