Tennessee reserve Jordan McRae made a free throw to complete an old-fashioned three-point play that was part of a 13-4 Volunteer run that shoved the proverbial nail in Georgia‘s (10-12; 1-7) coffin with 3:25 left in the game.
After the Dawgs had pulled with 1 point following a Kentavious-Caldwell Pope jumper, Tennessee responded by making 4 of their next 6 field goal attempts (2 of them coming from beyond the arc). The Vols lead ballooned to 61-51, allowing them to coast through the final minutes to a 73-62 home victory.
The Dawgs came out and competed from the opening tip, leading for most of the first half in front of a sold-out Thompson-Boling Arena. Georgia built its lead up to 27-19 after a Dustin Ware three-pointer, but Tennessee closed the gap and actually took a 30-28 advantage into the intermission.
Georgia reclaimed the lead to start the second half, and they actually increased it to 41-34 after a Nemanja Djurisic lay-up with 14:42 remaining in the game. Tennessee’s Trae Golden and McRae each buried shots from beyond the arc that helped to wipe out the UGA advantage, however. Golden led all Volunteer scorers with 16 points, matching his total from the last time these two teams met in Athens.
The Bulldogs’ leading scorer on the night was KCP, who finished the game with 16 points as well. However, the resurgent hot-hand of senior Dustin Ware was the storyline offensively for the Dawgs. Ware scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, and he finished the game making 6 of his 7 field goal attempts (including 3 of 4 from three-point range).
As a team UGA shot the ball very well from the perimeter, knocking down nearly 47% of their attempts. Throughout the game it felt like Georgia was having a good shooting night, yet in the end they wound up connecting on only 36.4% from the floor (barely above their SEC season average). I suppose after the 15-point first half on Tuesday night against Auburn 28 points can probably look like an offensive explosion.
Coach Mark Fox’s technical at the end of the game, after a no call on a Neme lay-up, was probably the result of a whole lot of built up frustrations regarding the course of this season more than anything else.
Credit the Bulldogs for competing and playing hard tonight. Honestly, they just don’t have the players to win a conference game like this on the road.
If there is a silver lining to take away from today’s SEC action it is that South Carolina lost to Kentucky, giving Georgia hope of avoiding sole possession of the conference’s last place position.