Georgia (12-13, 6-6) was just a Donte Williams alley-oop dunk away from stunning Ole Miss on their home floor in Oxford on Saturday night.
With a hair over a half of a second remaining in regulation, Coach Mark Fox drew up a beautiful inbounds play that featured Williams screening high for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. As Fox and Georgia expected, the Rebels overloaded help to a curling KCP, leaving Donte alone to glide to the rim. Neme tossed him a perfect pass and had Wiliams not been mauled by the Ole Miss defender he would have surely finished it with a game-winning flush.
Unfortunately, no foul was called.
Instead, the two teams went to overtime locked up at 70 apiece. The Rebels – up 78-74 with 1:06 left in the overtime – put the stamp on this victory on a side out play that left Murphy Holloway with the ball and no one on him as the shot clock was about to expire. Instinctively, Holloway drove to the basket and took the free lay-up, putting his team up 80-74. After a few more free throws, Ole Miss would lead 84-74 when the clock ran out.
Credit Georgia for giving a Herculean effort in a very hostile environment against one of the SEC’s better teams. The Dawgs hung tight with the Rebels in a game that featured 17 lead changes and five minutes of free basketball.
With just 3:54 remaining in regulation, the Dawgs appeared in control following a three-pointer from KCP, extending the UGA advantage to 64-56.
Marshall Henderson, who had played sparingly much of the night due to foul trouble, responded at a point when his team desperately needed him. Henderson scored the next 14 Rebel points and played a major role in getting his squad into the overtime. Henderson finished the game with 25 points, going a perfect 14 of 14 from the charity stripe.
For Georgia, Pope led the way with 19 points to go along with 12 rebounds, marking his fourth double-double of the year.
Everyone contributed for Coach Fox in this game, and his team dominated a physical Ole Miss team 39-22 on the boards. Kenny Gaines and Donte Williams both reached double-digits, scoring 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Gaines, who fouled out late in this game, notched his points in just 18 minutes of play. One thing is for certain, Kenny Gaines is ready to be playing significant minutes for this Georgia team for the remainder of the season. He is looking more confident and smooth with the basketball, and I anticipate that he will continue to provide offensive support down the stretch.
The Dawgs get a bit of a breather before they hit the road again next Thursday to take on Arkansas in Fayetteville.
At this point, it appears Georgia can play with anyone in the SEC.