The Georgia Bulldogs (7-6, 1-1) won an emotionally inspired game against #21 Missouri on Wednesday night, just a day after their head coach attended the funeral of his late father.
In my opinion, this win was by far the best road win of the Mark Fox Era – the next best being a road win at Starkville two years ago in which UGA upset then-ranked #20 Mississippi State.
Last night’s game seems bigger, though.
UGA came into this contest 0-6 in contests away from Athens, and Mizzu held the nation’s longest-running home win streak at 26 games, which Georgia snapped.
The Bulldogs played with more effort last night than we have seen all season, out-rebounding the Tigers 43-34 and limiting them to under 40% from the floor as a team. Mizzu’s star point guard, Jordan Clarkson, came into the game netting more than 19 points per game – yet the Dawgs were able to hold him to just 12 points on a frustrating 4 of 14 shooting performance.
While Charles Mann led the way with 18 points, Coach Fox also got double-digit scoring efforts from Nemanja Djurisic, Kenny Gaines and Brandon Morris, who chipped in 16, 11, and 10, respectively.
Mann relentlessly attacked the basket all night, and he scored the go-ahead bucket in the lane with 39 second left in overtime, putting his team up 65-63. The Dawgs got a stop on the next possession, and they managed to hit enough free throws to escape Columbia with the 70-64 upset.
Neme, much like in the win over Western Carolina, seemingly took over on offense late in the game. After scoring 9 points on all three’s in the first half, Djurisic went scoreless for the next 20 minutes. However, Neme came alive in overtime, scoring the Dawgs’ first 7 points, including a monster three-pointer that tied the game at 63 apiece with a 1:44 remaining.
Probably the most amazing aspect of last night’s win was the fact that UGA was able to overcome another atrocious performance from the free throw line, where the team made only 13 of 26 attempts. Had Georgia been more efficient from the charity stripe, they would have put this game away in regulation.
Regardless, this victory could not have come at a better time for a team that appeared to be fading towards the end of 2013.
Georgia gets Alabama at home on Saturday, and the biggest question now is whether they can match last night’s effort on a consistent basis as they continue their march through the 2014 SEC schedule.