Charles Mann was not named to either of the preseason All-SEC teams, but something tells me he may be listed on one of them when the season ends.
With the game knotted up at 60-60 and just 1.5 seconds left on the clock, Mann put his team and Stegeman Coliseum on his back as he stepped to the free throw line after drawing a foul on Mississippi’s Dwight Coleby.
Charles missed the first, giving the Rebels a glimmer of hope that the game might extend to overtime.
Mann made the second shot though and UGA secured the 61-60 victory after a desperation pass by Ole Miss sailed out of bounds.
Charles Mann attacked the basket relentlessly on Saturday, netting 12 of his 17 points from the free throw line. In addition to the scoring, he also grabbed 8 rebounds to go along with 4 assists.
Marshall Henderson may have owned the first half, but Kenny Gaines ruled the second.
Gaines took over at a point in the game when Georgia was struggling to find offense against the Rebel’s zone. The sophomore spent most of the first half on the bench dealing with two fouls, and he only managed 2 points going into the intermission.
After the break though, Gaines lit up Stegeman, connecting on 5 three-pointers and finishing with a team-high 21 points. He tied the game twice on clutch shots from beyond the arc in the second half before sinking a monster three from the corner while being fouled – Gaines completed the four-point play and UGA had a 41-40 lead with 11:41 left in the game.
Of all of Gaines’s threes, none may have been bigger than the one he hit from the wing with only 47 seconds on the clock that put the Dawgs up 60-57.
Credit Georgia for its effort in this game – the Dawgs trailed 26-15 with only 4:18 remaining before the intermission following a three from Derrick Millinghaus. At this point in the game UGA looked lost on offense and defense, where they had already yielded 4 three-pointers to Henderson.
Georgia came back though, and the Bulldogs actually enjoyed a brief 11-point lead of their own following a pair of free throws from Charles Mann that bolstered the Georgia advantage to 53-42 with 6:01 left.
Even when that lead evaporated and Ole Miss was on top 57-55 with less than 2 minutes remaining, Georgia never stopped fighting.
UGA owned the glass today, out-rebounding the Rebels by a count of 49-34. Georgia brought down 18 offensive boards, none of which was bigger than the one Marcus Thornton snagged before kicking the ball out to Kenny Gaines for his late lead-changing three. Thornton led all UGA players with 11 rebounds to go along with his 7 points and 3 blocks.
This win gives Georgia sole possession of third place in the SEC at 8-4, and the Dawgs are now 14-10 overall.
Coach Mark Fox’s team has now won four conference games in a row as they prepare to travel to Knoxville for a showdown with Tennessee on Tuesday night.
If the SEC tournament started today, UGA would enjoy a bye all the way to the quarterfinal round of the bracket.
That seed is Georgia’s to lose at this point.