As tonight’s game against Vandy wore on, it seemed as though UGA was going to avoid one of its second-half droughts that has become a staple of this team over the past few years. But, after a Kenny Gaines three-pointer that gave his team a 61-50 lead with 5:54 remaining, rigamortis set in for the Georgia offense. The Dawgs failed to convert another field goal for the rest of the night after that shot by Gaines, and had they not connected on 11 of their final 12 free throws, this game’s outcome certainly would have been different.
However, Georgia did come out of this game with its first win in Nashville against Vanderbilt since 2006, and more importantly, the Dawgs avoided digging themselves into a severe hole in conference play.
Down three of its top eight players and in desperate need of an SEC victory, Georgia received solid contributions from reserves J.J. Frazier and Taylor Echols. Frazier peppered the stat sheet, scoring 11 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 3 assists, and Echols chipped in 6 points on a pair of three-pointers.
With the Dawgs playing shorthanded, starters Kenny Gaines and Marcus Thornton took it upon themselves to step up and carry more of the offensive load, scoring 17 and 16, respectively. In addition to his offensive output, Thornton did a nice job of defending Vandy’s Damian Jones, who came into the game averaging over 16 points per game; yet, tonight against UGA he only managed 10 points on a woeful 3 for 10 shooting performance from the field.
Gaines, who missed significant minutes before the break due to foul trouble, didn’t waste any time when he reentered the game after intermission, scoring 14 of his 17 points in the second half. He was particularly hot from long-range, knocking down 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.
This victory sets UGA up with a chance to even its SEC record this Saturday when they host the Florida Gators in Athens.
And one final note (it’s late):
What kind of a world are we living in where Marcus Thornton can knock down two left-handed hook shots – a new part of his offensive repertoire – but also manage to blow a wide-open dunk on a break?