Dawgs top Rebels for third-straight SEC win

Georgia’s inability to hit free throws at the end of the game left the door open for Ole Miss in this one, giving the Rebels a chance to tie, down 63-60, with only 54 seconds left on the clock.  However, Charles Mann, who was guilty of missing the front end of two one-and-one’s late, made amends by drawing a heady charge on Mississippi guard Jarvis Summers.

The Dawgs went on to make their next 6 attempts from the line, and UGA came away with the 69-62 conference win – their third in a row.

Georgia began the game playing rather sloppy, possibly still feeling the effects of a post-Florida win hangover.  The Dawgs looked nothing like the team that hit its first 7 shots against the Gators in opening minutes of this contest.  In tonight’s game, UGA missed all 7 of its three-point tries before the break. Heading into the locker room, Georgia was only connecting on 33% of its shots from the floor as a team.  Before a Cameron Forte layup that brought his team within 3 points with 8:15 left before intermission, Coach Mark Fox’s team had been mired in a nearly 9-minute slump in which they failed to convert a field goal.

Contributing to Georgia’s first half struggles was a general lack of effort on the glass. Georgia entered game with the best defensive rebounding percentage in the conference, yielding just 11 offensive rebounds a night to opponents.  However, Ole Miss nabbed 7 offensive boards in the first half, giving them extra opportunities to score.

Marcus Thornton, who led the Dawgs in scoring, carried his team in the first half, scoring 11 of his 16 points.

However, Mark Fox must have given one heck of a halftime speech because his team came out of the break playing with some serious fire.  UGA opened up the first 5 minutes of the second with a 15-8 run that saw them reclaim the lead after a post-move by Marcus Thornton with 15 minutes remaining.  Charles Mann, who was held scoreless before the break due to foul trouble, scored 8 of his 12 points during this stretch of the game. Additionally, after grabbing just 4 offensive rebounds in the contest’s first 20 minutes, Georgia pulled down 3 offensive boards in this same span.

Once again, Georgia had four players – Thornton, Mann, Kenny Gaines and J.J. Frazier – finish the game in double-figures.  Cameron Forte, who gave Coach Fox quality minutes off the bench this evening, nearly made the fifth player to reach double-digits, scoring 9 points to go along with 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.

The Dawgs got their act together in the final 20 minutes of this contest, hitting almost 50% from the floor, and yielding just 4 offensive boards to the Rebels.

Ole Miss’s Stefan Moody led all scorers with 26 points.  UGA limited Jarvis Summers – who nets nearly 14 a night – to only 7 points in Athens.

Tonight’s victory gives Georgia another quality win against an RPI Top 50 opponent.  In his latest Bracketology this week, Joe Lunardi had UGA pitted as a 10-seed; however, Georgia’s stock surely will go up following this game.

This victory puts the Dawgs in a three-way tie for third place in the league.  For now.  Should Tennessee lose its game later tonight against South Carolina, Georgia would be locked into a four-way tie for second.

Saturday, Coach Fox’s team has a golden opportunity to steal a road conference win in Starkville against Missy State, a team that has started out just 1-3 in SEC play.