Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs welcomed the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to the Classic City on Wednesday night, hoping to snap a three-game losing streak and continue their dominance over their in-state rivals in Stegeman Coliseum. Instead, against a Ramblin’ Wreck squad every bit as mediocre as the Athenians, Georgia proved incapable of preserving a halftime lead for the third straight outing, ultimately falling in a 68-56 embarrassment.
Though the game was statistically even for most of the initial 20 minutes of play, it was clear by intermission what each team was doing well. Seven Golden Tornado turnovers led to just two Bulldog points, probably because the Yellow Jackets were dominant inside: Georgia Tech led in rebounds (20-14) and points in the paint (16-8). The Red and Black countered with 18 points off the bench and eight free throws in 13 trips to the charity stripe. The Ramblin’ Wreck shot 42.9 per cent from the field (12 of 28), but the Engineers were ineffectual from beyond the arc (1 of 6) and at the line (0 of 1) in the first half.
Nevertheless, the Classic City Canines’ 29-25 edge at the break was erased by a 6-0 Georgia Tech run to start the second half. Torrid shooting by the visitors to open the second period enabled the Yellow Jackets to open up a ten-point lead with ten minutes to play. At that point, the Bulldogs proceeded to self-destruct, affording the Engineers too many second chances, failing to work the ball inside, fouling indiscriminately, and displaying an appalling lack of ball security. In the second half, the home team did nothing well and the visitors could do no wrong.
Consequently, for just the third time in the 17 seasons since the series moved from the Omni back to campus, the home team lost, permitting Georgia Tech to come away with its first men’s basketball win in Athens since 1976, when Ray Goff was the Bulldogs’ quarterback.
In the final four minutes, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope cut into the lead with a steal and a slam on which he drew a foul, but he turned right around and fouled the Yellow Jackets, effectively undoing the good he had done. The exchange was emblematic of Wednesday night’s Coliseum catastrophe, which dropped the Fox Hounds below .500 and led inevitably to the conclusion that a losing record is likely in a season that no longer can be classified as anything other than a rebuilding year, at best.