In many respects, Saturday’s contest at Thompson-Boling Arena was a typical game for the Georgia Bulldogs. The Red and Black leapt out to an early lead, building up a 22-7 advantage to open their critical showdown with the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville. Just as the Fox Hounds held John Jenkins in check in the early going against the Vanderbilt Commodores in last Wednesday night’s loss, so, too, did they keep Scotty Hopson off the board for almost eleven minutes.
Then, with equal predictability, Hopson went off, pouring in a career-best point tally that matched his jersey number (32) as the Big Orange came roaring back from their early deficit to move out in front by a 45-43 count. There, though, is where the Hoop Dogs deviated from the established script, because they did the darnedest thing.
Having taken a punch to the mouth, Georgia punched back, scoring 36 second-half points to Tennessee’s 38 in order to preserve the lead for the full 40 minutes of play. The Athenians kept punching back until they emerged victorious from a hostile arena with the 69-63 triumph that avenged their earlier loss to the Vols (in which, incidentally, they got absolutely hosed) and revived their fading hopes of receiving an NCAA Tournament bid.
Four Bulldogs finished in double figures, with the Red and Black obtaining 20 points from Jeremy Price, 15 from Travis Leslie, 12 from Dustin Ware, and 11 from Trey Thompkins. Georgia shot 40 per cent from beyond the arc (4 of 10), over 50 per cent from the field (24 of 47), and over 70 per cent from the free throw line (17 of 24). The latter tally included four clutch foul shots from Ware in the final 40 seconds. The Fox Hounds also carded nine steals to the Volunteers’ five and pulled down 37 rebounds to the Big Orange’s 28.
In short, Georgia deserved to win this game, and did. It’s pretty cool when that happens, but Mark Fox was far from satisfied, grousing afterwards that "we tried to make everything hard and we made none of it hard." Having correctly stated his case as a taskmaster that his team still had work to do, Coach Fox allowed himself the momentary indulgence of expressing his justified pleasure at the outcome when he stated on Twitter, "Good road win. I'm proud of our kids."
Yes it was, Coach, and so are we.