The Georgia Bulldogs had a simple assignment on Wednesday night. If they beat the LSU Tigers, they would be virtually assured of a berth in the NCAA Tournament, to which they have not gone without a tornado-fueled fluke or subsequently-sanctioned shenanigans in at least a decade. A loss, by contrast, might well have burst the Bulldogs’ bubble and consigned them to the ignominy of the NIT.
For the first few minutes of the contest, Georgia appeared appallingly unfocused, but it later became clear that the Athenians had opted to allow the opposition to make its traditional second-half run at the start of the first half instead. It made for a tense opening stanza, after which the Red and Black came roaring back to claim a narrow halftime lead. Following intermission, the Fox Hounds took charge of the contest, answering every Louisiana State bucket with one of the Bulldogs’ own to maintain a double-digit lead.
Georgia scored a whopping 23 points off of 18 LSU turnovers, and, despite the Tigers’ red-hot start, the Red and Black out-shot their guests, sinking 26 of 56 shots from the field (46.4%) and draining six of 18 from beyond the arc (33.3%). The Athenians topped it all off with a 15-of-18 performance from the free throw line (83.3%). The Hoop Dogs outdueled the visitors in all three categories.
The Classic City Canines also got the better of the rebounding battle, pulling down 32 boards to Louisiana State’s 25. Georgia topped it all off by being dominant on the inside, throwing down 34 points in the paint to the Bayou Bengals’ meager twelve. The home team got 14 points out of Travis Leslie, 15 out of Dustin Ware, and 16 out of Gerald Robinson.
The night did not begin as planned, but it ended the way it was supposed to end. The Bulldogs got their 20th win, the seniors got a nice ovation, Matt Bucklin got his elusive first basket, and Selection Sunday awaits. In the final home game of the year, the Classic City Canines didn’t close out the campaign; rather, they ensured that the season will continue.