Remember the Notre Dame game? Evidently, this was a repeat of that, only with the good guys holding on to win this time.
After holding a commanding halftime lead, Mark Fox’s Hoop Dogs fell behind in the second half, ultimately prevailing by a 66-64 final margin to run their record for the season to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in Stegeman Coliseum. Trey Thompkins led the way for the Red and Black, adding a trio of blocks and a pair of steals to a performance that included nine rebounds and 20 points.
Georgia turned the ball over 13 times to the Blazers’ 11 and sunk only three of ten shots from beyond the arc while allowing UAB to hit seven of 17 three-point baskets, but the Bulldogs made up for it by pulling down ten more rebounds (37-27) and tacking on ten more points off the bench (13-3).
The Red and Black shot 50 per cent from the field (28 of 56), while Alabama-Birmingham saw only 25 of 57 two-pointers fall. Despite giving the ball away more frequently, the Hoop Hounds turned their takeaways into more points, putting 21 ticks on the scoreboard to the visitors’ 17 points off of turnovers.
Perhaps most encouraging is the fact that Georgia shot 77.8 per cent from the free throw line, including four for four shooting from the charity stripe by Jeremy Price and Gerald Robinson in the final 66 seconds to render moot Jamarr Sanders’s three-point basket at the buzzer.
The Bulldogs held a commanding 38-23 lead with two minutes to play in the first half and remained out in front by eleven points at the break, but the Blazers whittled the home team’s advantage down to nothing before claiming a 57-56 edge on an Aaron Johnson free throw inside the final four minutes. Georgia deserves credit for winning a thriller, but it is cause for concern that Georgia had to win a thriller.
After a year of near-misses last season, the Bulldogs have found a way to win a close one; now they need to learn how to put teams away. If they don’t, more than a few of these sorts of games aren’t going to go their way. For now, winning ugly is good enough, but winning ugly won’t work when the Red and Black get to the meat of their schedule.