It's rare to give up only twelve points in a half of college basketball. Rarer still to do so then almost still lose the game. And it's categorically unheard of for fans to be happy after such a storyline plays out. Yet here we are, smiling about the fact that Georgia survived surrendering a fifteen point lead to trail late, sliding out of Manhattan, Kansas with a 50-46 win and an 8-3 record.
It's hard to explain how badly Kansas State played offensively in the first half. The 12 point effort was the fewest points scored by K State at home in a half... ever. They turned the ball over 16 times. They shot 21.7% from the field. The only things that kept it close were Georgia's similarly poor shooting (28%) and some decent Wildcat rebounding. A better performance by the 'Dawgs early might have put this one out of reach at intermission.
But it was not to be, as Kansas State mounted a serious comeback in the second half, taking a three point lead with under three minutes to go. The Wildcats tightened up considerably on offense, cut out the turnovers, and very nearly won it. That was before an improbable 3 pointer by Nema Djurisic with 1:05 left put the 'Dawgs up 47-46. The Red and Black then finished things off by hitting three of four from the line.
Charles Mann led all Bulldog scorers, though I use the term "scorer" relatively. Mann went for seventeen points, Marcus Thornton dropped in eleven, and they were the only Dawgs in double figures. Nevertheless, a win is a win, and it's critical to win games on the road, when you're not shooting your best. Georgia found a way to win this one, and that's something we might not have been able to say about prior Bulldog squads.
Digging deeper into a currently 8-3 record, none of the losses is that bad. Gonzaga is obviously a top 10 squad. Minnesota is looking strong early, and if not a tournament team may well be NIT material. Georgia Tech looks like a middle of the pack team in the ACC. This is a marked improvement from last season, when Georgia's terrible OOC performance followed them all the way to Selection Sunday.
Add in solid wins over the likes of Seton Hall, Colorado, and Kansas State, and Georgia has a resume that makes them look like a tournament contender heading into conference play. That part of the schedule will kick off after a tune up Satuday in the Stege against 9-6 Norfolk State.