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Georgia watches lead slip away again against Tennessee

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A poor second half doomed the Bulldogs once again.

NCAA Basketball: Georgia at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that in many ways was a microcosm of their season, Georgia saw an early lead slip away in the final moments of a 66-61 loss to Tennessee. The Volunteers capture a share of the SEC regular season championship while the Bulldogs head into the conference tournament with two straight disappointing losses.

The first half couldn’t have gone much better for Georgia who knocked down seven three-pointers and played with poise and physicality. Yante Maten put the Bulldogs up 37-27 with 2:27 remaining in the first half and the Bulldogs would close with a 42-34 advantage at the intermission.

However, things tightened up considerably in the second half. Georgia pushed the lead to 45-36 with a jumper by Rayshaun Hammonds before the Volunteers started to chip away. A dunk by Admiral Schofield cut the lead to 45-44 with 13:44 remaining. The Bulldogs went over seven minutes without scoring which allowed the Volunteers back into the game. Lamonte Turner tied the game at 49-49 with just over 10 minutes remaining.

Neither team was able to gain any separation the rest of the way. Georgia had a chance with 3:58 remaining when Yante Maten was fouled on a three-point attempt by Tennessee’s Grant Williams. The Bulldogs caught another break as Williams missed a lay up inside on the next possession. Derek Ogbeide grabbed the board as Williams lost his balance and tumbled into Ogbeide’s legs. Williams was whistled for his fifth foul and headed to the bench with 3:33 remaining.

Maten made up for those missed free throws on the next possession knocking down a three-pointer to put Georgia up four with just 3:10 remaining. However, Turner answered right back with a three of his own to keep the Volunteers alive.

That would prove costly as Jordan Bowden was fouled on a drive by Hammonds with 1:01 remaining and calmly sank both free throws to give Tennessee back the lead. The Bulldogs tried to go to Maten on the next possession but Kyle Alexander made a nice play jumping Tyree Crump’s pass from behind for the steal. Schofield put the Volunteers up three with a turnaround jumper over Nicholas Claxton on the next possession.

Unlike on Wednesday against Texas A&M, Mark Fox opted to call a time out with 11 seconds remaining to set up a final shot. However, no good look materialized on the final possession and Turtle Jackson’s desperation attempt came up empty.

Maten led the Bulldogs with 18 points and nine rebounds. Hammonds finished with 12 on 5-8 shooting. Jackson added 10 including a pair of three-pointers. Schofield led all scorers with 23 while Williams pitched in 22 before fouling out late.

Georgia finishes the season with a disappointing 16-14 record and a 7-11 mark in conference play. They will be slated for a Wednesday game in next week’s conference tournament.