The Bulldogs hosted LSU (11-8, 3-3 SEC) at Stegeman Coliseum Wednesday evening for an important conference matchup in the meat of the SEC basketball schedule. And they came away victorious, though not without some anxious moments down the stretch. Georgia needed this one.
The Classic City Canines returned home after an “interesting” loss at Kentucky over the weekend. Georgia isn’t exactly a run-n-gun team, but somehow tallied 96 points at Rupp Arena, yet never really threatened. There’s no shame to losing to UK at their place, especially if you keep it relatively close. But that was the 2nd loss in 3 games for Mike White’s somewhat resurgent squad, and they could really use a quality win on the resume’ as teams position themselves for the post-season.
In comes LSU, another team rebuilding from some ahem program turmoil the last few years. All signs pointed to Georgia getting the win, especially with a solid raucous mid-week crowd and Kirby Smart in attendance. And the ‘Dawgs looked to do just that from the jump. They were able to overcome some early-game jitters and turnovers, and took the lead into the half.
And they didn’t lose that momentum after the break, as they extended the lead early in the 2nd half, at one point getting up by 9 over the Bayou Bengals. But as the clock wound down, the Tigers came roaring back. Helped by finally hitting some key 3 pointers, and a cold-shooting Georgia team, the lead was steadily chipped away in the final 3 minutes. An untimely foul by the Bulldogs gave LSU a 3 point play to take the lead with under 20 seconds remaining.
Jabri Abdur-Rahim brought the ball up quickly, and took a deep 3 with just under 10 ticks on the clock. It was off the mark, but that’s why you have a 7 footer on your team. And Georgia had that, as physical big man Russel Tchewa got in position, tipped the ball, and grabbed the biggest of his 11 rebounds on the night. A quick step and Tchewa made the putback with a mere 2.7 seconds left, and Georgia retook the lead by 1. Not as meaningful, but he was fouled on the play and converted the free throw to stretch the lead to 2 points.
LSU inbounded successfully from the baseline with a 3 quarter court baseball pass (possibly helped by a push-off), and Tiger Jordan Wright took a leaning 3 point shot as the horn sounded. The ball hit both sides of the rim, but Que was looking on and used some of his heavenly influence to keep the ball from going down. It pops out harmlessly, and Georgia secured it’s 11th home win of the season.
The win won’t put Georgia on any selection committee’s radar, but a loss would have severely hurt their chances for games in March. It also keeps the Bulldogs near the top of the conference and the uber-important SEC tournament seeding. And the relief from not letting a close one slip away, plus able to overcome late game shooting woes (like vs. Tennessee) are all plusses that they can take away.
Georgia wins, and Jim Harbaugh goes away to bother someone else. Not a bad day, but then it’s always a great day to be a Georgia Bulldog. And as always...