February 6, 2010

Bulldogs finish strong, sink Commodores

Georgia coach Mark Fox could barely speak as he sat down for the beginning of his post-game press conference following Saturday night's tilt against visiting Vanderbilt.

But he wasn't about to complain.

"This was much more like it," Fox said moments after his Bulldogs knocked off the 20th-ranked Commodores 72-58 before a Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 8,131. "The other night I was nauseous. Tonight I'll be able to eat."

No doubt it will be a full-course meal.

Just three nights after blowing a 15-point lead in a four-point loss (72-68) to Arkansas, Georgia (10-11, 2-6) played arguably its best second-half of the entire year, exploding for 49 points in the final 20 minutes to post its second SEC of the year.

"We beat a very good basketball team; a physical, very well-coached basketball team," Fox said. "When you beat a team that I have as much respect for like I do Vanderbilt, you need to feel pretty good about yourself."

Sophomore Trey Thompkins certainly had no complaints as the Bulldogs shook of a spotty first half - one which saw the team trail 26-23 - before rallying back to score their third victory over a Top 20-ranked team at Stegeman Coliseum this year.

"We pride ourselves on defense and when we don't play defense the right way it bothers us," said Thompkins, referring to the defense issues that cost them Bulldogs their game against Arkansas. "(Saturday) we came out and put extra emphasis on it; that we were going to defend to the best of our ability and we did so."

Unlike recent games when the Bulldogs fell apart down the stretch, Georgia left Vanderbilt (17-5, 6-2) in its wake.

Trailing 43-42 with 11:30 left, Georgia outscored the Commodores 25-12 over the next 8:28, capping the run with back-to-back 3-pointers by Vincent Williams and Ricky McPhee.

Williams' bucket gave the Bulldogs their first double-digit lead of the night after McPhee kicked the ball back out to the freshman who drained the shot from the top of the key.

McPhee then hit his bucket during Georgia's next trip down the court to make the score 58-54.

"The offense broke down, but I got the loose ball and was able to get it to Vinnie at the top of the key and he knocked down a huge shot," McPhee said. "The next time down the court, the offense broke down again but I was able to get the ball after a scramble and was able to hit a big shot, too. I'm just real happy with our performance and that we were more aggressive, which enabled us to finish this one off."

Williams' 3-pointer was one of two treys for the Miami native who played a career-high 16 minutes after starting guard Dustin Ware was limited after coming down with the flu.

Ware actually spent part of Friday night in the hospital hooked up to an IV. He still played 26 minutes and finished with 10 points.

"He (Williams) knew he was going to have to play a lot because Dustin's had the flu," Fox said. "He was on IV yesterday and I think again today. We worked with some crazy lineups thinking about how we could match up with rotations and Vincent gave us some significant minutes and some good plays."

Jermaine Beal led Vanderbilt with 21 points, followed by Brad Tinsley with 18.

The victory enabled Georgia to snap a three-game losing streak.

"All season we've needed a win to kind of keep us going because there was nothing expected of this group. We were unanimously picked where we were and we needed some success along the way to keep us going," Fox said. "I thought the last couple of days we were about as physically beat up and tired as we've looked and we only practiced about 40 minutes each day because we had no energy. We were much fresher today, but we did need a win."

Georgia travels to Auburn Wednesday before returning home next Saturday against South Carolina.

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