February 20, 2010

Dawgs rally back to topple Tide

Down 13 points with 11:39 to play, Georgia was scuffling so bad against visiting Alabama that even head coach Mark Fox wasn't sure if his Bulldogs would be able to overcome their double-digit hole.

Not so fast.

Thanks to a renewed deterimination and some clutch play from Trey Thompkins and Dustin Ware, the Bulldogs roared back to overcome the Crimson Tide 76-70 before a Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 8,510.

"There are a lot of times in a game when you feel like 'Gosh, things just aren't going our way,'" Fox said. "But today was a good win. I'd just like to thank the team for the determination that they showed; the grit they showed in the second half."

It was one of the better comebacks by the Bulldogs (12-13, 4-8), who improved to 11-3 at Stegeman this year.

Especially when you consider the issues Georgia was having from the free throw line.

The Bulldogs came into Saturday leading the conference in free throw shooting, but made just 2 of 12 before Chris Barnes sank a pair as Georgia closed within 60-56 with 6:25 to go.

But thats when the Bulldogs' fortunes began to change - both from the line and in regards to the game as five straight points from Thompkins and five by Ware - including a key 3-pointer with 1:24 to play - enabled Georgia to pull out the victory.

"You just keep playing hard and don't give up," said Thompkins, who finished with a game-high 21 points and pulled down a career-best 17 rebounds. "There was a lot of time left on the clock and a lot of possessions left in the game. We're bound to make mistakes and so are they. We just kept telling ourselves let's hope they make a couple more than we do and tonight it just so happened we took advantage of what they did."

As for Georgia's issues from the free throw line, the Bulldogs certainly finished strong, converting 11 of 12 over the final six and half minutes, including the last nine in a row.

"We have an inability to defend and rebound down the stretch. It's a reoccurring thing," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "It cost us this game just it has some other games this season. We need to control the things we can control like blocking out and rebounding - the things that affect winning. When the game is on the line, it seems we just don't do it."

The loss dropped Alabama to 14-12 overall, 4-8 in the SEC West.

Thompkins' 21 points led four Bulldogs in double-figures. He was followed by Travis Leslie with 16, Ricky McPhee with 13 and Barnes who added a season-high 10.

Torrance Mikhail scored 20 to top the Crimson Tide, which trailed Georgia 30-29 at the half.

Georgia returns to action Thursday when the Bulldogs travel to Vanderbilt in search of their first SEC road victory of the year.

Fox believes his squad is getting close.

"This for our program is progress. Every game play is a chance to make progress. These kids understand that we still have not gotten over the hump on the road," Fox said. "We are a lot better team away from home than we were the first couple of trips though. We just have to keep making steps forward and today was a step forward because we beat a good team. Thursday's game against Vanderbilt is another chance for us because we are going to play a very good team on the road."

NOTES: Alabama's bench outscored the Bulldogs 25-9. … Georgia is now 4-0 in league play when playing at home on Saturdays. ….Georgia's next home game is Saturday at 4 p.m. when rival Florida comes to Stegeman Coliseum.

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