NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Vanderbilt has always been a difficult venue for the Georgia basketball team and that trend continued Wednesday night as the Comoodores dropped the 24th-ranked Bulldogs 73-66.
It has been five years since Georgia won in Nashville, as the Bulldogs drop to 11-46 all-time on the road vs. the Commodores and saw their SEC-leading nine-game winning streak come to an end. Georgia had not lost in nearly seven weeks, dating back to the Nov. 26 setback to Temple in the Old Spice Classic.
"We just didn't play well enough to win," said head coach Mark Fox. "I didn't like the feel of our team today, starting in shoot-around, and Vanderbilt did play well. We also didn't start well, so you're playing from behind the entire night. This was due to happen - we've played so well lately and our time was up. We got in terrible foul trouble with Jeremy [Price] and Chris [Barnes]. We just didn't play well enough to win."
Georgia got double-doubles from Travis Leslie (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Trey Thompkins (13 points, 13 rebounds), while Gerald Robinson scored 20 points for the Bulldogs, who drop to 12-3 (1-1). Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli and John Jenkins both scored 18 as VU also moves to 12-3 (1-1).
It was a tightly contested first half, with Vanderbilt guarding just a two-point lead at 22-20 following a jumper for Leslie with 10:52 to go. But the Commodores went off on an 11-2 run heading up to the 6:09 mark, as Vanderbilt's Brad Tinsley hit a three that made it 33-22 and the home team began pulling away.
Thompkins corralled a perfect Robinson lob pass for a tip-in under the basket to make it 33-26, and the Bulldogs cut it back to just a four-point deficit, 34-30, on a jumper from Sherrard Brantley with 2:57 remaining in the first.
Vanderbilt did not hit a field goal for a five minute span late before that drought was snapped on a lay-up for Ezeli that pushed Vandy back up by eight. The Commodores would make two free throws and Thompkins hit a jumper with 32 seconds to play to send the teams into the locker rooms with Vanderbilt out in front by eight, 40-32.
Thompkins and Robinson each had nine points at the intermission, while Leslie already had eight and six rebounds.
Robinson cut the lead to five, 44-39, on an old-fashioned three point play with 17:36 to go in the second frame, but Vanderbilt was back up 10 moments later as Ezeli made a lay-up, was fouled, and made his free throw to make it 49-39 with 16:48 left in the second.
After Donte Williams converted on a jumper with 12:29 to go, Georgia had scored on six of its last seven trips to hang around, down just seven at 56-49. Robinson followed a Connor Nolte miss to make it a five-point game, and it was just three, 56-53, with 10:34 left as Robinson hit two free throws next time down. But another Vanderbilt run, this time to the tune of 7-0, put the home team back up by 10, 63-53, with 9:09 to go on a long three for Jenkins.
Vanderbilt matched their largest lead of the night at 11, 71-60, on a free throw for Jenkins with 5:03 left. A late three for Dustin Ware with 3:21 to go gave the Bulldogs life, pulling to within seven at 71-64, but the Commodores wouldn't let it get any closer as they held on for the 73-66 win.
Georgia entered the Associated Press Top 25 poll this week for the first time since 2003, coming in at No. 24 following last Saturday's 77-70 upset over then-No. 10 Kentucky in Stegeman Coliseum. Georgia had been going for its first 10-game winning streak since the 1947-48 season.
Georgia will remain on the road and travel to take on Ole Miss on Sat., Jan. 15 at 5 p.m. ET, televised on Fox Sports Net, before returning home to face Tennessee on Jan. 18.