Hoop Dawgs Down Jackets

ATHENS - Unranked and unappreciated Georgia ended Georgia Tech's perfect season and gave Dennis Felton his first signature win Saturday with an 83-80 double overtime victory.

A sellout Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 10,523 watched the Bulldogs win for the fourth time in five tries against the No. 3 Yellow Jackets in one of the most surprising outcomes in the building's history.

Georgia was coming off its worst loss in more than three years, a 76-55 decision at Pittsburgh, and also has a 20-point loss to Winthrop on its resume. The Yellow Jackets had won every previous game by at least 13 points.

"I think Georgia Tech is the best team in the country, and, when you find your way against them, that can be a signal to you about what could be," Bulldog coach Dennis Felton said.

All four of Georgia's seniors scored in double figures and two, point guard Rashad Wright and forward Damien Wilkins, played at least 49 minutes.

"We were worried about their four seniors asserting themselves, and they did," Tech coach Paul Hewitt said.

"Our four seniors, I was very grateful to them for the amount of leadership they showed to get this done," Felton said. "It's gratifying to see them stick to it and be rewarded like this."

Forward Jonas Hayes led the way with a career-high 25 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds. Wilkins, who played all 50 minutes, added 18 for the Bulldogs (8-3).

"We wanted to go out and prove to everybody that even though we are kind of down, we're still the best team in Georgia," said senior forward Chris Daniels, who had his fifth straight double-double.

Georgia Tech (12-1) was led by B.J. Elder, who had 25 but missed a 30-foot three-pointer at the final buzzer.

The first overtime featured three ties and a clutch 3-pointer from Jarrett Jack that forced the second overtime. Georgia took a 78-75 lead on two Wright free throws with 21.1 seconds remaining. Tech's Marvin Lewis missed a shot on the ensuing possession but Isma'il Muhammad pitched the offensive rebound out to Jack, who hit from the right side to make it 78-78.

"With their small rotation, I thought we would definitely wear them down," Jack said. "I thought the extended five minutes would be a backbreaker for them."

Surprisingly, it was the depth-challenged Bulldogs who held up better in a second overtime that saw just seven points. Hayes scored the first four points of the period and put the Bulldogs up 82-78 with 28 seconds remaining.

Jack tied the score six seconds later with a driving layup. Georgia freshman Levi Stukes then hit one free throw and the 83-80 score held up when Elder's final attempt clanged off the backboard, sending hundreds of Georgia fans streaming onto the court.

"It was a long game, but we've been working all season in case we come up on a game like that," said Wright, who had 16 points. "This was (the seniors) last game against Tech. We wanted to go out with a bang."

Daniels had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and he grabbed the game's most important rebound when he corralled a Jack miss while sitting on the court, leading to Stukes' final free throw.

Georgia played its best defense of the season in the first five minutes of the game. Georgia Tech didn't get its first points until Clarence Moore got a basket with 15:05 left in the game and didn't score again until the 13:52 mark. By that point, the Bulldogs had built a 10-2 lead.

"We have to learn from this because they really took it to us early on," Hewitt said.

Still, Jack insisted the Yellow Jackets didn't overlook Georgia.

"Nobody looked past this game," Jack said. "As soon as you stepped on the court, you felt the emotion of this game."

Both teams begin conference play later this week. The Bulldogs will try to take Saturday's momentum into a Wednesday road game at Tennessee, while the Yellow Jackets have a week off before opening the ACC schedule with a game at North Carolina.

The week's rest will give Tech ample time to shake off their first loss of the season, Jack said.

"It's fine with me," he said. "It's nothing you want, but if (the perfect season) is over, it's over."

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