After a one-year absence due to a school-imposed postseason ban, the Bulldogs returned to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and whipped the Tigers 73-59.
"I knew the seniors were very, very anxious, and I was a little
worried about that," Coach Dennis Felton said. "I didn't want them to
get out of sorts because of that."
Turns out he had no reason to worry. The Tigers (14-14) had seven
turnovers before they scored their first point, and Georgia led 24-6
after a Chris Daniels 3-pointer with 11:42 left in the first half.
"(The seniors) were as focused and purposeful and consistently
to keep playing well and being productive as in any game I've ever
coached," Felton said.
It was Georgia's first win in the SEC Tournament since 1998, and it
moved the Bulldogs (16-12) into the second round of the tournament,
where they will face No. 8 Kentucky (23-4) for the third time this
season. Georgia beat the Wildcats twice during the regular season.
For all the fire the seniors showed Thursday, it was freshman Levi Stukes who led the Bulldogs. He hit 8 of 12 3-point attempts and scored
a career-high 25 points.
"That game would not have been as easy as it was had he not been on
fire," Felton said. "Levi is a good shooter and he's been a good
all year long, but nobody comes into a game expecting to go 8 of 12.
That's an extraordinary performance."
Stukes' eight threes tied the SEC Tournament single-game record of
Vanderbilt's Rick Jones and Florida's Greg Stolt and was just one short
of G.G. Smith's school record.
"He was on fire tonight," senior forward Jonas Hayes said.
"Get an ice
bag on his shoulder. With him shooting like that, you see a whole world
Daniels took the most advantage of those opportunities by tallying 18
points and 13 rebounds for his first double-double since Jan. 3. He also
scored his 1,000th career point, becoming the 34th Georgia player to do
The Bulldogs pushed their lead to 20 points at halftime as Rashad Wright hit Georgia's eighth 3-pointer as the first half buzzer sounded.
The victory avenged a 57-54 regular season loss Georgia suffered in
Auburn. In that game, Wright missed what would have been the tying shot
as time expired.
Overall Thursday, Georgia hit 13 3-pointers and shot 54.2 percent from
behind the arc. The Bulldogs also outrebounded the Tigers 39-30. Auburn
entered the game second in the SEC in rebounding margin at plus-five.
"Outrebounding them by nine was probably the biggest accomplishment
the game," Felton said.
Dawgs Thrash Tigers
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