Dogs run out of road magic

"The way we gambled on that last play and tried to steal the ball, that's not Phi Beta Kappa basketball,'' - Harrick on Georgia's mistake at the end of the Vandy game

NASHVILLE, TENN. - Vanderbilt made its 3-point shots all day. Georgia couldn't quite make its 3-point shot when the game was on the line. Chris Daniels' last-second attempt from 22 feet hit the backboard, bounced to the front of the rim, hit the backboard again and then fell off the rim, leaving 15th-ranked Georgia two points shy of more road magic in an 86-84 loss to Vanderbilt Saturday.

When Daniels' shot finally fell no good, Vanderbilt students stormed the Memorial Gym court, almost trampling Georgia's Jarvis Hayes, who stayed face-down, bemoaning the loss.

"I was just upset more than anything we didn't win,'' Hayes said. Georgia missed an opportunity to put more distance between itself and second-place Florida, which lost at Arkansas Saturday. As a result, Georgia (16-4 overall, 5-2 in the Southeastern Conference) remains one-half game ahead of Florida.

Georgia has taken big road wins at Florida and Kentucky but Memorial Gym - a long-time nemesis - bit the Bulldogs again. Georgia now is 12-43 in Nashville.

"They were at home and they came up with the plays,'' Hayes said. "They're going home with the win. We're leaving with the loss. I guess you can't win all of them.''

Vanderbilt (13-6 overall, 3-3 in the SEC) has won three straight conference games. The Commodores beat Georgia with strong defense and, most of all, with 3-point shooting. Vandy made 7 of 13 3-pointers in the second half and shot 48.4 percent (15 of 31) for the game beyond the arc.

By comparison, Georgia made only 5 of 19 3-pointers (26.3 percent). Vanderbilt's decisive baskets, however, came inside. Taking advantage of a tired Steve Thomas, who was making his return from a three-game suspension, Brian Thornton scored three baskets inside in the final five minutes.

Georgia trailed by 10 points midway through the second half and by nine points with 5:48 left to play before finally rallying behind two 3-pointers by Jarvis Hayes. His second 3-pointer tied the game at 82-82 with 1:24 left to play, and Hayes' turnaround jumped tied the game again at 84-84 with 36 seconds left.

But Vanderbilt dribbled down the clock and was ready to pounce when Georgia made its last mistake - Ezra Williams trying for a steal. Williams' move helped set up a back-door lay-in basket by Jason Holwerda with 4.9 seconds left.

Georgia quickly brought the ball up the floor, and Daniels final attempt teased the Bulldogs' bench and scared the home fans before falling harmlessly to the floor.

"I saw it hit the backboard and roll around,'' Daniels said. "It was their day I guess.''

Added Georgia guard Rashad Wright: "I thought we had it. I thought it was going to bounce one more time and drop in.''

Harrick bemoaned two mental mistakes in the final two minutes: A foul by Williams sent Brendan Plavich - an 82.6 percent free-throw shooter - to the line for two easy points with 1:45 left to play, and then Williams' attempt for a steal from Thornton helped clear the lane for Holwerda.

"The way we gambled on that last play and tried to steal the ball, that's not Phi Beta Kappa basketball,'' Harrick noted.

Brendan Plavich made 6 of 9 3-pointers and scored a game-high 22 points for Vanderbilt. Chuck Moore added 16 points, including three 3-pointers. Sam Howard hit four 3-pointers, all in the first half. Also key for the Commodores were the 12 points and seven rebounds from Thornton, who is playing a bigger role since Georgia beat Vanderbilt 82-69 in Athens on Jan. 5.

Vandy's Matt Freije, the SEC Player of the Week, was held to 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting. Williams led Georgia with 19 points. Hayes added 16 points on 5-for-14 shooting.

Daniels struggled through a rare off game, scoring only nine points with three rebounds.

"We played horrible the whole game but we still stuck around,'' Williams said.

Georgia led 40-37 at the half after claiming a big advantage of nine points at 32-23. With Howard leading the way, Vanderbilt stayed close. Howard made 4 of 7 3-point attempts for 12 points in the first half. Georgia will play at South Carolina Wednesday night at 7:30.

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