Dawgs' win over Vandy unlikely

ATHENS - Almost 6,500 people watched Georgia play a basketball game in Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. One of them can retire if they'll sell Disney a movie script based on what they saw.

The Bulldogs, one of the most undermanned teams in the modern history of the Southeastern Conference, played without its leading scorer and still won its first league game of the season, beating Vanderbilt 68-59.

It improbable victory had all the little touches the movie people love. Georgia started a walk-on guard from Melbourne, Australia, and he hit three second-half 3-pointers, including two from at least 23 feet away, and was his team's leading scorer. Bulldog guard Sundiata Gaines, a 46 percent free throw shooter, hit 4 of 6 from the stripe in the final four minutes to seal the victory. And Georgia rebounded from a first half in which it shot 25 percent to shoot 58.3 percent in the second.

"It's a very prideful win," Coach Dennis Felton said. "Having been able to accomplish it without Levi makes it that much more prideful. I hope it feeds into our commitment. We did a lot of things today better than we have all year."

Georgia (7-8, 1-4 SEC) entered the game having lost five straight and seemed to be more of a threat to go through the SEC season winless than to beat the Commodores, who have wins this year over Tennessee and Alabama.

"It's a big relief because you had people saying we weren't going to win a game in the SEC," Brophy said. "It's a great feeling to prove those people wrong."

Stukes, who averages 16.3 points per game but sat Saturday after spraining his right ankle on Thursday, said he expects to be ready forTuesday's game at Florida. But it's no guarantee he'll jump back into the starting lineup.

Brophy not only scored a game-best 19 points, but he did it while taking just seven shots. He was 5 of 7 overall and 4 of 6 from behind the 3-point line. Felton said he doesn't know if Stukes will be ready and wouldn't discuss the starting lineup either way.

"We always decide who's going to play based on who is playing the best and the hardest in practice and in games," he said.

Stukes has only himself to blame.

"He told me himself, ‘You have to look for your shot today,'" Brophy said.

The Bulldogs trailed 26-24 at halftime but tied the game at 28-28 with a Steve Newman basket with 18:29 remaining. They took their first lead when Brophy made a steal and took it in for a layup with 13:25 left that put his team up 38-36. Brophy extended that lead to four points with 11:00 left when he hit a 23-footer as the shot clock expired.

Vanderbilt tied the game at 50-50 thanks to two free throws by Corey Smith with 5:32 remaining, but Brophy hit a 24-footer on the next trip down the floor, again with the shot clock expiring, to give the Bulldogs the lead for good.

"He came through for me," Stukes said of Brophy. "Just sitting there on the bleachers, I was proud of my team."

The Commodores (11-7, 2-3) lost their third straight. They hit just 2 of 15 3-pointers after entering the game as the SEC's leading long-range team. It was a season-low in both 3-pointers made and attempted, and Felton said he was more impressed that his team limited the Commodores attempts. Vanderbilt was averaging 25 per game.

"Obviously, we're very disappointed with the way we played today," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "I am extremely disappointed in our performance after a week off."

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