In a game that looked very similar to Georgia's loss at Auburn a few weeks ago, Georgia escaped Baton Rouge with a 55-54 win thanks, in part, to Rashad Wright's 19-foot jumpshot with 22 seconds to play in the game.
With the win, Georgia, now 20-7 and 9-5 in the rough and rumble SEC East, moved into a three-way tie with both Kentucky and Florida. Kentucky beat Arkansas at home and Florida lost at Alabama on a buzzer beating lay up. The Tide has now clinched at least a tie of the SEC regular season title.
Georgia did not play very well, however they did win. And with the win they move closer to winning the SEC East regular season title. Kentucky and Florida still have to play one another in the last week of the season. Georgia hosts South Carolina and travels to Tennessee to finish out the SEC season. Both Tennessee and South Carolina has losing SEC records.
As sloppy as the game was, Georgia still managed to shoot 41 percent from the field. The Dawgs were, however, out-rebounded 33-31. LSU also shot 17 free throws to Georgia's 5. All of Georgia's free throws came in the second half and the 5 total free throws is the lowest amount shot in a game by the Dawgs this season. The previous low came against Hawaii when the Dawgs shot only 12 free throws.
"We never got to the foul line," remarked a slightly frustrated Georgia head coach Jim Harrick.
Harrick has turned the Georgia program around in two seasons. In the 1999-2000 season the Dawgs finished 10-20 and did not play in the post season for the first time in four years. Now Georgia has the chance to go to consecutive NCAA tournaments for the first time since Tubby Smith lead Georgia to the Sweet Sixteen in 1997 and to a number three seed in 1998.
Reaching the 20-win plateau is rare in Georgia basketball history. Only 10 times in school history have the Dawgs finished with 20 wins. And only 5 times in school history have the Dawgs won 20 games in the regular season.
The 20th win was not possible, however, without the clutch shooting of Rashad Wright. LSU was determined not to let Jarvis Hayes beat them in the final minute. Without Hayes as an option Wright stepped up and nailed the 19-footer that propelled Georgia to the win.
The win was secured when Chris Daniels, with impressive defensive pressure, forced LSU's Ronald Dupree to turn the ball over on the baseline. Daniels also forced a bad shot from Dupree on the possession before Wright hit his game winning shot. Daniels said that he knew what was coming when he forced the final turnover of the game.
"They ran the same play the possession before. I was looking for it."
Georgia will also be looking to win its final home game against South Carolina Wednesday night.