Dawgs get back on track with win over Bama

ATHENS – The gang that couldn't shoot straight could hardly miss Wednesday night. At least by its standards.

Georgia, which hadn't topped 80 points in its previous 45 conference games, whipped Alabama 88-79 in front of 5,572 fans at Stegeman Coliseum. It was the Bulldogs' highest point total against an SEC team since they beat Ole Miss 89-82 in February of 2003.

Georgia, the least accurate team in the SEC, hadn't shot better than 41 percent from the floor in five straight games but hit 47 percent of its shots Wednesday and was 15-of-17 from the free throw line on top of that.

Junior guard Levi Stukes led the Bulldogs (13-8, 3-5) with 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting, but sophomore forward Younes Idrissi was the big surprise, tying his career high with 16 points.

"They had some guys do some things tonight they hadn't done," Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. "That's probably because we played so bad defensively."

The Crimson Tide fell to 11-8 overall and 4-3 in the conference.

It was the third time Idrissi has scored more than 10 points in his career and the first time he's done it in a victory.

"It feels much different," he said.

Freshman guard Mike Mercer made his first collegiate start in place of sophomore Channing Toney and scored 13 points to go along with five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Toney came off the bench and scored 12 points.

"Obviously, we played better," Bulldog coach Dennis Felton said. "We shared the ball very, very well."

Georgia had 22 assists, its highest total against an SEC team this year and its best overall since Dec. 3 against Savannah State.

"I always try to look for my teammates. It's just that they were knocking down shots tonight," said point guard Sundiata Gaines, who had five assists.

The Bulldogs had a 13-point lead with 3:47 left, but Alabama scored eight points in the next minute to cut the lead to 75-70 on a 3-pointer by Jean Felix with 2:47 left. Georgia quickly stretched the lead back to nine with four straight points

Guard Ronald Steele led Alabama with 26 points. The Tide's starting post duo of Jermareo Davidson and Richard Hendrix combined for 28 points but only 10 in the first half as Georgia built an eight-point lead.

"We wanted to guard their post as a team," Felton said. "We were able to not allow their post-up game to become a factor."

When Terrance Woodbury hit a short jump shot to put Georgia up 48-42 with 18:20 left in the game, Georgia had topped its point total from each of the previous two Alabama games. In 2005, the Bulldogs lost 75-47 in Tuscaloosa. In 2004, they lost 45-42 in Athens.

NOTE: Freshman forward Kendrick Johnson didn't dress out for the game due an ankle injury. He hopes to return for the Vanderbilt game, but it's possible he may decide to have season-ending surgery. That option was considered before the season. "We're not definite on that decision," he said. "I'm still trying to see if I can bear it this season."

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