Tigers Tamed - Georgia wins another thriller

ATHENS – Moments before Sunday's tip off, Stephen Brophy, the brother of former Georgia basketball player Kevin Brophy, capped a pregame ceremony by telling the Bulldogs to "go kick LSU's butt."

Two hours later, he and the rest of Bulldog Nation were more than happy to settle for a nail-biter. Senior guard Levi Stukes hit a 24-foot 3-pointer with .6 seconds left to give Georgia a 57-54 win over the No. 21 Tigers in front of the second straight sellout crowd in Stegeman Coliseum.

It was a dramatic finish to emotional week for the Brophy family, which traveled from its home in Australia to spend a week in the state where Kevin spent his final year of high school and two years of college. On Wednesday, the family saw Georgia beat Kentucky 78-69 in overtime. On Saturday, it was in Savannah to see Kevin's high school alma mater, Memorial Day, get an upset win on a last-second shot. And then came Sunday.

"It's storybook stuff," Georgia head coach Dennis Felton said. "I think all of us just feel really, really grateful that we were able to help add something to something already so special. It's really, really gratifying to be able to make it such a memorable experience for them."

Kevin Brophy, a 21-year-old walk-on who would have been a junior this season, died in a July car accident. Georgia's motto all season has been "Do It For Broph" and what it may have done for Broph on Sunday is get itself ranked for the first time since March of 2003.

The Bulldogs (13-6, 5-2 SEC) have now won five of their last six and have two wins this year over ranked teams. (Georgia beat then-No. 16 Gonzaga in December.)

The Associated Press poll will be released today. If the Bulldogs are in it, they'll have Stukes to thank. His basket brought to mind his game-winner last year against South Carolina, and Brophy was the first player there to congratulate him after that shot, Stukes said.

"When I think about my career here and the shots I made, this shot tonight is going to be the one I remember the most because Kevin wasn't here to share that moment with me again," said Stukes, who set the school's career record for 3-pointers attempted (589). "It's kind of hard for me having all the success we're having and not having Kevin here to share it."

Stukes' shot, which gave him a team-high 16 points, was Georgia's eighth trey of the second half. The Bulldogs hit just one, two-point field goal after halftime.

Neither team led by more than six in the second half of a game that featured seven ties and five lead changes. Georgia tied the game at 54-54 on a putback dunk by Mike Mercer with 2:22 left. The teams then traded turnovers until Georgia ended up with the ball and called a timeout with 30 seconds left.

Point guard Sundiata Gaines jokingly told Stukes during that break that he shouldn't plan on getting the ball.

"He laughed and said he was going to take a pull-up 3-pointer as time ran off," Stukes said. "I kind of laughed and said just remember that I'm over here."

Georgia forward Takais Brown had his second double-double of the SEC schedule with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

LSU, which lost its third straight to fall to 13-7 overall and 2-4 in the league, was led by 300-pound forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who had 18 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high six assists.

The Tigers scored only two points after a Davis 3-pointer put them ahead 52-49 with 6:40 left. LSU took just two shots and turned the ball over four times in the final five minutes of play.

The Bulldogs' last four games have been decided by three or fewer points or in overtime.

"I'm not the superstitious type," Felton said. "It's kind of larger than that. Kevin and Kevin's loss inspires us, and I think has had something to do with helping us along in our maturation process."

Brophy's parents Eamonn and Anne, brothers Stephen and Aidan and sister Linda stood at halfcourt for a 10-minute ceremony before the game. Georgia showed a video commemorating Brophy in which Felton referred to him as "the most likeable guy on our team."

Athletic director Damon Evans presented the Brophy family with an honorary game ball and announced to the crowd the formation of the Kevin Brophy Memorial Scholarship.

"You will always be tied to us," Evans told the family.

Eamonn Brophy, Kevin's father, feels the same way.

"It was emotional," he said, "but we're very, very proud of what he achieved and also very, very proud to be a part of this great university."

Dave Bliss, Brophy's roommate and closest friend on the team, said the start of the game, when Georgia fell behind 13-2 and 21-9, was a little too emotional for him and his teammates.

"I'm feeling kind of overwhelmed right now with everything," he said. "That beginning was tough to get it going. We really wanted to play well at the beginning and we were kind of panicking and trying too hard almost. We were able to settle down and concentrate on what we needed to do and pull out the win."

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