Georgia stuns Cats; Face State Tonight

ATLANTA – Zac Swansey had made eight 3-pointers in his college career before the biggest shot of his life left his hands Saturday afternoon.

He has now made nine, and Georgia is headed to the semifinals of this displaced SEC Tournament.

Swansey took an inbounds pass with 8.8 seconds remaining, dribbled to Georgia's 3-point line, spun off a defender and arced in a nothing-but-net shot with 1.2 seconds left that pushed the Bulldogs past Eastern Division No. 2 seed Kentucky 60-56 in overtime in Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

"It felt good all the way," said Swansey, a freshman point guard. "It's one of those things you dream about doing, hitting game-winners. Spinning like that is something you really practice on your own in the gym. It came to work today."

Regular Georgia point guard Sundiata Gaines watched the shot from the bench, having fouled out with 1:33 left in regulation. He was well aware of the fact that Swansey is a 25 percent 3-point shooter and hadn't made a trey in seven games before the final shot.

"I was saying, ‘Please, please, please go in, please go in,'" Gaines said. "I looked and looked and looked. It seemed like it took forever, but then it went in the hoop. It's meant to be."

It's hard to know at this point which is the stranger sight, the SEC basketball tournament being played on an ACC campus or sixth-seeded Georgia (15-16) headed for an 8:30 p.m. matchup against Mississippi State in tonight's second semifinal.

Georgia and Kentucky were scheduled to play at 9:45 p.m. Friday night, but a severe thunderstorm damaged the Georgia Dome, forcing the postponement of the game. It also forced the remainder of the tournament to be played in Georgia Tech's home gym, where Kentucky fans outnumbered Georgia supporters 5-to-1 despite an edict from the conference that each team would have only 400 tickets.

Those in blue left unhappy, thanks to Swansey.

"I've always believed in Zac for being very, very competitive," head coach Dennis Felton said. "I can't say I'm really surprised that he would make that play just because I believe in his ability to step up and make a play like that."

Despite the win, Felton left the building fuming because of the decision made by conference officials in the middle of the night that scheduled three tournament games for Saturday. That means Georgia will have to play two games today and must beat a Mississippi State team that last played at 7:30 p.m. Friday in order to advance to the conference final.

"I very, very respectfully take great exception to the decision to make a team play two games in a row in games that are so important," Felton said. "I can't help but feel that when that decision was made, they made it knowing well that they were basically eliminating our chances of winning the tournament."

Felton had hoped the conference would schedule just one game Saturday and then play both semifinals and the championship game on Sunday so both semifinal winners would be playing two games in one day, Playing three games Sunday was not an option because, in order to have the tournament final finished by the NCAA mandated 6 p.m., the winner of the second semifinal would have had just 20 minutes of rest between games, according to SEC associate commissioner Mark Womack.

Mississippi State's players literally passed Georgia's players in the halls of Alexander Memorial Coliseum as Mississippi State arrived to begin warming up and Georgia's players left to head to go back to their team hotel and try to rest. Georgia's players boarded their team bus five hours before they were to be back on the floor playing.

The Bulldogs were hoping to get their players sleep and lots of fluids before returning to the gym.

"It's going to be tough, but, of course, we have to do it if we're going to get to the (NCAA) Tournament," said guard Corey Butler, who played 30 minutes, his second-most of the season. "We have to do it, and I think the guys are really going to buckle down and make it happen."

Georgia earned the right to play the second game thanks to 17 points from Terrance Woodbury and 16 from Gaines. The Bulldogs allowed Kentucky senior guards Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley to combine for 36 points, but only three other Wildcats scored. The Wildcats shot 35.3 percent for the game.

Kentucky had three chances to win the game on its final possession, but Bradley missed three shots on his team's final possession, including a fading 10-foot jumper with two seconds left.

Georgia center Dave Bliss made a three-quarter heave, but it didn't hit the rim.

It was Georgia's second straight overtime win in this tournament and second straight game won with a basket in the final two seconds.

"I think it's about grit and toughness and sweat than anything about magic," Felton said.

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