Dawgs Get 2nd SEC Win

ATHENS – Three times in the game, Georgia had called a play for Ricky McPhee coming out of a timeout.

Three times, interim coach Pete Herrmann said, McPhee was open for the shot. Three times, he passed it up.

As it turned out, the walk-on junior was just saving his shot for the right moment.

McPhee took a pass from Dustin Ware at the top of the key and hit a 3 with 2:22 left to play to give Georgia a two-point lead the Bulldogs would never relinquish, en route to a 61-57 win over Vanderbilt.

"I just wanted to be conscious of taking good shots," said McPhee, who scored a game-high 14 points. "I wanted to be sure I made it and not risk taking a fading 3 or anything like that. But I got the open 3 at the end, and it was a big shot."

The win was the second of the season in SEC play for the Bulldogs, who have now won two of their past four games after dropping 11 straight.

The key to the win Wednesday, Herrmann said, was an aggressive style that disrupted Vanderbilt's offense early and wore it down in the game's final minutes. Georgia held Vanderbilt to just 31.4 percent shooting in the game – including just 16 field goals – and forced the Commodores to work on both ends of the court.

Vandy went to the line 26 times in the game, and Georgia's Terrance Woodbury fouled out of the game, but the physical paved the way to the win, senior Corey Butler said.

"We kept telling the players, don't let the referees take away your aggressiveness. The big guys getting in foul trouble early on, there's nothing wrong with it. It shows our aggressiveness, and it set the tone early on."

While the Commodores went to the line often, Georgia managed to draw 20 fouls in the game as well – a marked improvement in aggressiveness from the teams' first meeting last month when the Bulldogs went to the line just twice in a 50-40 loss.

While McPhee's late 3 was the highlight, it was the aggressiveness on the play before the big shot that turned the game's momentum.

After Georgia had led by as much as 15 in the second half, but George Drake's jumper with 4:28 to play put Vandy up by 1. The Commodores had a chance to break the game open when Drake tipped the ball away from Ware to key a potential fast break, but McPhee dove in front of him and bounced the ball back into Ware's hands.

"It was a wild play," said Ware, who finished with 10 points and five assists. "I was able to scoop it up, and Rick hustled back down, got his feet set. I looked over and saw him out of the corner of my eye and said, that's a big-time shooter who's got to hit it."

That's exactly what McPhee did, and Vandy wouldn't notch another field goal the rest of the way.

It was a performance that stood in stark contrast to the meltdowns that have plagued Georgia throughout the season. Despite shooting less than 30 percent from the field in the second half, the Bulldogs ramped up their defensive effort to close out the win, and Ware said he hopes his teammates learned from the effort.

"When the offense wasn't quite clicking, we were able to bear down and get some stops, and that's what good teams do," Ware said. "Hopefully we can keep that trend going."

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