The Bulldogs had a chance to tie the game with 6.8 seconds to go but their leading scorer, Ezra Williams, was off the mark on two crucial free throws. Ronald Dupree rebounded the second miss, was fouled and sent to the LSU free throw line.
Despite Dupree missing the front end of a 1-and-1, the ball remained up for grabs long enough for time to elapse.
LSU (18-13) advances to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the second time under head coach John Brady, whose 2000 team earned that right with an opening quarterfinal win over Vanderbilt.
LSU guard Torris Bright shoots over Georgia's Rashad Wright and Jarvis Hayes in the first half of their SEC Tournament quarterfinal game. Bright mad 17 points in the Tigers' 78-76 win. (John Bazemore/AP Photo)
"I am extremely proud of our team," said Brady. "They went through a lot of adversity at the midpoint of the season, stayed with the belief system and believed in each other."
Scoring well above its 68.9-point average, LSU ran a deliberate offense designed to keep Georgia from turning the game into a track meet. The Tigers helped themselves immensely with 54 percent shooting in the game, including 13-of-20 shooting (65 percent) in the second half.
I never thought we'd give up 76…against Georgia and win the game," said Brady. "I didn't know if we could generate enough points, but we played really nice offense today."
For the second game in a row, Antonio Hudson led the Tigers in scoring. The last two of his 23 points came at the free throw line with 4:02 to play and tied the score, 74-74. Hudson made 11-of-12 shots from the line and hit a pair of three-pointers.
Georgia (21-9) could not retake the lead in the closing moments despite getting five offensive rebounds on one of its trips down the court. Torris Bright put LSU up for good, 76-74, with a shot under the basket off an in-bounds play with 1:34 remaining.
Looking to tie or retake the lead, Georgia found Rashad Wright in the corner for a three-pointer but his attempt went over the rim. Chris Daniels rebounded for the Bulldogs loss the ball when he rolled over LSU's Ronald Dupree. Bright recovered the loose ball while on his backside and fed to Jermaine Williams who found Bridgewater streaking down court for the easy basket.
LSU forward Brad Bridgewater slams home the winning basket in the Tigers' 78-76 win over 16th-ranked Georgia at the SEC Tournament. (AP Photo/John Bazemore).
Wright got Georgia back to within two points, 78-76, when drove the ball the length of the court for an uncontested layup with 6.8 seconds to go. After a Georgia timeout, LSU's Charlie Thompson's in-bounds pass was stolen by Ezra Williams, who was fouled but could not sink the clutch free throws.
"He's our best free throw shooter," Georgia coach Jim Harrick said of Williams. "He shot 80-something percent in league play, had a great game for us and had a chance to tie the game. It's tough… (but) he's still my guy and I'd like him on the line again.
After being held to seven points in each of his last two games, Dupree broke out of his slump with 18 points against Georgia. He made 7-of-14 shots from the fielding, including all three of his three-pointers, and led LSU with nine rebounds.
Bright was next with 17 points and eight rebounds, and Bridgewater had 14 points and seven rebounds in perhaps his best game ever at LSU.
"I have to compliment (LSU) on playing a great game," said Harrick. "I thought they were just absolutely magnificent. They hit every shot they wanted to."
The Bulldogs engaged LSU in a fast-pace game in the first half, but the Tigers were able to keep up and eventually got the tempo more to their liking using their "fist" zone defense. In the scheme, the Tigers were able to step into Georgia's passing lanes a force a number of turnovers.
Fred Gibson's three-point play at the 12:39 mark put Georgia ahead 20-9, but LSU rallied to outscore the Bulldogs 15-2 over the next four minutes to grab its first lead. Bridgewater, who accounted for ten points in the first half, started the run with a move to the hoop on which he was fouled while making the basket. His b