Two of the most exciting games of 2001-02 season pitted the LSU men against the Georgia Bulldogs. A Ronald Dupree turnover in the regular season matchup a year ago allowed the Bulldogs to escape Baton Rouge with a narrow 55-54 victory. The Tigers exacted a bit of revenge in post-season play upsetting top-seeded Georgia 78-76 in the quarterfinals of the 2002 SEC Tournament.
The win Sunday was the eighth straight by the Bulldogs, the longest winning streak of the Jim Harrick era. The win also extended Georgia's winning streak over LSU in Athens to six games. The Tigers have failed to beat the Bulldogs on their home floor since the 1991 season.
LSU lost their third consecutive conference opener and have failed to win an SEC opener since the 1999-00 season, the same year in which the Tigers won the SEC championship.
The 26-point defeat was the largest SEC loss since the Tigers fell to Mississippi State 84-61 last season in Starkville.
"If we'd played our best game, we still couldn't have beaten this team," LSU coach John Brady said. "Georgia was better than us."
LSU opened with a Collis Temple III 3-pointer to give LSU an early 3-0 lead. Georgia responded by scoring fourteen of the next seventeen points and a 14-6 lead.
LSU was able to cut into the Georgia lead and with a Jaime Lloreda bucket held a 23-21 lead with 7:01 left in the first half.
In the next 10 seconds of the first half, LSU committed three fouls, including a technical on LSU Head Coach John Brady.
The technical on Brady was the second of the season on the LSU Head Coach.
"I couldn't get a handle on calling a game," Brady said when asked about the officiating. "I don't even want to know who calls the next game anymore. It doesn't do any good. You just go with what you've got."
The officiating crew of Karl Hess, Ray Natili, and Bernard Clinton tightly called the first half. Seventeen team fouls were committed in the first half including twelve on the Bulldogs and three on leading scorer, junior forward Jarvis Hayes.
Following the Brady technical, Georgia went on a 9-1 run as junior center Steve Thomas scored eight of the nine points. Thomas led the Bulldogs with eight points at the half.
Despite being in foul trouble, Jarvis Hayes was able to score seven points on three of five shooting.
Collis Temple III and Ronald Dupree paced the Tigers at the half with nine points each.
The Tigers struggled from the field in the first half, shooting just 10-of-25 (40-percent) from the floor. Torris Bright was only 1-of-3 from the field in the first half and Ronald Dupree connected on just 2-of-6 shots.
However, the Tigers were able to take advantage of twelve Georgia team fouls converting 10-of-14 shots from the free throw line.
The Bulldogs, who shot 50-percent from the field in the first half, started the second half with the same hot shooting as senior guard Ezra Williams scored 11 points, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc as the Bulldogs pushed their lead to 13 with 13:28 left in the game.
"A team shoots like that, they can beat any team in the country," Dupree said. "But we'll be back, and we'll probably meet them again. It'll definitely be a different story next time."
With 11:23 left in the game, the Tigers went to the full-court press defense for the first time and were able to force a turnover. A Torris Bright to Ronald Dupree alley-oop slam dunk cut the lead to 11, 60-49. However, on the next Georgia possession, another three-pointer by Williams pushed the Bulldog lead to a 14-point advantage, 63-49.
Two free throws by Rashad Wright with 9:34 left to go in the game all but put the contest out of reach as Georgia held a commanding 68-53 lead.
"On tape, we felt we could zone them a little bit," Harrick said. "We wanted to try it and see how they reacted to it."
Williams finished the game with a game-high 25 points including seven of seven from the three-point arc. Hayes also added 20 points.
"I came out in the first half and I was kind of anxious," Williams said. "The second half, Coach just stressed to just be patient and get lost in the game. That's what I did in the second half."
Jaime Lloreda finished the game as the leading scorer for the Tigers with 17 points and five rebounds.