Georgia dumps Vanderbilt, 74-73

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings talked about his team's need to make "winning plays," before Saturday afternoon's game with Georgia. He then went out and watched Georgia make the winning play on the Memorial Gym floor.

Sundiata Gaines tipped in his own miss with 18 seconds left, and that proved to be the game-winner as Georgia upset Vanderbilt 74-73, handing the Dores' their fifth defeat in their last six games since beating Kentucky in Lexington.

"We're a pretty disheartened group," Stallings said, an observation that could easily be made as his dejected players filed off the court following their second straight home loss.

The Commodores had their chances down the stretch, but the Memorial magic that lifted the Dores over Oregon earlier this season was nowhere to be found. Trailing 74-73, Shan Foster missed a three-pointer with seven seconds left.

"The spot Shan was in was the open spot," Stallings said. "He got a good look at the basket. If it had gone in, that would have been the game."

Georgia missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Vanderbilt the ball with 3.9 seconds to play and a final chance to win. The calls went out to the ghosts of Barry Goheen and Steve Grant, past Commodore heroes who had burned Georgia at the buzzer at Memorial Gym. But Dan Cage's full-court pass sailed over Julian Terrell's head, and the Dores failed to get a shot off.

Derrick Byars poured in 21 points, including four three-pointers, as he played a stellar second half. Byars rallied the Dores from a 68-60 deficit by scoring nine straight points to give VU a 69-68 lead.

Vanderbilt also led 71-70 after two free throws by Terrell and 73-72 after a spectacular layup by Foster, but Georgia (14-8, 4-5) answered each time and raced out of Memorial with its second straight SEC win.

"This is another one of those games where even if we had lost, I would have still felt good about how we played because I thought we improved over the ‘Bama game and that we were moving in the right direction," said Georgia coach Dennis Felton.

Channing Toney scored 14 points for Georgia, while Gaines finished with 13, nine rebounds and seven assists. Steve Newman and Levi Stukes each scored 12.

Georgia shot 54 percent for the game, including 11-for-21 from three. Vanderbilt was also efficient offensively, shooting 51 percent and 9-for-18 from three. Terrell had 16 points and eight rebounds, and Foster finished with 15. Cage and DeMarre Carroll had six assists each.

"We were searching for stops the whole game," Stallings said. "They shot it great. They made a bunch of shots and that was the difference."

Vanderbilt's NCAA Tournament hopes are on life support at this point. The Commodores stand 12-7 overall and 3-5 in the SEC. The four remaining home games are against Florida, Kentucky, LSU and Tennessee – four teams that will almost certainly make the NCAA Tournament.

"We have to stick together," Byars said. "That's the only thing we can do now. We have to practice hard every day and execute in games."

Bill Trocchi is the Interactive Editor for Athlon Sports. Top Stories