The Georgia Bulldogs hung on to earn their first SEC victory of the 2014-15 season, outlasting Vanderbilt 70-67 in Nashville, Tenn. on Wednesday night. It was Georgia’s first win in Nashville since the 2005-06 season.
Kenny Gaines led the Bulldogs in scoring with 17 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Gaines connected on 6-of-8 field goals, including 5-of-7 3-pointers. Marcus Thornton finished with 16 points and J.J. Frazier added 11, including five clutch free throws in the final 20 seconds that proved to be vital in preserving the victory.
“I’m really proud of our young players,” Georgia head coach Mark Fox said after the game. “This was an adverse situation and we had to leave some guys at home, but as I told them after the game, ‘after we lost to LSU some people probably ran for the hills. Some people run for the hills and other people climb it.’ When we were faced with a situation like our kids were tonight, they decided to climb it and I’m very proud of them because we had to play our tails off to win and we did. We beat a good basketball team.”
Georgia (10-5, 1-2) started the game on a 7-0 run through the first four minutes of play, and rode that momentum through the duration of the first half as the Bulldogs took a 31-22 lead into the locker room at halftime. Georgia led wire-to-wire in the first half and was up by as much as 13 at one point.
Vanderbilt (11-5,1-2) shot just 36% from the field in the opening period and was just 1-for-11 from beyond the arc while Damian Jones, the SEC’s fifth leading scorer, was held to just one point on 0-for-5 shooting. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, shot 50% from the field and connected on 5-of-9 3-point attempts. Thornton led the Bulldogs with nine points on 4-of-7 from the field in the opening period.
Georgia started where they left off early in the second half, extending their lead to 51-37 at the 13:46 mark on a Charles Mann layup, however, Vanderbilt kept hanging close and was able to go on a 16-5 run over a6:30 minute stretch that was sparked by a Wade Baldwin 3-pointer at the 6:59 mark.
Georgia was held without a field goal for the final six minutes of the second half, allowing Vanderbilt to come back from an 11-point deficit, however, the Bulldogs hit 11 consecutive free throws down the stretch, including nine in the final five minutes, to preserve the win.
The Commodores roared back down the stretch, pulling to within two points with under 30 seconds remaining on a Riley LaChance 3-pointer. Charles Mann and J.J. Frazier hit two free throws each to push the Bulldogs back up by six.
LaChance hit two more 3-pointers in the final eight seconds of the game, but Frazier was able to knock down three of his final four free throw attempts to cement the victory.
LaChance finished the night with a game-high 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Jones was held to 10 points on just 3-of-10 shooting.
Georgia vs. Vanderbilt Notes:
- Georgia’s starting lineup was: Marcus Thornton (75th career start), Nemanja Djurisic (40th), J.J. Frazier (4th), Charles Mann (54th) and Kenny Gaines (45th).
- This was the 138th all-time meeting between the two schools. Vanderbilt now leads the series 19-14, having won each of the last two meetings.
- This was Georgia’s first win at Vanderbilt since 2006, when the Bulldogs beat Vanderbilt 74-73.
- It was also just the 14th victory by the Bulldogs in the history of the series in Nashville
- Georgia was without three significant contributors Wednesday night, as starter Juwan Parker, Yante Maten and Kenny Paul Geno all missed the game due to injury.
- The Bulldogs made a season-high 10 3-pointers, shooting 10-of-17 from beyond the arc.
- Georgia had a season-low 27 rebounds on the night.
- Kenny Gaines scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, hitting 4-of-5 3-pointers in the half and 5-of-7 throughout the game.
- Osahen Iduwe played a career-high four minutes, recording his first-career block.
- Houston Kessler played a career-high 11 minutes.
- Charles Mann tied his season high with six assists.
Georgia returns to Athens for a two-game home stand, starting with Florida on Saturday, January 17 at Stegeman Coliseum. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. and the game will be televised on CBS.