February 23, 2013

Dawgs pull one out

KCP (2) from Anthony Dasher on Vimeo.

Georgia hasn't won many games this season that could ultimately be described as "pretty" or a perfect display of execution on the court.

Games have been tough, physical, and not always a banquet for the eyes. That's just the way it's been.

But as long as the results are positive, head coach Mark Fox won't complain too much.

Such was the case Saturday against South Carolina after the Bulldogs used a last-ditch 3-pointer by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to send the game into overtime before beating the visiting Gamecocks 62-54 in front of a Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 6,590.

"This team has had a tough last 10 days; it feels good to get a victory," said Fox, whose Bulldogs snapped a three-game losing streak. "We'll take them anyway we can get them."

Georgia (13-14, 7-7) outscored South Carolina (13-14, 3-11) in the five-minute overtime, thanks to Caldwell-Pope who came off a perfectly set screen to drill a three-pointer to tie the game at 53 with 10 seconds left. "That was a shot I just had to knock down," Caldwell-Pope said. "As soon as it left my hands, I felt something good was going to happen."

But things were about to get a little squirrely.

The game appeared headed to overtime when Bruce Ellington missed a running 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded. But after huddling, the three officials put 4.5 seconds on the clock giving the Gamecocks one more chance.

South Carolina was subsequently allowed to inbound behind its own baseline, but the Gamecocks were unable to get off a shot.

"I don't know (what happened). I thought it was the 1972 Olympics all over again," Fox said. "I don't know, I really don't know. It made sense to me at the time, but now, hell, I don't know."

After the game, UGA sports information released a statement from head official Anthony Jordan.

"With 8.9 seconds left, the clock was erroneously started during a deadball situation. The difference from 8.9 seconds, when the basket was scored (by KCP) and the time South Carolina player received the ball was 4.5 seconds," Jordan said. "By rule, it was clearly a correctable-error situation. We put the ball back in play, giving South Carolina the 4.5 seconds it had lost when the clock erroneously ran. The ball was placed on the baseline at the point closest to where he initially received the ball."

Caldwell-Pope's 3 capped a 6-1 run at the end of regulation by the Bulldogs, who trailed 51-47 with 1:43 to play.

"We were up (four) with one minute to go. You have to win the game. We didn't do that," South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. "What's disappointing is the lack of belief that we're supposed to win. That's what is disappointing. We were scrambling from the word 'go' and I have no idea why. We knew the play they were running and we fell asleep. It's not like he made a 10-foot shot. He made a long shot."

As it turned out, it was an opportunity the Gamecocks should have taken advantage of as Georgia dominated the overtime, outscoring South Carolina 9-1 to win going away.

The Gamecocks finished the game a mere 30 percent from the field (18-for-60).

What made matters even more frustrating for Martin was the fact that Caldwell-Pope - for the second straight game - failed to score a single point in the first half before finishing with a game-high 18, one of three Bulldogs on the day in double-figures. Charles Mann and Nemanja Djurisic added 14 and 11 points, respectively.

Fox chalked Caldwell-Pope's early issues up to fatigue.

"Thursday, Saturday afternoons are hard and I thought Kentavious looked smoked. I thought he was tired. I thought he was flat worn out," Fox said." I don't know if it was mental fatigue or physical fatigue, I just don't think he was right. Now you've got to give South Carolina credit, they were guarding our tails off, but the deeper we got into the game he found that reserve of injury and came through for us there."

Neither team was exactly hot to start the game.

Points were hard to come by early on, as Georgia held a mere 7-4 lead with 10:08 left in the first half before going into the locker room up 23-16.

"We felt coming into this game that it was going to be a battle," Fox said. "We were fortunate to get the game into overtime and they we played pretty solid in the OT."

Georgia returns to action on Wednesday when the Bulldogs travel to Nashville to play Vanderbilt. The next home game is Saturday against Tennessee.