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December 16, 2006Levi Stukes scored 25 points and Sundiata Gaines added a season-high 21 to lift Georgia to a 96-83 victory over No. 16 Gonzaga on Saturday.
Georgia, picked by media to finish last in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division, won its sixth straight game.
Georgia (7-1) forced Gonzaga (9-3) into a season-high 21 turnovers, four more than its previous high in a win over North Carolina on Nov. 22. Georgia, which turned the ball over only 11 times, outscored Gonzaga 30-11 in points off turnovers.
Derek Raivio led Gonzaga with 19 points but saw his streak of 20-point games end at eight as he went 3-of-7 from 3-point range. Jeremy Pargo added 17 points, 12 in the first half, and Josh Heytvelt had 15.
Georgia averaged 91 points per game through its first seven games, an opening stretch that did not include a Top 25 opponent. Georgia didn't appear fazed by the step up in competition as it led 50-45 at halftime and then scored the first 11 points of the second half.
Raivio, who had only seven points in the first half, sparked Gonzaga's comeback from the 16-point deficit. He hit two 3-pointers in a 17-6 run that cut Georgia's lead to 67-62.
In a matchup of freshman centers, Georgia's 6-foot-10 Albert Jackson scored consecutive inside baskets over Gonzaga's 7-4 Will Foster, helping Georgia push the lead back to double figures at 80-69.
Each team shot over 60 percent from the field in the first half. Gonzaga was 8-of-12 on 3s in the first half but still trailed 50-45 at halftime, thanks to 19 first-half points by the hot-shooting Stukes.
Georgia scored the first 11 points of the second half, including a basket by Brown, followed by a field goal by Mercer set up by his steal of an inbounds pass. The play gave Georgia a 61-45 lead, forcing Gonzaga coach Mark Few to call a timeout.
Soon after the timeout, Gonzaga's first points of the second half came on an inside basket by Sean Mallon, who had 11 points, at the 16:39 mark.
The game, played at the Gwinnett Center near Atlanta, was sponsored by Chick-fil-A.