January 5, 2010

Dawgs stay strong, wreck Tech

With time running down in Tuesday night's game against 25th-ranked Georgia Tech, Mark Fox's message to his young Bulldogs was a simple one - act like you've been there before.

Not that Georgia's 73-66 win wasn't reason for the young Bulldogs to be pleased.

"I told our players, I expect you to win. I told them, 'Don't run around like you won the Super Bowl when you win,'" Fox said. "I expect them to win. It certainly beats the alternative."

Senior Albert Jackson could not agree more.

"You always hear about teams taking on the demeanor of the head coach, adopting his demeanor and I think we are doing just that," Jackson said. "He's told us from the beginning to be surprised to win. We should expect to win. Last year, I think we celebrated a little too much after we got a decent win. No doubt this was a big win, but there's a lot more wins in front of us that we want to get, too."

Amazingly, beating Georgia Tech in Athens has actually become old hat for the Bulldogs.

Tuesday's victory over the Yellow Jackets (11-3) was Georgia's 14th straight at Stegeman Coliseum, a streak that dates back to Nov. 26, 1976.

"We talked to the guys this week about all of the records and that we could do something that a Georgia Tech team hasn't done in a really long time," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "But, and it sounds cliché, when two rivals meet, the records and all that stuff get thrown out and you have to play the game."

The Bulldogs certainly came prepared.

Although the lead changed hands nine times, Georgia never trailed by more than three and led by as many as nine when Dustin Ware sank a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left to play.

Such was the story the entire evening.

Every time Georgia Tech seemed to be on the verge of a game-controlling run, the Bulldogs would answer like they did when guard Ricky McPhee to extend the lead to 61-54 with 1:25 left following a pair of free throws by Gani Lawall.

McPhee, who finished with 16 points, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, including two that gave Georgia its first six points of the game.

"I just tried to be aggressive," McPhee said. "If I got some good looks, I was going to try and knock them down."

McPhee wasn't the only Bulldog to enjoy a solid night.

Sophomore Trey Thompkins rebounded from a slow first half to score a team-high 20 points, with Ware and Travis Leslie chipping in with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Turnovers still plagued the Bulldogs.

For the second straight game, Georgia finished with more turnovers than assists (18 to 15), but thanks to some stellar defense, Georgia Tech had problems of its own.

The Yellow Jackets turned the ball over 20 times and shot just 38 percent from the field.

Georgia led 31-26 at the half.

"We started talking about responding to adversity when things happened and we responded to some adversity tonight," Fox said. "We didn't play a perfect game. We made some grave errors, but we did respond to their runs."

Georgia, which took over the SEC lead in free throw shooting, went 24-for-29 from the line against the Yellow Jackets.

Gani led Georgia Tech with 21 points, followed by Zachery Peacock with 16. Heralded freshman Derrick Favors was held to just eight.

After the game, Fox credited the crowd of 6,275 for making a difference down the stretch, but hopes for more when the Bulldogs play their next home game Jan. 13 against Ole Miss.

"The crowd was good but there were not enough of them there," Fox said. "But the ones who were there were good late in the game and we appreciate them. It was similar to Illinois. When we needed the Bulldog nation to come through, they did. This team is going to have to over-achieve the next couple of months and we are going to need better and stronger crowds every time out because they are a big factor. "

Georgia returns to action Saturday when the Bulldogs open SEC play at No. 3 Kentucky.

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