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December 20, 2008

Saved by Swansey

Saturday might have been his birthday but point guard Zac Swansey provided a gift for Georgia against visiting Wofford with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in overtime to give the Bulldogs an unlikely 74-73 win.

Talk about improbable.

After Terrier Tim Johnson missed his second free throw to keep Wofford's advantage at two points with 4.5 seconds left, Swansey grabbed the rebound, drove the right side of the court before pulling up to drain a 21-footer from the right side of the key.

The sparse crowd in Stegeman Coliseum exploded as Swansey was mobbed on the floor by his teammates before running off the court to a standing ovation.

"I was just trying to find a way to get an open shot to myself or to a teammate. I kind of had the ball against the sideline and I had two guys going at me," Swansey said. "I got around the first one and I was going to try and get in the lane but I looked at the clock and saw there was just one second left so that's why I just pulled up and let it go."

Head coach Dennis Felton almost closed his eyes as Swansey was just 3-of-11 from the floor before letting go with his game-winning shot.

"He took it so fast and was pressured where he was kind of twisting into it. When I saw his release I thought oh well, it was good to be hopeful," Felton said. "The moment before, I was predicting it was going in. When he let it go, I didn't think it was."

Swansey laughed when told what Felton said.

"Ah, Coach should have known better than that," Swansey said. "I was standing in front of him when I made that shot in the SEC tournament. He should have known better than that."

Perhaps he should have. It was Swansey's last-second shot that enabled Georgia to beat Kentucky en route to winning the SEC Tournament crown last March in Atlanta.

Swansey finished with 11 points.

"That's Zac Swansey," Corey Butler said. "Maybe that's the way he wanted to shoot it. Maybe Pistol Pete would have had a different way to shoot it, but that's how Zac shoots it. It's effective."

The basket saved the Bulldogs from what would have been a disappointing defeat to the Southern Conference Terriers, who fell to 4-4 with the loss.

Despite the fact that the Bulldogs enjoyed a considerable height advantage, Wofford out-rebounded Georgia 45-35 and forced 19 turnovers while committing just 13.

"We really have to execute better. Not underestimating Wofford but we worked all week at getting better and we REALLY have to get better with our rebounding and things like that," Butler said. "We can't let these teams be doing that to us. We need to be doing that to these teams."

Trey Thompkins led the Bulldogs (7-3) with 15 points, followed by Jeremy Price with 12 and Ricky McPhee and Swansey with 11 each.

Junior Salters led Wofford with 20 points.

"This was a good example no matter how bleak things might look, it's always good to hang in there to just give yourself a chance, even if you win by luck," said Felton, whose team led by as many as 14 points in the first half.

The Bulldogs did play the game without senior captain Terrance Woodbury, who sat out the game with two bad ankles.

"I think that was big. He's our leader, our go-to-guy, he's one of our captains but his ankle problem has been nagging him the last couple of weeks," Swansey said. "We gave him some rest and still found a way to win but it hurt not having one of our big-time scorers and go-to guys."

Georgia returns to action Monday night at 7:30 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

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