BATON ROUGE – The Georgia Bulldogs posted two 20-point scorers and was able to keep LSU from sustaining a serious run in the second half to win the regular season finale, 69-61, at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
LSU dropped one spot in the final seedings for next week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament in Atlanta, finishing in a three-way tie with Ole Miss and Missouri at 9-9 for sixth place. Ole Miss beat both teams and takes the sixth spot with LSU beating Missouri during the season. The Tigers will play the 10th seed, Alabama, in the third game of the second round on Thursday against Alabama at 6 p.m. CDT. The game will be televised by SEC TV.
LSU finishes the regular season at 18-12 and 9-9 in the league, while Georgia ties for second at 18-12 and 12-6 in the league with Kentucky. Kentucky gets the second seed and UGA will be the third seed in the tournament and have a double bye to the quarterfinals on Friday.
After shooting 60 percent in the Bulldogs win in Athens in February, UGA shot over 50 percent until very late in the game finished at 23-of-48 with 47.9 percent. After hitting all five three-point attempts in the first half, Georgia finished 9-of-15 for the game and 14-of-20 at the line.
LSU shot just 36.4 percent for the game (20-of-55) and 5-of-23 from the arc. LSU made 16-of-23 free throws.
Charles Mann led Georgia with 22 points and 10 rebounds, making 12-of-14 free throws. Kenny Gaines had 20 points, making 7-of-10 field goals, including 6-of-7 three-pointers.
Stringer made his final home game memorable as the Jackson, Miss., senior had 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting including three treys. Jarell Martin added 13 points. Johnny O'Bryant III physically double teamed by the UGA defense and forced into foul trouble had just five points and Coleman scored seven in his final regular season appearance in the Maravich Center.
After the senior presentations to Coleman and Stringer, it was Stringer that came out on fire scoring 13 early points with three treys and a wild underhanded shot off a rebound.
But Georgia and LSU went toe-to-toe in the first half with seeding potential and the chance for Georgia to tie Kentucky for second place in the SEC after the Wildcats lost earlier in the day to Florida.
The half featured five ties and 10 lead changes, and all that was despite Georgia being unable to keep the basketball at times with 13 turnovers. But the Bulldogs countered that by going 5-of-5 from the free point arc in the opening 20 minutes, four of those coming from Kenny Gaines.
After shooting 60 percent in the first meeting in Athens, Georgia was 11-of-21 from the field in the opening 20 minutes, while LSU was 10-of-28 and just 3-of-14 from the arc.
Georgia’s biggest lead in the opening 20 minutes was four points in the first minute of the game, while LSU led by four with 2:39 to go in the half but was unable to hold the advantage and was down, 30-28, at intermission.
LSU twice got the lead to one point in the first 1:04 of the second half before Georgia made its run that the Tigers could never overcome. Up three, 38-35, Nemanja Djurisic hit a jumper followed by a Gaines three-pointer to make it 43-35, forcing a time out by Coach Johnny Jones. LSU missed a jumper and Georgia on the other end got a layup from Djurisic.
The Tigers missed another jumper and Djurisic got another layup to make it 47-35 in favor of Georgia with 14:04 to play.
LSU would run off seven points of its own on two free throws by Martin, a Coleman trey and an Anthony Hickey jumper to make it 47-42 with 11:22 to go but Georgia would eventually press the lead out to as much as 13 points in the final 3:28 to seal the deal.
LSU would finish the season 7-2 at home in the conference, losing the first and last conference games to go with two league wins on the road. It was the second straight year that LSU finished 9-9 in the Southeastern Conference.
SEC Men's Basketball Tournament Schedule
All times Central
Wednesday, March 12
Game 1: 13 South Carolina vs. 12 Auburn, 6 p.m. SEC-TV
Game 2: 14 Mississippi St. vs. 11 Vanderbilt, 8:30 p.m. SEC-TV
Thursday, March 13
Game 3: 9 Texas A&M vs. 8 Missouri, noon SEC-TV
Game 4: Game 1 Winner vs 5 Arkansas, 2:30 p.m. SEC-TV
Game 5: 10 Alabama vs. 7 LSU, 6 p.m. SEC-TV
Game 6: Game 2 Winner vs. 6 Ole Miss, 8:30 p.m. SEC-TV
Friday, March 14
Game 7: Game 3 Winner vs. 1 Florida, noon ESPNU
Game 8: Game 4 Winner vs. 4 Tennessee, 2:30 p.m. ESPNU
Game 9: Game 5 Winner vs. 2 Kentucky, 6 p.m. SEC-TV
Game 10: Game 6 Winner vs. 3 Georgia, 8:30 p.m. SEC-TV
Saturday, March 15
Game 11: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner, noon ABC
Game 12: Game 9 Winner vs. Game 10 Winner, 2:30 p.m. ABC
Sunday, March 16
Game 13: Game 11 Winner vs. Game 12 Winner, 2:15 p.m. ESPN
Final SEC Men's Basketball Standings
1 Florida 18-0
2 Kentucky 12-6
3 Georgia 12-6
4 Tennessee 11-7
5 Arkansas 10-8
6 Ole Miss 9-9
7 LSU 9-9
8 Missouri 9-9
9 Texas A&M 8-10
10 Alabama 7-11
11 Vanderbilt 7-11
12 Auburn 6-12
13 South Carolina 5-13
14 Mississippi St. 3-15
HEAD COACH JOHNNY JONES
“You know these days are obviously coming, and it’s always tough. You don’t look forward to them. Especially Senior Day because it means those guys possibly last time putting a uniform on in front of our home crowd. But when it happens, you want to make sure that it’s a great experience for them. Unfortunately, today for us – a setback – didn’t have an opportunity to get a victory.
"Needless to say, I think those guys have represented and done a tremendous job putting that jersey on, playing with a great deal of pride in it and making sure that they have that certain passion that you need really to put it on. I’m proud of those guys. I thought Georgia – a credit to them – I thought they did a great job today on both ends of the floor. Defensively, I thought they did a great job of making us play over the top. They rebounded the basketball. At the same time, on the offensive end, they hit some timely shots against us in the second half. Each time we made a run, I thought they did a great job in terms of responding to our runs. It was a hard-fought basketball game. Unfortunately, we came out on the short end of it.”
On Georgia’s ability to execute against his team…
“They executed from way out above the line tonight, hitting some big three’s. I thought we did a much better job of defending the post area. Instead of 46 free throws, they only got to the line 20 times tonight and executed that. But I thought they hit some big three’s. Their guards played well and beyond the arc. That’s tough. Although I thought we defended and put ourselves in good positioning on switches, they still shot it over the top of us and deep. A big thing – they did a great job of rebounding the basketball, getting offensive rebounds early in the game and second-chance opportunities. That’s toughness plays. Those are some things that we can control and make sure that we’ve got to get better at because you can’t give a good team like this that scores - is very patient offensively and executing at a high level - second-chance opportunities that close to the basket.”
On measuring the progress of the season …
“As a whole, I thought our guys did a tremendous job. I think we’re in a very good basketball league that is very talented. I think it’s noted that we did not win as much as we would have liked to on the road, but we were very competitive in those road games. I thought we did a great job of holding serve here at home and playing well in front of our crowd. I think we wound up going 7-2 in terms of conference play. Through it all, I thought our guys did a good job throughout the year in competing and playing. Once you get on the home-and-away, home-and-away, it makes it a little bit difficult for us, and we came up a little bit short. We were fortunate enough to get a win the other night at Vanderbilt.”
On focusing in on what’s ahead for the team …
“Well, it’s the third season for us. We’ve gone through our preseason, in terms of prior to conference play. That was our first season, then conference play being our second season. We’re about to start our third season, and we can push aside what has transpired now. We’ve got to make sure that we’re prepared for a real tough conference tournament, but it’s one of the most exciting times of college basketball. I think everybody goes in there with an opportunity to either win three, four or five games. You put yourself in a position for something special there waiting for you. That’s what you play for. We’re fortunate that we get an opportunity to do that against a team that we had a setback against earlier this year. I thought it was a hard-fought battle at their place where we came up a little bit short. We look forward to another great opportunity and great challenge with the Alabama basketball team.”
On Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann making big shots …
“They made deep shots. I mean they made some NBA-type threes. I thought we did a great job of switching and trying to get a hand up. You have to give them credit for the percentage they shot from back there. One guy goes 6-of-7, and the other one goes 2-of-3 from back there behind the line. That’s a really good night from behind the line. I don’t care how you cut it for their team. They shot a high percentage, and that’s hard to overcome.”
LSU Player Quotes
On losing on Senior Day …
“It hurts even more because we wanted to finish the season out 10-8. That was our goal with this last day. So senior day was an important day, but I was more concerned with my team and moving forward and getting a win before the SEC tournament. But we can’t do anything about it now. We have to put it behind us and move on.”
On LSU’s defense…
“I can’t really put my hand on it, but I wouldn’t put it up as luck. We play good players each and every night. It’s our job to adjust, meaning getting closer to the offensive guys, getting our hands up and not letting them get shots off.”
On his start…
“I was able to hit a couple of shots. My teammates found me. It felt really good to see a couple go down. I haven’t been shooting the ball very well the past couple of games. I was just trying to be aggressive early.”
On Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines’ play …
“There was just a lack of communication out there tonight. We’re not playing team defense. When we did, they found guys that would get open. Gaines was able to knock down shots coming off screens. Mann was able to get to the free-throw line. We just have to go out there and play together.”
On the offensive struggles when Johnny O’Bryant struggles…
“Johnny is the type of guy who gets us going on offense. We like to go inside and out. When they take that away from us, it hurts us on offense.”
On LSU’s shots not falling today…
“We had some open looks. A lot of guys were missing shots. We had a bad-shooting night tonight. Our shots have to fall. When teams double team Johnny or double team our post, we have to look for our wings and let them knock down shots. If that isn’t open, we have to take it to the basket and try to get to the free-throw line.”
On his thoughts going into the SEC tournament…
“I believe in my teammates. I believe in everybody. We are just going to go out there and fight and play hard to the end.”
GEORGIA HEAD COACH MARK FOX
On Georgia’s overall performance today against LSU…
“I thought our kids came with a determined look on this trip. We talked about that before we left Athens. We needed to go and not rely on someone else’s help. We needed to play well and win a ball game. I was really proud.”
On making adjustments during half time…
“We made one adjustment at the half that we probably should have made in the first half. I guess I didn’t do a very good job of explaining it to our team. I will take the credit for not coaching very well in the first half and having 13 turnovers. We made an adjustment at half, so we were much more organized in half number two against the press. We were more poised and composed.”
On putting LSU in foul trouble…
“It took us a while. It was six-to-one on the fouls for a long time. We thought we had a fourth foul on (Johnny) O’Bryant, but we didn’t get it. It took us a while to get in the bonus. Once we got there, we were able to melt the clock, get to the line and finish it out.”
On playing three guards tonight against LSU…
“Brandon (Morris) was in the back getting stiches. He was ruled out for the game. First half, we tried it with Charles (Mann) and J.J. (Frasier) together. Kenny Gaines came in some when Juwan (Parker) needed a breather. It gave us good ball handling. It wasn’t really by design. It was something we have done a little bit, and it worked well. Give Charles credit. He can bounce in any position and just play. I think he played three positions today and he didn’t make many errors in execution.”
On finishing regular season and preparing for the SEC Tournament…
“I think what is important for us is that we play Friday. We need to be ready to play that game no matter who it will be or when it will be. We need to stay focused on that one particular game.”
GEORGIA PLAYER QUOTES
G Kenny Gaines
On today’s win …
“It was a great win. It was a good thing that we got a win on the road. We haven’t had a good win on the road since Missouri. We just have to build upon today. We had some leaks today that we need to fix before the SEC Tournament. We have to go back, look at some film and improve.”
On the upcoming SEC Tournament …
“I feel like we’re in a good position. We just have to capitalize on the seed that we’re in, and we’re excited to be there.”
G Charles Mann
On limiting Johnny O’Bryant III to 5 points …
“He’s a great player. We just kept on getting aggressive, and we were double teaming him. We kept him guessing. On the offensive end, we just wanted to be aggressive and get him in foul trouble. We did a pretty good job of that.”
On the upcoming SEC Tournament …
“We are a really confident team. We want to take it one game at a time, so we’re just going to focus on Friday. We don’t know who we’re going to play, but we’re really confident. We believe in each other and the system, so we’re just going to take it one game at a time.”
On the significance of today’s win …
“We started off the season tough, but we bounced back. We’re tied in the SEC for second place, and I don’t remember the last time our school was that high. It was a great win. We had a great regular season. We went through a lot of adversity and we continued to fight. I’m proud of my team.”