Cats come up short in OT vs. Dawgs; now nervously await NCAA bid


ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia coach Dennis Felton said his team's weather-delayed SEC tournament quarterfinal game was no time to worry about having enough energy for a semifinal game about six hours later.

Zac Swansey scored five points in overtime, including an unlikely turnaround 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left, and Georgia upset Kentucky to 60-56 on Saturday to continue its surprising Southeastern Conference tournament run.

The game was originally scheduled for late Friday night at the Georgia Dome. It was postponed after a tornado damaged the facility during Mississippi State's overtime win over Alabama Friday night. More

The tournament shifted to Alexander Memorial Coliseum on the campus of Georgia Tech " Georgia's in-state rival. The game was played before an estimated crowd of 1,500, as only a limited number of friends, family and school officials will be allowed to attend the rest of the tournament schedule in the smaller facility.

SEC officials were forced to devise a new schedule that called for the Georgia-Kentucky winner to play two games on Saturday.

Georgia (15-16) advanced to Saturday night's semifinal against Mississippi State. Mississippi State beat Alabama in a Friday night quarterfinal.

Felton said he warned his players at halftime that they shouldn't think about saving their energy for a second game in one day.

"I wanted to be certain that we didn't get caught up trying to pace ourselves," Felton said.

"I just reminded all of them that if they wanted to pace themselves, if they wanted to try to be solid, then they were going to have a whole lot of time to rest. And so we have to leave it all out there on the floor."

Kentucky (18-12) is left with a nervous wait for Sunday's NCAA tournament show.

When asked if the loss has implications on his team's NCAA hopes, Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie gave a short answer.

"It doesn't," Gillispie said.

Terrance Woodbury scored 17 points and Sundiata Gaines had 16 as Georgia took its first SEC tournament victory over Kentucky in nine tries.

Swansey, a freshmen who averages 4.2 points per game, was guarded by Ramon Harris as he drove the court before stopping, spinning and launching the 3-pointer in front of the Georgia bench, giving the Bulldogs a 57-56 lead.

Swansey, who did not score in regulation, had his chance after Gaines, a senior, fouled out with 1:33 left in regulation.

"It's something I dream for," Swansey said. "With Sundiata out of the game, it was an opportunity for me to come in the game and show what I could so. I told Sundiata I wasn't going to let his career end like this."

Said Gillispie: "Give Swansey credit. He made a big-time play."

Georgia added to the lead with three free throws. Kentucky's Perry Stevenson was called for a technical foul for blocking Corey Butler's second free throw.

Gillispie said he directed Stevenson to block the free throw.

"I didn't know the rule," Gillispie said. "I didn't know it was an automatic technical. So that's my fault."

Ramel Bradley's jumper with 8.8 seconds left in overtime bounced around the rim before finally falling to give Kentucky a 56-54 lead.

It was the third overtime of the tournament and the second for Georgia, which needed the extra period to beat Mississippi 97-95 on Thursday night.

Joe Crawford led the Wildcats with 24 points. Bradley added 12.

Bliss made two free throws with 59.4 seconds left for a 50-50 tie. Bradley had three misses on Kentucky's final possession in regulation.

The SEC announced early Saturday morning attendance would be limited because Alexander Memorial's capacity is only 9,191 and a crowd of at least 20,000 was expected for the semifinals at the Georgia Dome.

Approximately 1,000 Kentucky fans and about 100 Georgia fans were joined by each team's pep band, cheerleaders and dance teams in the unusually intimate postseason setting.

Friday night's tornado also caused damage to other hotels and buildings in downtown Atlanta. One Kentucky fan held a sign "Send car. Mine is crushed."

Jessica Rogers of New Haven, Ky., said even though some fans found tickets, many others in Atlanta were frustrated by the events.

"You think a tornado is bad," Rogers said. "Wait until you get 15,000 Kentucky fans who came down to Atlanta who are not going to be able to watch the game."

Gillispie said he couldn't blame the loss on the distraction of having the game postponed and moved to another site.

"We're built to handle any situation and they beat us today, bottom line, period," he said.

Kentucky made only one of its first nine shots as Georgia took early leads of 8-0 and 14-3.

Kentucky's man-to-man defense began to wear on the Bulldogs, who committed eight turnovers in the half as the Wildcats rallied.

Kentucky closed the half with a 21-6 run to lead 25-22 at the break.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.