Guards Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines both scored at least 20 points to lead Georgia to a 69-61 victory against LSU in the regular-season finale Saturday afternoon at the PMAC.
Georgia had a one-point lead at 32-31 after Andre Stringer made a basket a little more than one minute into the second half. Over the next five minutes, the Bulldogs took control of the game. Nemanja Djurisic scored his only three baskets of the day during that time as Georgia outscored the Tigers 15-4. Gaines made two of his six 3-pointers in this span. The other Bulldogs points came on a 3-pointer by Mann. LSU's only points were the result of two baskets by Jarell Martin. The Tigers missed their other four field goal attempts during that time.
KEY PERIOD IN FIRST HALF
LSU put together a six-point run to take a 28-24 lead with 2:37 left before halftime. Stringer and Johnny O'Bryant made field goals, while Shavon Coleman sank two foul shots. But, the Tigers didn't score another point before intermission. LSU missed two shots and committed two turnovers on its final four first-half possessions. Meanwhile, Georgia scored the last six points to go on top 30-28. Marcus Thornton made one free throw, while Mann sank two foul shots and Gaines made a 3-pointer.
KEY PERIOD IN SECOND HALF
LSU made one serious run midway through the second half. The Tigers held the Bulldogs to two points over a 4½-minute stretch to pull within five points at 49-44. The deficit could have been smaller, but both O'Bryant and Jordan Mickey made just one of two foul shots. However, Georgia answered with an 8-2 run to build an 11-point lead at 57-46. Mann sank two foul shots, while Juwan Parker, J.J. Frazier and Gaines all made field goals. LSU's lone points came on Stringer foul shots. The Bulldogs' lead was never fewer than six points the rest of the game.
LSU'S TOP STARTER
In his final home game, Stringer almost single-handedly carried the Tigers. He finished with 22 points - one fewer than his career-high earlier this season at Ole Miss. Stringer was 7-of-15 from the field, including 3-of-8 on 3-pointers. The seven made field goals matched his career-best. Stringer has 1,321 points in his career. He is No. 24 on LSU's all-time list. He passed Maurice Carter and Roger Sigler on Saturday.
LSU'S TOP RESERVE
With Stringer in the starting lineup, Martin came off the bench. Martin was the only player other than Stringer to score in double figures. Martin ended with 13 points on four field goals and five free throws. Martin missed all four of his 3-point attempts. Martin had four rebounds and two assists before fouling out.
LSU'S UNSUNG HERO
The only other player who contributed in some manner was Mickey, who had nine points and a team-high eight rebounds. But, Mickey was 3-of-9 from the field and 3-of-7 at the foul line. Mickey didn't block a shot for the second time this season. The other game in which he had no blocks was St. Joseph's.
The shooting numbers told the story of the LSU defeat. Georgia shot 48 percent from the field (23-of-48), including 60 percent (9-of-15) on 3-pointers. The Tigers made 36 percent of their field goal attempts (20-of-55), including 22 percent (5-of-23) on 3-pointers. In only the Memphis and South Carolina games this season has the team with the higher field goal percentage not won. Georgia also had a comfortable rebounding advantage at 37-29. The Bulldogs nearly had as many offensive rebounds (12) as LSU had defensive rebounds (16). The Tigers did score 14 points off Georgia's 16 turnovers. The Bulldogs scored six points off LSU's 11 turnovers.
On Senior Day, Stringer was in the starting lineup instead of Martin. The other starters were Coleman, O'Bryant and Anthony Hickey. . .For the second straight game, only two reserves got in the game - Martin and Tim Quarterman. . .It was a rough game for O'Bryant, who may have been playing for the last time in the PMAC. He missed six of his eight field goal attempts, while scoring just five points. O'Bryant was 4-of-11 from the field and scored nine points in the loss earlier this season at Georgia. O'Bryant had a career-high four blocked shots and grabbed eight rebounds. However, he committed five turnovers. O'Bryant now has 1,099 points. He is tied with Bob Meador for No. 33 on the school's all-time list. O'Bryant now has 676 rebounds. He passed Clarence Ceasar for 21st on LSU's all-time rankings. . .In his final home game, Coleman had seven points and four rebounds. Coleman was just 1-of-4 on 3-point shots. . .Hickey had another low-scoring game with five points on 2-of-7 shooting. He missed five of six 3-point shots. Hickey had four steals, but just one assist. . .Mann had 22 points and ten rebounds, while Gaines had 20 points. Mann was 12-of-14 at the foul line. He was 9-of-13 at the free throw line in the first game against LSU. Gaines was 6-of-7 on 3-pointers. . .The Tigers lost back-to-back games to Georgia for the first time since the 1990s. The Bulldogs won ten straight games against LSU from 1992-1999. . .The defeat snapped a seven-game home SEC winning streak for the Tigers. . .LSU finished 18-12 overall, 9-9 in the SEC. The Tigers finished tied with Ole Miss and Missouri for sixth place. LSU will be seeded seventh in the SEC tournament. Georgia is 18-12 overall, 12-6 in the SEC. The Bulldogs finished tied with Kentucky for second place. Georgia will be seeded third in the SEC tournament. . .The paid attendance was 9,208. The actual crowd was slightly more than 5,000.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
Coach Johnny Jones
"Georgia did a great job on both ends of the floor. Defensively, they did a great job of making us play over the top. They rebounded the basketball. On the offensive end, they hit some timely shots in the second half. Each time we made a run, they did a great job of responding. It was a hard-fought basketball game."
"Georgia executed from way out above the line, hitting some big 3s. We did a much better job of defending the post area this time. Their guards played well behind the arc. They did a great job of getting offensive rebounds early in the game and getting second-chance opportunities. Those are toughness plays. Those are some things we can control."
"This loss hurts more because we wanted to finish the SEC out 10-8. That was our goal on the last day. I can't put my hand on our defense. We play good players each and every night. It's our job to adjust, meaning getting closer to the offensive guys. We have to get our hands up and not let them get shots off. It felt really good to see a couple of my shots go down. I haven't been shooting the ball very well the last couple of games."
"Johnny (O'Bryant) is the type of guy who gets us going on offense. We like to go inside-out. When they take that away, it hurts us on offense. We had some open looks. A lot of guys were missing shots. When teams double-team Johnny, we have to look for our wings and let them knock down shots."
LSU will play Alabama in a second-round game of the Southeastern Conference tournament at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Crimson Tide (12-18, 7-11) defeated Arkansas 83-58 on Saturday afternoon. Alabama finished tied with Vanderbilt for tenth place. The Tide has the tiebreaker due to its victory against the Commodores. The LSU-Alabama game will be broadcast on SECTV.