Feb. 21, 2004
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer
ATHENS, Ga. - Rashad Wright scored 22 points and Georgia avenged a 24-point loss last month, winning its third straight with a 71-60 victory over Tennessee on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (14-10, 6-7 Southeastern Conference) kept alive their improbable hopes of making the NCAA tournament with only seven scholarship players in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season under first-year coach Dennis Felton.
Tennessee (13-10, 5-7) saw its postseason hopes suffer a major blow, though this game followed a familiar script. The Volunteers, who beat Georgia 89-65 at home in early January, dropped to 0-6 in SEC games outside of Knoxville.
Wright, the Bulldogs' senior point guard, had another big game after an 18-point performance against Florida on Tuesday night. As usual, he was at his best late in the game, hitting a couple of crucial 3-pointers.
After Tennessee pulled to 51-50 on Scooter McFadgon's three-point play, Wright buried a trey to give the Bulldogs some breathing room. He finished off the Vols with another 3, swishing one from the left wing to put his team up 61-51 with 2:42 remaining. Wright smiled to the Georgia faithful as he headed up court.
Wright hit 4-of-7 outside the arc. Damien Wilkins added 18 points, while Jonas Hayes chipped in with 16.
Tennessee fell apart during Georgia's 10-0 run. The Vols failed to touch the rim on four straight possessions, throwing it away three times before McFadgon put up an airball.
The only consolation for the Vols: The 11-point loss was their best effort yet in an SEC road game. Brandon Crump led with 18 points, but he wasn't very effective after picking up his fourth foul with more than 10 minutes remaining. McFadgon was held to 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting. C.J. Watson managed only 4 points, missing all eight of his shots from the field.
Hayes hit an 18-foot jumper at the buzzer to end the first half, sending the Bulldogs to the locker room with a 31-29 lead. They never trailed in the second half, steadfastly guarding their advantage with the style that suits them best: tough and physical on defense, deliberate on offense.
Things got really testy late in the first half when Georgia's Levi Stukes stole the ball and was going in for a layup, only to get hit hard by McFadgon while going up. An intentional foul was called, then Georgia's Marcus Sikes jumped into the fray, throwing the ball at McFadgon, then shoving Dane Bradshaw. Jemere Hendrix confronted Sikes, but the officials stepped in before a full-scale brawl erupted.
After sorting things out with the help on television replays, the refs
assessed two technical fouls on Tennessee and one on the Bulldogs.