His first attempt didn’t go well, and he continued to try to get the perfect shot for the next ten minutes. Clearly this game was a rarity for Gardner-Webb – the taking of pictures to commemorate the affair was a dead giveaway for that.
Speaking of giveaways, the Bulldogs turned the ball over 15 times in the first half. That’s fifteen, as in the number of Division I-level players Georgia would have had in years past. But probation and the likes of Jim Harrick’s recruiting tactics can do these sorts of things to a program. To Georgia’s credit, they turned the ball over only four times in the second half.
“We talked about that at the half,” said Georgia Head Coach Dennis Felton. “We re-explained that stealing the ball was something they did well.
Dave Bliss did manage to stay in the game longer than four minutes – he played that amount only against Georgia Tech before he fouled out. Bliss, who has been Georgia’s (for lack of a better term) go to player, played much better against the other Bulldogs. That may have been in part to Gardner-Webb’s lack of size.
“He had a lot of success,” said Felton of getting the ball to Bliss. “We wanted to get him the ball tonight because we felt like that was our best option of attack. We got more determined to get the ball inside tonight.”
Bliss finished the night with 17 points.
Gardner-Webb, whose coach attended, but did not play basketball, at Georgia, did have a go to player – Tim Jennings. No, not THE Tim Jennings. This Tim Jennings wore number 1, not number 23. But he did end up with a game-leading 21 points.
“I was wondering if he was an SEC caliber basketball player,” said Gardner-Webb Head Coach Rick Scruggs said approvingly.
Georgia’s guards could not match Jennings’ speed or scoring ability all night. He took the ball from the point at the top of the key and drove the ball with success more often than not. Jennings hit a critical three-pointer with as many minutes left in the game. The Bulldogs squandered seemingly never-ending chances at the charity stripe in the latter parts of the second half. But they still had a shot to win with less than a minute to go.
Levi Stukes broke a 59-all tie with two free throws to give Georgia a two-point lead with 1:09 to go in the game. After a defensive stop, Corey Gibbs, who had missed several free throws earlier in the second half, stepped to the line and made two to push the Georgia advantage to four.
Gardner-Webb could not covert on their final offensive possessions and the Bulldogs clawed their way to a 67-62 win.
“I think Georgia just wanted it more tonight,” said Scruggs.
It seemed that way – this was the best Georgia has look all season long.