Sundiata Gaines fought hard and ended the day with 14 points and 12 rebounds. It was his finest rebounding performance of the season. He was aggressive and physical. Gaines battled for loose balls and attacked the basket on offense. It was the sort of performance Dennis Felton must have been glad to see from his point guard.
“He was terrific,” said Felton. “He made the free throws at the end of the game when we needed them and that was big. He had great tenacity today. He also made a big defensive stop to end their run.”
Gaines’ effort help Georgia get a double digit lead midway through the second half. They appeared to be on their way to a bow out win, but near the end of the game Auburn whittled the Bulldog advantage to only four. Gaines forced an offensive foul from the Tigers on defense. That’s when walk-on Kevin Brohpy hit a critical three to give Georgia a 49-42 advantage. Brophy got the ball from Dave Bliss who passed the ball out of a double team for the assist. Bliss ended the game with ten rebounds and four assists.
Auburn was never able to recover from that sequence of events.
From there the Bulldogs outlasted the Tigers with their defense. Auburn managed only three points the rest of the game. Georgia finally did it down the stretch. It had been nearly a month since Georgia played that well at the end of the game.
Levi Stukes (15 points on four three-pointers) and Channing Toney’s return from injury sparked a steadier Bulldog offense the entire game. But Steve Newman had probably his best game of the SEC season. He didn’t hesitate around the basket and seemed confident in his scoring ability. The result was a 13-point performance. He hasn’t performed like that since the loss to LSU at the start of this month. If Newman is capable of producing like this the rest of the season a few more wins are not out of the question.
“Steve scored more efficiently today. We talk about being more forceful around the rim – we work on it constantly,” said Felton. Newman’s work paid off today.
Georgia’s defense must be given credit for the win, too. The Bulldogs allowed the Tigers only 14 points at the first half. Auburn’s 45-point day is their second worst offensive performance of the season. The game makes two in a row that the Tigers have not scored only 50 points. They scored only 43 on Wednesday in a loss to Vanderbilt. Auburn now falls to 3-9 in SEC play. The Bulldogs improve to 2-10.