After battling back from three points down early in the second half, Georgia managed to clinch its win in the game’s closing seconds. The Bulldogs took a 70-69 lead after Mike Mercer’s 3-pointer and sophomore Younes Idrissi forced Clemson to take an off-balanced shot at the other end of the court. Georgia’s Levi Stukes was then able to sprint past the Tigers and convert a breakaway layup to make the score 72-69 with 11.6 seconds remaining.
Following the game, Georgia head coach Dennis Felton said he felt confident this year’s squad would show drastic improvement from the 2004-05 season.
“I was never too worried about winning more games than last year this season,” Felton said. “Our expectations were high going into the season and I think this was a tremendous win for our team.”
Another pair of Bulldogs also shined during the team’s first win in its last three games. While Sundiata Gaines dished out a career-high eight assists, freshman Billy Humphrey recorded eight rebounds. Felton believes his team winning the rebounding war (43-37) was the difference in this game.
“I could not have possibly made it any clearer to our guys about what we had to do to win,” said Felton, whose team experienced seven ties with Clemson, including a 33-all score at halftime. “There were several parts to our game plan and I told them rebounding, and especially rebounding, is going to determine whether or not we win this game.”
Leading the Bulldogs were freshman Mike Mercer, who scored a career-high 22 points, and Stukes, who scored 10 of his 17 points in the second half and added five steals. In addition, freshman center Rashaad Singleton notched a career-high eight points and two blocks for the Bulldogs. For Clemson, K.C. Rivers led the way with 14 points and six rebounds.
The Bulldogs second game of a four-game homestand comes against Western Carolina on Saturday, Dec. 31, at 4 p.m.