Georgia snapped the nation’s longest home winning streak and claimed a Southeastern Conference opening win as the Bulldogs knocked off No. 21 Missouri 70-64 in overtime at Mizzou Arena. Georgia moved to 7-6 on the season.
The victory ended Missouri’s 26-game home winning streak that stretched back to February 21, 2012. It was also Georgia’s first ever win against the Tigers.
Charles Mann led the Bulldogs in scoring with 18 points while Nemanja Djurisic added 16 points and Kenny Gaines and Brandon Morris contributed 11 and 10 points respectively. Morris tallied a team high seven rebounds in 29 minutes while Mann and Marcus Thornton added 6 boards.
The difference in the game was Georgia’s domination on the offensive glass, more than doubling up the favored Tigers 15 – 7. As a result, Georgia shot 4 more times from the field and only made one less free throw despite again shooting free throws poorly.
“I’m really proud of our team. I’ve been critical of the defense, their rebounding, and their toughness and tonight those three things won it for us,” said Georgia head coach Mark Fox. “I wasn’t their yesterday but our staff did a great job preparing our team. We had the right mentality when we came to the game tonight. I thought we were very attached mentally to our game plan and had very few mistakes. We gathered ourselves and Nemi Djurisic recomposed himself and we finished the game really well.”
The Bulldogs victory came as they fought back from a five point hole early in the overtime period. After an Earnest Ross free throw gave the Tigers a 63-58 lead, Djurisic began finding success in the low post as the visitors ball movement began to take effect on Missouri.
Three Djurisic baskets led the Bulldogs into a 63-63 tie at the 1:40 mark and from there Georgia would not trail again. A Mann layup which showcased incredible balance and tenacity gave Georgia the 65-63 lead. The Bulldogs, who struggled from the free-throw line most of the game, sent free throw ace Kenny Gaines to the charity stripe to close out the game.
Georgia played is best ball of the night in overtime, shooting 80% from the field including 50% on three point attempts, and shooting 83% on free throws. Georgia finished the contest on a 12-1 run over the final 2:30.
The visitors quickly jumped out to a 8-0 half-time lead that forced the Tigers into an early time-out. Gaines provided much of the early spark for the Bulldogs as he collected a basket, an assist and a steal to help propel the visitors to the early advantage.
Missouri trimmed the Georgia lead to one point at the 10:16 mark after a Jabari Brown layup pulled the Tigers back to 15-14. The Bulldogs fell behind for the first and only point in the first period with 5:56 remaining as the hosts went ahead 19-20.
From there Djurisic pulled Georgia back into a dominant position as he hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Bulldogs on top 25-20. A layup from Donte Williams and a 3 from Gaines gave Georgia its biggest lead of the half at 30-20. While the Tigers were able to pull the deficit back to 30-25 at the half-time buzzer, it was the Bulldogs running to the locker room buzzing with energy.
The Bulldogs were led in first half scoring by Djurisic with nine points, while Williams collected four boards in the first stanza. Gaines’s two steals led the Bulldogs as they forced eight Tigers turnovers. Georgia surprised most experts with 7 fast break baskets to Missouri’s 2 and with 18 bench points to Missouri’s 10
After dominating large stretches of the first half the Bulldogs struggled to keep a hold on the game as Missouri pulled themselves back into the game, going ahead for the first time in the period at the 15:14 mark on a 3-pointer by Earnest Ross.
Georgia pulled level at the 6:55 mark on a Brandon Morris layup followed by a Gaines layup to give the Bulldogs the lead once again. Even as the hosts pulled out to a three point lead the visitors refused to give up pulled ahead 56-53 before a Jordan Clarkson 3-pointer sent the contest to overtime.
The Bulldogs return to action when they welcome the Alabama Crimson Tide to Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday with tip-off scheduled for 4 PM ET. The game will be televised live on SEC TV.