Charles Mann’s free throw with 1.5 showing on the Stegeman Coliseum clock gave Georgia a 61-60 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels and sole possession of third place in the Southeastern Conference. It was Georgia’s smallest margin of victory and biggest win of the season.
While the moment belonged to Charles Mann, the day belonged to Kenny Gaines. Gaines led the Bulldogs in scoring with 21 including 19 in the second half. In between offensive heroics, Gaines raced and chased the villainous Rebel Marshal Henderson. Henderson led the Rebels in scoring with 24 points but was checked in crunch time by the defensive efforts of Gaines.
The win is Georgia’s fourth straight and ran its record to 14-10 overall and 8-4 in the SEC.
Mann scored 17 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Donte Williams scored 8 points and claimed 7 rebounds. Marcus Thornton, making his 50th start, was the top Bulldog rebounder with 11 rebounds and Brandon Morris claimed 7 rebounds. Georgia outrebounded Ole Miss 49-34 and improved to 14-3 when outrebounding opponents this season.
“I told our team at shoot around today that it was going to be an absolute battle and that’s what this game was. Ole Miss has a really good team. They’ve got a team that understands how to win. We knew today would be an absolute battle, and both teams played super hard and both teams made a lot of plays,” Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. “I thought that Kenny Gaines responded very well in the second half after being saddled with foul trouble in the first half. His play in the second half was critical. I thought Charles Mann’s effort, getting loose balls [was terrific]. He did so many different things tonight that impacted the game that I thought his effort was terrific. That’s a great win for our school. We had a terrific crowd, and I’m certainly proud of our team.”
During the last 2 minutes of the game, there were 3 ties and each team led once before the Bulldogs sealed the victory. Kenny Gaines, who hit 5-of-8 3-pointers in the second half, sunk his biggest with 47 seconds left on the clock to put the Bulldogs up 60-57. A Jarvis Summers 3-point play pulled the Rebels even with 33 seconds. Charles Mann then dribbled the clock down to its final stroke before before inducing a shooting foul from Ole Miss Center Dwight Coleby. After missing his first attempt, Mann knocked down the second, leaving Ole Miss to attempt a desperate long pass that sailed high, igniting the Bulldog celebration.
Georgia returns to action on Tuesday to begin a two game road swing to Knoxville, Tenn., to face Tennessee before heading to Columbia, S.C., for a return date with South Carolina. The games will be televised by ESPNU and SEC TV respectively.
The Bulldogs return home for the penultimate game of the season on Feb. 25 against the Missouri Tigers. The game will be televised live by ESPNU.