Ware lights it up from long range in UGA win

Photo by Mike Phillips

Photo by Mike Phillips

ATLANTA -- The smallest guy on the court made the biggest shot of the game.

A bunch of 'em, actually.

Dustin Ware hit his seventh 3-pointer of the game with 15.3 seconds remaining, leading Georgia to a 73-72 win over Georgia Tech on Tuesday night.

Ware scored all 21 of his points from outside the arc, missing only twice from long range. With the game tied at 70, Gerald Robinson drove toward the lane, luring the defense away from Ware, then kicked it back out to the 5-foot-11 junior standing all alone at the stripe.

Even with Mfon Udofia desperately running at him, Ware swished the shot to give the Bulldogs (6-2) a 73-70 lead. Georgia Tech (4-4) passed up a chance at a tying 3, settling for Glen Rice's uncontested layup with 6.8 seconds remaining.

"Gerald came in and made a great play," Ware said. "I was wide open. We were able to pull it out."

Robinson missed a pair of free throws, giving the Yellow Jackets one last chance. But a long heave from the baseline was picked off in front of the Georgia basket by Travis Leslie, sealing the win for the road team.

Georgia Tech knew the Bulldogs would be looking for Ware on the decisive play, but they still lost track of him.

"I don't know what happened," Brian Oliver said.

Trey Thompkins also had 21 points for the Bulldogs. Iman Shumpert led Georgia Tech with 18 points but struggled with cramps, forcing him to the bench in the critical final minutes, though senior Maurice Miller did a solid job filling the playmaking slot.

In fact, the Yellow Jackets appeared to be in control when Miller made a slick move around Jeremy Price, dumping off a pass to Daniel Miller for a dunk that made it 70-65 with 2:14 remaining. But that would be Georgia Tech's final basket until Rice's layup near the end.

Thompkins worked inside, banked it in and was fouled by Daniel Miller. The free throw completed the three-point play, and Georgia was right back in the game. After Maurice Miller missed on a drive at the other end, Leslie grabbed the rebound and spotted Robinson breaking in the clear. He caught the pass right in stride and laid in the tying basket with 1:21 remaining.

Oliver missed an awkward jumper looking to put the Yellow Jackets back in the lead. After calling a timeout when Thompkins got tied up under the basket, the Bulldogs drew up the winning shot by Ware, who let the ball go just before the shot clock buzzer went off.

"We talked about it in the huddle before we came out to make sure we knew exactly where he is, because they're probably going to look for him," Oliver said.

Georgia completed a prized sweep of its state rival, following up a 42-34 victory in football 10 days earlier. The road team won for only the second time in the last 14 years, with the Bulldogs also winning in Atlanta almost a decade ago to the day.

The Yellow Jackets led by as many as 10 points in the first half before settling for a 35-29 edge at the break. Georgia finally took its first lead, 48-47, on Sherrard Brantley's 3-pointer with just over 12 minutes remaining.

Overall, the Bulldogs were 12 of 22 from beyond the arc, compared to an 8-of-20 performance by the Yellow Jackets.

"We thought we had some matchups we could exploit," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "At the end of the day, we didn't defend the 3-point line well enough."

The loss is sure to turn up the heat on Hewitt, whose team already has an embarrassing setback to little-known Kennesaw State on its record. A crowd of only 6,725 turned out at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on a frigid night, nearly 2,500 short of capacity.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, keep playing close games. Five of their six wins have been by three points or less, and they also have a double-overtime loss to Notre Dame. They have yet to play a game decided by double figures.

Georgia pulled this one out even with Leslie, averaging 15.4 points a game, playing only 18 minutes because of foul trouble. He scored just four points.

"That is good experience for us," coach Mark Fox said. "We didn't panic. We're growing, but I'm not crowning us champions of the South."