December 7, 2010

Ware comes up big for Dawgs

ATLANTA - Georgia coach Mark Fox had a feeling Tuesday night might belong to Dustin Ware.

It turns out he was correct.

Ware's 3-pointer with 15.2 seconds to play, gave the Bulldogs a lead they wouldn't relinquish, a bucket that propelled Georgia to a thrilling 73-72 win before an Alexander Memorial Coliseum crowd of 6,725.

"I told the staff last night that I thought Dustin would shoot the ball well," Fox said. "He was shooting the ball well in practice last night. You just have to give Gerald (Robinson) a great pass to the open man and he (Ware) was able to stick the basket, certainly a big basket for our program."

Ware's game-winning shot wasn't his only big play.

The junior guard proved stellar for the Bulldogs, going 7-of-9 from the field - all from 3-point range - and finished with 21 points to tie Trey Thompkins for tops on the team. Ware's seven 3-pointers established a new career high.

But obviously, none were bigger than the final one he nailed from the right wing which enabled the Bulldogs (6-2) to secure their third straight win.

After a Georgia Tech turnover with 1:15 to play, the Bulldogs stayed patient until calling a timeout with 30 seconds to play, 22 on the shot clock.

With the clock ticking down, Robinson penetrated from the top of the key, before dishing off to Ware who had settled just outside the right wing. His shot found nothing but net.

"I felt great all night long," Ware said. "It all started in practice as I had a great shoot-around (Monday). I just credit my coaches and teammates for having confidence in me."

Tech coach Paul Hewitt said he warned his team to keep an eye on Ware.

"I thought we did decent job getting under it, but Robinson is really quick getting to the rime and you have to respect his ability to get to the rim and you don't want to give up a layup in that situation," Hewitt said. "They shot 44 percent but obviously the big number is 54 percent from three-point range."

With 18 seconds play, Tech's Glen Rice Jr. hit an uncontested layup which was followed by Robinson getting fouled with four seconds to go.

However, the junior transfer from Tennessee State missed both free throws, resulting in Tech getting one more opportunity after the ball dribbled out of bounds underneath the Bulldog basket.

Only 2.8 seconds remained, but a long inbounds pass by Tech failed to find its mark, enabling Georgia to hold onto the one-point victory.

The victory was Georgia's first over the Yellow Jackets on Tech's home court in four tries. It also marked Georgia's second true road victory in two attempts after going 0-11 on the opposing team's court during the regular season last year.

"We've defeated two good teams on the road, two good programs," said Fox, whose Bulldogs beat Saint Louis back on Nov. 20. "We're starting to grow but we've got a long ways to go. I'm not ready to crown us champions of the South, but we're growing and starting to mature and learn how to play away from home."

Robinson chipped in with 11 points for Georgia and along with Ware dished out a team-high six assists.

For the game, Georgia players contributed 23 assists and only turned the ball over seven times and won despite a sub-par performance from Travis Leslie, who found himself in early foul trouble and finished with just four points.

Iman Shumpert led Georgia Tech (4-4) with 18 points.

Leslie, meanwhile, struggled from the outset.

The Decatur native picked up two fouls in the first 3:13 of the game and found himself on the bench, while the Yellow Jackets jumped out to an early advantage before settling for a 35-29 halftime lead.

Despite the six-point edge, the first half stats were remarkably close with both teams shooting just 40 percent from the field.

But the difference was rebounding. Georgia Tech outrebounded the Bulldogs 24-to-15 in the first half and made all four of its free throws while Georgia missed all four of its attempts.

The Bulldogs were probably fortunate to just be trailing by six as the Jackets had a 10-point lead with less than three minutes to play before a 3-pointer by Sherrard Brantley brought the Bulldogs within 31-24.

After a break for finals, Georgia returns to action Dec. 18 for a home game against Arkansas State, one of five remaining contests before opening SEC play Jan. 8 against Kentucky.

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