Thornton returns as Bulldogs beat Tennessee 57-53 in overtime

Georgia's John Florveus sends Tennessee's Cameron Tatum packing with this blocked shot in a defensive slugfest Wednesday night at Stegeman Coliseum. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com)

Georgia's John Florveus sends Tennessee's Cameron Tatum packing with this blocked shot in a defensive slugfest Wednesday night at Stegeman Coliseum. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com)

ATHENS – To look at the stat sheet handed out at the end of Georgia’s 57-53 overtime win over Tennessee Wednesday night, one would think Marcus Thornton had little to no impact on the proceedings. The sophomore from Atlanta’s line read: 23 minutes played, zero points, 1 rebound, 4 personal fouls.

But to the man who fills out the lineup card for the Bulldogs, there was not a more important contributor.

“I was really pleased with our defense and, I gotta tell you, the main reason was Marcus Thornton was back,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “He gave us an element we’ve been missing since he’s been out.”

Thornton, a 6-foot-9 power forward, has been out since going down with a knee injury in the Furman game on Dec. 23. Shortly after Christmas he underwent arthroscopic surgery and has remained sidelined until now. Thornton returned to the court just 3:52 into Wednesday’s game and Tennessee immediately felt his presence.

The Vols shot just 34.9 percent for the game — the first time this season an SEC team hasn’t shot under 50 percent — and their big men accounted for 11 of their 20 turnovers, 16 if you count 6-foot-7 swingman Cameron Tatum.

“Marcus made a huge impact for us defensively,” Fox said. “He hasn’t been able to play or even practice in a month and he really made some key plays for us. We didn’t know he could play until yesterday when he went to the doctor, but there was zero hesitation in our decision. We needed him on defense.”

Said Thornton: “I was just so happy to get out there and fight and help us get a win against a rival like Tennessee.”

Thornton helped get the Bulldogs in position to win. It was Donte Williams, Gerald Robinson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who made the plays in overtime to actually secure victory.

Williams made a lay-up off a Robinson feed with 1:03 left in overtime and was fouled on the play. Williams missed the subsequent free throw, but Caldwell-Pope snuck into the lane for the rebound and Georgia kept possession and a 54-53 lead.

The Bulldogs ran down the clock to 39.8 seconds when Williams missed a contested layup. But this time Nemanja Djurisic rebounded the miss. Robinson was eventually fouled and made both ends of a one-and-one for 56-53 advantage with 26.4 seconds to go. Tennessee’s Trae Golden missed an harried lay-up attempt and Caldwell-Pope’s free throw provided the final margin.

“The play was for Gerald to go baseline, but my dude came to help, so he dished it off to me and I knew I had to finish, it was crunch time,” said Williams, who finished with 11 points for the Bulldogs. “Coach Fox drew up a good play and I just knew it was going to work for some reason.”

The victory was quite a relief for the Bulldogs (10-8, 1-3 SEC), who recorded their first SEC win of the season. It came on their first of a three-game homestand. Georgia plays host to Ole Miss on Saturday at 4 p.m.

“We know we can’t relax,” Robinson said. “We know we’ve got another game Saturday and we’ve got to take care of our homecourt. But it’s a positive step forward.”

Robinson, who twice had to leave the game with an injured left ankle, led the Bulldogs with 16 points. He also had 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

Donte Williams and Nemanja Djurisic added 11 apiece. Leading scorer Caldwell-Pope was held to 9 points but made key defensive plays down the stretch of the game, which was tied 46-all at the end of regulation.

The Vols fall to 8-10 overall and 1-3 in league play. Golden, a sophomore guard from Powder Springs, led Tennessee with 16 points.

Djurisic looked like he might have made the play of the game when he blocked a shot, came away with the ball and went coast-to-coast for an underhanded, layup and a 52-50 lead with 2:32 left in overtime. But only 22 seconds later, Tennessee’s Skylar McBee, who had not scored a point in regulation, made a 3 from the left wing to get the Vols back out front 53-52.

Robinson tied for Georgia at 46-all on a driving lay-up from the left wing with 18.3 seconds remaining. Tennessee got the ball down the floor then called timeout with 18 seconds left. The Bulldogs matched with a timeout of their own.

All that the Vols got out of that was a rushed eight-foot, fall-away jumper from Golden that the Bulldogs rebounded with six-tenths of a second remaining. It’s debatable whether Caldwell-Pope’s three-quarters court heave would have even counted after a timeout, but it didn’t hit anything.

“This game really showed the character of both teams,” Fox said. “We both played really hard and I’m very pround of my team and the way they battled to stay in it and win this game.”

55 comments Add your comment

RaleighDawg

January 18th, 2012
11:58 pm

Glad to have Marcus back !

BiggDawgK

January 19th, 2012
12:23 am

One game at a time Bulldogs. It’s tough to have a young squad but each new game helps you get better.

Dale

January 19th, 2012
12:44 am

Good deal. Keep ‘em coming.

William

January 19th, 2012
1:02 am

That’s more like it. The Dogs can play if given time. With all we lost from last year I’m suprised they are doing this good.

Coastal Dawg

January 19th, 2012
1:13 am

Way to go Dawgs! Lost too much to be a serious contender, but looking for improvement as the year progresses. Coach Fox and his Hounds continue to impress. The program will continue to rise and will be feared.

Georgia 57, Tennessee 53 – ESPN

January 19th, 2012
1:51 am

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Thomas Brown

January 19th, 2012
4:16 am

Mr. Chip Towers, sir :

Here is a URL Link to the Official Game Ranked and Year Ranked :

http://www.cfbtrivia.com/cfbt_detail.php?teamname=Georgia&fry=2011&thy=2011&tgrk=on&jpl=on

Game Ranked at this site means ranked at game time. Please note Florida was not Game Ranked, and also sir please note Auburn was Game Ranked. It shows

Year Ranked.

Year Ranked and Game Ranked are shown at this site Officially for Both the AP Poll and the Coaches’ Poll at

GAME TIME

and, for the entire course of their season, which is what Mr. Chris Low of ESPN states repeatedly is the best measure of what a team’s actual worth is.

YEAR RANKED.

In other words, the Only Polls Published for Any and All Seasons – the Final Polls sir.

Thomas Brown

January 19th, 2012
4:17 am

(1) I do not think it takes any special knowledge to know that we didn’t beat the teams who ended up in the Top 10, nor that we didn’t beat the teams who ended up in the Top 25. This includes the bowl game loss, like our bowl game loss last season too.
(2) I do not think it is UNTRUE and INACCURATE to state that Georgia has not done well Officially against either those teams who are ranked at game time, nor against those who in fact over the entire course of the season proved their true merit, or lack thereof, and ended up Officially Not Top 25 for the season.

How difficult is that to understand sir ? Indeed, how difficult is it to understand that Flat Tire on I-95 isn’t particularly impressed with how in fact we are doing ?

Try reading the other posters to this blog, sir ?

Shall I go back and find those posts which you have not capriciously deleted, which likewise don’t consider that we are doing all that well against either teams ranked at game time nor the more relevant against teams who over the course of the season, in fact Officially, in the Only Polls Published for the seasons, ended up Top 25 teams.

Thomas Brown

January 19th, 2012
4:18 am

But, to state that Flat Tire on I-95 cannot post to your blog how we’ve done against teams finishing in the AP Poll Top 10 or Top 25, when we are absolutely HORRIBLE at it, is nothing but pure and simple

CENSORSHIP.

Now, put Flat Tire on I-95’s post Back Up Sir on this Blog and let US decide and discuss with him whether his post is untrue or inaccurate.

That’s not your job as the Sports Beat-Writer for The Georgia Bulldogs on The AJ-C sir, to DELETE posts you say are untrue or inaccurate, while you discuss plain mean and spiteful – allowing INSTEAD SIR the replies to Flat Tire on I-95 which do not ever discuss what he wrote, just that they absolutely want to be mean and spiteful to Flat Tire on I-95.

Sir, it is THOSE POSTS which should be deleted. Not Flat Tire on I-95’s blog posts which offend you because you cannot determine that he

AIN’T IMPRESSED WITH US HERE AT GEORGIA IN FOOTBALL.

Thomas Brown

January 19th, 2012
4:20 am

We have 25 Losses these last 6 seasons.

Does it offend you that 25 Losses ain’t good for 6 years of UGA Bulldogs’ Football ?

Had enough

January 19th, 2012
5:56 am

If felton was coaching this team,they would have 5 wins right now.Mark Fox has 10 and could get this team in the nit.

tenn.DAWG

January 19th, 2012
6:16 am

Great game,I hope they can find more ways to get the ball inside now that MT is back.

Reality Check

January 19th, 2012
7:29 am

Thornton did nothing. He was completely useless as usual. He is the laziest player that I have ever seen in a Georgia uniform. When he is on the court it is like having only 4 players out there.

Gainesville Dawg

January 19th, 2012
8:07 am

Reality Check, go back to your own team’s blog and stop pretending to be a UGA fan! Glad Thornton is back!!! Go, Hoop Dawgs!!!!!

Bright Idea

January 19th, 2012
8:10 am

TV Teddy Valentine was lettin’ em’ play. Several muggings underneath but no whistle. Ugly game but a win is a win.

funny...

January 19th, 2012
8:21 am

holy crap Thomas Brown, do you even know what you are posting?

get a life.

go outside.

Hoops Fan

January 19th, 2012
8:41 am

Great to see the guys get a win – they needed the little shot of confidence. Thornton is a strong defender and it’s great to have him back. Nice to see the bigs progressing; this season has been, and will continue to be frustrating to watch at times, but very entertaining at others. A typical season for a young group with a solid coach. Hope GR, Jr. is ok, that would be a huge blow.
Go Dawgs!

Top Row Dawg

January 19th, 2012
8:55 am

Alright hoop dogs, win the home games, sneak one on the road. Good to be at full strength. Good win!

IL Jacket

January 19th, 2012
8:58 am

Congrats, Dawgs on your big win.

Beast from the East

January 19th, 2012
9:34 am

They should rename this the “Thomas Brown Vent”.

Congrats on the win, Dawgs.

Jerry Blooger

January 19th, 2012
9:35 am

ALL trolls suck

oger

January 19th, 2012
9:44 am

Great Win! It would be awesome to see these guys go on a little run. Fox has got this team playing with a lot of heart. Dawg Fans – lets fill up Stegman on Saturday.

Thomas Brown, your posts give me a headache. Get some sleep, dog!

BulldogBen

January 19th, 2012
9:48 am

Congrats on the win Dawgs but let’s take it easy on the “big win” talk. Yes, I’d rather win over UT than lose to them but they’re are pretty bad team right now with a new coach. We’re in Year 3 of the Mark Fox Era and we’re looking at another year of no post-season play (8-8 in SEC play this year would be optimistic, did you watch the games against Bama, UF, and Vandy??)

I understand we lost 2 NBA talent players but even with them we went 9-7 in the SEC. This was a hire that was supposed to change the culture of the program and yet here we are again.

I hope he proves me wrong and we go on a tear but I just see us sitting here 3 years from now with the same complaints we always have with this basketball program.

Also, right now, Anthony Grant>>>>>>>>>Mark Fox.

Whatabout?

January 19th, 2012
10:40 am

What happened to nick marshall? i thought he was going to play bb after fb season was over…..anybody know?

sportsgenius21

January 19th, 2012
10:44 am

proud of my bulldogs keep the fight we are a young improving basketball team and having senior guards always makes things G Rob and dustin were huge last night
GO DAWGS lets beat the ole misses on saturday

DawginLex

January 19th, 2012
10:51 am

nick marshall is not playing basketball this year

old dog

January 19th, 2012
11:08 am

Chip,
We’re coming! I’m ready for the fans to get fired up about the roundball! When I was there (back in the dark ages) Hugh Durham allowed the students down on the floor, and we had a ball. I was gone way before we made the final four, but was there for ‘Nique’s freshman year, and it was fun I firmly believe if we get behind coach Fox he will build us a program…….it takes awhile but I think he can!

Frank Lane

January 19th, 2012
11:10 am

Good job, men.

Billdawg69/71

January 19th, 2012
11:29 am

Thomas Brown – Statistics can be interpreted to prove anything. Your rambling posts only emphasize the point that this is a team that has been growing game by game.
Realize we are not where we want to be. However, Against LSU, our defense proved it’s mettle. Only our offensive team gave the game away with turnovers and the inability to generate first downs. The Defense spent the whole second half on the field. We are only short of a congealed OL and some experience on special teams from being a genuine top ten team. Don’t forget, our offense also gave the SC game away.

Take your negative diatribe to whatever team you really are a fan of and spin your vitriol on your own team. The Dawgs are almost “back”. I see a bright future!

Go Dawgs!

Jborodawg

January 19th, 2012
11:55 am

I could have sworn this was an article about UGA basketball.

Unbelievable how many minutes Thornton was able to play, after being out so long. Great job, Marcus. Demmie was outstanding too; a great surprise.

A good win. The low attendance was pretty sad; as was coach Fox having to exhort the crowd to make some noise.

washking

January 19th, 2012
12:07 pm

what happened to Nick Marshall trying to play bball ?

Hoops Dawg

January 19th, 2012
12:13 pm

If Mark Fox gets this team to the NIT, he will deserve Coach of the Year designation in the SEC. That’s not to badmouth the players, but only to note how hard it is to rebuild an entire frontline after losing its three top contributors. Mark Fox can be in Athens for a long time IF he proves that he can recruit elite Georgia talent. KCP was a step in the right direction, but I can’t tell you how disappointed I’ve been that he could not land one of the three 5-star power forwards in the state this year.I suspect this has something to do with the “counsel” the elite prospects are getting from the AAU politboro in this state who want Fox to kiss their Keysters.

robodawg

January 19th, 2012
1:06 pm

Great! Glad to have Thornton back and hope we’ll be much more competitive now.

SteveW

January 19th, 2012
3:22 pm

Coach Fox is building a program – I hope we give him time to do it. 1st season – Only 1 recruit really – and that is Vincent the PG. 2nd year, no room for recruits, but he got Donte and Marcus, who are now true So’s – Last season, got alot of recruits, and they are going to be good. A solid recruiting class this season.

Give it a couple of years, and the Dogs will be top shelf year in and year out.

SteveW

January 19th, 2012
3:27 pm

Donte has really stepped up, and he’s only a Sophomore. Nemanja is a Fr.. Thornton is a So. Of course Pope is only a Fr. – but he’s probably a 2 and one. Coach Fox really has some exciting things going on for the future in Athens. Recruiting solid guys, and most will be around 4 years which really helps to build a program.

SteveW

January 19th, 2012
3:28 pm

I predicted the Dawgs would only win 2 SEC games this season. We may win more. Just a down year. But KCP is going to be a real good one for the Dawgs – like he could possibly carry this team next season.

GTBob

January 19th, 2012
3:56 pm

I wondered why there weren’t more UGA basketball blogs.

A blog about two football players in a foot race in practice: 450 posts
A blog about basketball: 37 posts

Now I know.

Alabama Teabagger

January 19th, 2012
4:10 pm

ROLL DAMN TIDE!!!!!!

Jefferson Davis Hogg

January 19th, 2012
4:31 pm

GTB(.)(.)b…..Funny you mention B-ball blogs….Kens last blog about the GT Md game had a whopping 5 hits in 3 days….1 hit every 14.2 hrs….lol……

UGA Golfer

January 19th, 2012
4:55 pm

Great win, but let’s not get to excited about this season. Growing pains will be the theme. Long way to go to reach the NCAA Tournament again which should be the ultimate goal each and every season. No more excuses after this season!

washking

January 19th, 2012
5:22 pm

nick marshall isnt playing?

South Georgia Dog

January 19th, 2012
5:31 pm

We need to pack the Steg if we are ever going to get top in-state recruits. I’m driving 200 miles saturday to be in the Steg. Go Dawgs !!!! Beat Ole Miss !!!

Sacco

January 19th, 2012
6:04 pm

Why is Teddy Valentine allowed to referee at the Division 1 level? If anyone has ever noticed him you know what I’m taking about. Coach Fox knows what he is doing. Give him time and we will be relevant on a consistent basis.

D-MAN

January 19th, 2012
7:14 pm

Until we lock up the state,not gonna hang with UK for SEC championships!

Proud-Dawg

January 19th, 2012
8:44 pm

UGA has had little success in basketball. It’s up to CMF to build a foundation for the future. Unfortunately, he is not known as a great recruiter. That has to change in order to be a consistent program.

Gen Neyland

January 19th, 2012
10:34 pm

This was the same Tennessee team that beat then ranked #13 Florida. Home court helps provide good outcomes more often than not, even for us sub-par teams. Surprised it took OT for UGA to accomplish the deed..! We both have to look to our futures.

Coach T

January 19th, 2012
10:39 pm

Coach Fox has the program going in the right direction….plain to see. KCP, Nemmie, Williams will all contribute. This is a tournament sport…..we may surprise. Go Dawgs!

The Tide is rolling and nothing can stop it

January 20th, 2012
8:45 am

Why do you guys wade in mediocrity amongst two sports. The “get mine” attitude of your entire state does hold you back in football, but could become a very valuable asset in basketball. Please just become a basketball school and give Kentucky some competition. The penal colony doesn’t have to wait on another Herschel Walker to have a relevant year in all sports.

Alabama Teabagger

January 20th, 2012
8:55 am

roll tide!!!!!

DawginLex

January 20th, 2012
9:07 am

tide trolling

Vandy just spanked you at home and Kentucky will beat you by 30 this weekend so shutup overrate loser

Mulligan U!!

i wish I could play all my golf in alabama!!