ATHENS, Ga. — This one didn’t seem to arouse anger. There was no controversy, like the week before. This loss, for the Georgia men’s basketball team, was just about pain.
The result, however, was the same: A heart-wrenching loss thanks to a last-second shot by an opposing player.
In overtime, with Georgia seemingly headed for the win, Florida’s Erving Walker drilled a long three-pointer with a second left. That forced a second overtime, where the Gators ran away from the Bulldogs for a 104-91 win.
“A devastating loss,” Georgia’s Travis Leslie said.
It came after a flurry of dramatic moments, first by Georgia, then by Florida:
Georgia’s Trey Thompkins made a put-back as the buzzer sounded in regulation to force overtime. That capped a stirring comeback by the Bulldogs, who trailed by eight with three minutes left.
Then came the second overtime, which was back-and-forth until the Bulldogs grabbed a three-point lead with 6.7 seconds left.
That was when Walker drilled a shot from about 25 feet left.
“I thought we had the win already,” said Leslie, who was at the top of the key few feet away from Walker.
“It shocked everybody,” said senior Jeremy Price, whose two free throws had extended it to a three-point Georgia lead. “Tough players make tough plays, and he’s a tough guy.”
In those final six seconds, the Bulldogs could have elected to foul. But head coach Mark Fox said he elected to let it play out.
“We have always trusted our defense,” Fox said. “And in that situation, especially the way the rebounding was going the second half, I didn’t feel like we were going to do anything different.”
Ironically, Walker said he thought he heard Fox “say something” about fouling him.
“So I just tried to take the three before they could foul me,” Walker said. “It felt good. … I knew it had a good shot of going in.”
Florida took control early in the second overtime, scoring the first nine points. It became a runaway from there.
Fox said he thought the players were “fatigued” in the second overtime.
“We couldn’t respond. We didn’t have one more response in us,” Fox said.
Georgia (14-5 overall, 3-3 in the SEC) has now dropped two of its past three home games, after starting the season with seven straight wins at Stegeman.
Florida (16-4, 5-1) cemented its hold on first place in the competitive SEC East.
During his postgame news conference, a reporter started to point out that the Bulldogs had endured two tough losses in the homestand.
“And one that still makes me angry,” Fox interrupted.
He was likely referring to the 59-57 loss to Tennessee, which led Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity to discuss a couple non-calls with the SEC office.
Now the Bulldogs have to react by making the toughest road trip of the year: At Rupp Arena to take on No. 14 Kentucky.
“I’m proud of our team, I’m proud of our fans,” Fox said. “But we’ve got to win the heartbreaker. It was a big game too. I don’t think it was too big a game for us, but it was a big game, and we haven’t been in a lot of these situations.”
(c) 2011, The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Ga.).
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