- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
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How the game was won: Auburn (13-9, 3-5 SEC) built a 26-15 halftime lead as Georgia (10-11, 1-6) had a horrendous first half on offense. A double-digit halftime deficit was significant in a game with so little offense, but Georgia rallied to challenge late in the game. The Bulldogs were never able to overtake the Tigers, however, after their season-low 15 first-half points put them in such a difficult position.
Turning point: Despite their horrible first half, the Bulldogs trailed 51-49 following Gerald Robinson’s fast-break layup off a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope dish with 52 seconds to play. Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel responded by converting a three-point play off a Marcus Thornton foul with 38 seconds left, however, as the Tigers managed to hold on for the win.
Stat of the game: 4-23. Auburn didn’t score a field goal until nearly 10 minutes into the game, but Georgia was even worse from the floor in the first half. The Bulldogs hit only four of 23 shots (18 percent) before the break.
Player of the game: Varez Ward. The Auburn guard entered the game hitting only 60 percent of his foul shots, but made a huge impact from the line against Georgia. He consistently drove the lane to draw fouls and then converted his free throws. Ward finished 12-for-12 at the line to account for most of his game-high 17 points.
What it means: Georgia’s late-game struggles continue, having had a chance to win several times in SEC play only to blow opportunities in the closing minutes. This was an ugly performance overall by the Bulldogs, but they still had a chance to win in the final minute and could not. Auburn didn’t perform much better, but it continued its success on its new home floor. The Tigers are now 12-1 at home this season.
9hGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough