Georgia Bulldogs: Trevor Releford

ATHENS, Ga. -- Half-court buzzer-beaters, last-second jump shots, ill-timed and questionable whistles -- all of those elements have contributed to a series of last-minute losses for Georgia in the last two months.

“We keep it interesting,” said Bulldogs forward Nemanja Djurisic, whose team’s most recent loss came Saturday, when Alabama’s Trevor Releford drained a 60-footer at the buzzer to give the Crimson Tide a 61-58 victory.

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AP Photo/Vasha Hunt/Alabama Media GroupEven with Alabama's win over Georgia last weekend, the Bulldogs' average margin of loss in a 13-game stretch in SEC play is just 4.6 points.
But while Djurisic and the Bulldogs have lost more than their fair share of heartbreakers since late January, they have also proved something to themselves.

“We know we can compete with any team in the league if we play the way we can play to win,” Freshman All-SEC point guard Charles Mann said. “So that’s not really a big problem with us. It gave us a lot of confidence.”

This young Georgia team got off to an atrocious start, first by dropping seven of their first nine games of the season and then by starting SEC play with a 1-4 mark. And yet as the season progressed, SEC Player of the Year Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the way, freshmen like Mann, forward Brandon Morris and shooting guard Kenny Gaines began to settle in and the Bulldogs suddenly became competitive.

Entering Thursday’s SEC tournament opener against LSU (18-11, 9-9 SEC), Georgia (15-16, 9-9) has won eight of its last 13 conference games -- and every game the Bulldogs lost easily could have been a victory. Their widest margin of defeat in that 13-game stretch was a 10-point loss at Ole Miss, but that came in overtime after forward Donte Williams missed a tip-in that would have won the game at the end of regulation. Including that loss, Georgia’s average margin of defeat in those games is just 4.6 points.

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Game rewind: Alabama 74, Georgia 59

January, 7, 2012
Alabama got a big first half from freshman Trevor Lacey and withstood Georgia’s second-half rally to win the SEC opener for both teams, 74-59, on Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.

Georgia (9-6, 0-1 SEC) relied heavily on a zone defense to compensate for its size disadvantage, but that left Lacey open to hurt the Bulldogs from the perimeter. The freshman scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half -- including a 3-for-3 effort from 3-point range -- as the Crimson Tide (12-3, 1-0) opened up a 38-26 halftime lead.

With 9:18 to play in the second half, the Bulldogs went on an 11-4 run to cut Alabama’s lead to 52-48. But the veteran Crimson Tide responded, led by juniors Tony Mitchell and Andrew Steele, with a 14-4 surge of its own to pull away for the road win.

"[Lacey is] averaging, like, six a game, but we told our team he’s a guy that can jump up for 15, 16 points," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "So we talked about that this week, and he did that in the first half.

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Peach State: Top Tier Recruiting Ground?
California, Florida and Texas are largely considered the "Big Three" in college football recruiting. But national recruiting analyst Gerry Hamilton joins ESPN's Phil Murphy to explain why Georgia deserves to be in the top tier and has numbers to prove it.