March 10, 2012
NEW ORLEANS, La. - John Jenkins scored 15 points and Brad Tinsley added 12 as third-seeded Vanderbilt overcame a halftime deficit and blew past Georgia 63-41 in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals here Friday night.
Georgia (15-17) fought gamely for just over a half but succumbed to foul trouble and the Commodores' offensive onslaught in the second period. The Bulldogs finished with a season-low point total, perhaps influenced by a season-high 17 turnovers.
"We just dug ourselves too deep a hole early in the second half," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "Against a team as good and experienced as Vandy, that's a tough task to try and come back in a situation like that. Give them credit. They're a good basketball team."
Despite three starters in early foul trouble, and second-leading scorer Kentavious Caldwell-Pope without a basket, Georgia somehow seized a 25-24 lead at intermission. The Bulldogs got 17 first-half points from their bench, led by six unexpected points from freshman center John Cannon.
A bright spot amid the Bulldogs' defeat came from senior guard Dustin Ware, whose team-high 10 points pushed him past 1,000 for his career. He reached the magic number on his first field goal of the night, a straight-on 3-pointer from an assist by his senior teammate Gerald Robinson. Ware also handed out two assists, giving him an even 400 for his career and making him one of just six players in UGA history to achieve both milestones.
"It defintely feels good, but it would have been even better to finish out with a win," Ware said afterward.
Tinsley keyed the critical second-half run that proved to decide the outcome. On Vanderbilt's first possession, he drove to the basket, scored and was fouled by Marcus Thornton. His foul shot gave the Commodores a 27-25 lead that they never surrendered.
The Vandy lead reached double digits for the first time at 44-33 on a layup from reserve guard Kedren Johnson. It reached its largest at 59-37 on another Johnson bucket with 3:19 remaining.
Vanderbilt (22-10) will face upset winner Ole Miss in the second SEC Tournament semifinal matchup, following the Kentucky-Florida contest.