Georgia rallied from a five-point deficit in the final 21 seconds Tuesday -- tying the game on a Gerald Robinson layup with 3 seconds to play -- against visiting Winthrop before pulling away for a 92-86 overtime win at Stegeman Coliseum.
The Bulldogs (8-5) were playing their first game without injured leading rebounder Marcus Thornton, and Bulldogs coach Mark Fox said Thornton’s absence played a role in his team’s disjointed effort.
Fox’s club still played perhaps its best offensive game of the season, shooting 54 percent from the field, but the coach was displeased with Winthrop’s 76 points at the end of regulation -- six points more than any previous opponent had scored against the Bulldogs this season.
“I think Winthrop deserved to win the game. I thought they outplayed us,” Fox said. “We shot the highest percentage we’ve shot all year long, but we gave up the highest number of points for the entire year. I was not pleased at all with our defensive effort.”
Nonetheless, the Bulldogs overcame a last-minute deficit to claim their fourth consecutive victory.
“I think the one thing is we just knew we weren’t going to give up, we weren’t going to lay down," Georgia senior guard Dustin Ware said, "so if there was a chance and there was still time on the clock, we were going to fight.”
Ware scored six points in the final 34 seconds -- hitting three free throws after being fouled while shooting a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left. He then hit a 3-pointer that cut Winthrop’s lead to 75-74 with 11 seconds left in regulation.
The Bulldogs led by 13 early in the half, but senior Andre Jones shot Winthrop into a lead it held until the final seconds of regulation. Jones scored 15 of his career-high 33 points in the second half -- including back-to-back 3-pointers and a long jumper that pushed Winthrop (4-9) from a 62-61 deficit to a 66-62 lead with 1:36 to play.
Much of that offensive production came against Robinson, one of Georgia’s best perimeter defenders.
“Gerald Robinson, for instance, who’s been a terrific defender, he was lit up like a Christmas tree at times,” Fox said. “I love Gerald. He’s a great defender. I trust him on most guys. Tonight wasn’t his night. We need to get better. Give [Jones] credit for making baskets. He’s a terrific player. He might be the best guard we’ve seen, and we’ve played some good teams.”
It also became a career night for two Georgia players.
Robinson scored 11 of his team-high 22 points in the final 42 seconds of regulation plus overtime. The 22 points matched Robinson’s career high -- set last season against Ole Miss -- and marked the third time in the last five games that he scored at least 20 points. He added five rebounds and four assists.
Freshman forward Nemanja Djurisic set career highs for points (17), rebounds (nine), minutes (34) and assists (three). He went 3-for-3 from 3-point range and finished 7-for-8 from the floor.
“I was a little bit frustrated with my shooting lately,” Djurisic said. “I just wanted to come out and play hard, and to be honest, I was shooting extra the last couple games and I wanted to start getting back into my 3-point game, and that’s what happened.”
Ware and freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope -- who scored 15 and 12 points after halftime, respectively -- both threatened career scoring highs, as well. Ware’s 20 points came within two points of his career high, while Caldwell-Pope’s 18 fell just short of his high of 21.