Mann, Georgia edge Auburn 64-61 for 20th victory
ATHENS, Ga. – Charles Mann scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half as Georgia overcame a 7-point deficit to defeat Auburn 64-61 in both teams’ regular-season finale.
The Bulldogs (20-10, 11-7) will now await the outcome of the remaining contests on this day to see when they will play next week at the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tenn.
The win gave Georgia the program’s second consecutive 20-victory season for the first time since 1997-98. It was also an historic road victory for the Bulldogs, who won their sixth SEC game on the road for the first time ever.
“I’m really proud of these kids, for the way they played their hearts out all season long,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “Today was another battle, another hard-fought game, and some more adversity. I thought Charles was outstanding today, as he has been all year. He showed a lot of poise in keeping us in the game and making clutch plays at the end.”
Georgia also played today without second-leading scorer and defensive stopper Kenny Gaines, who sprained his left foot in practice Thursday.
The Bulldogs struggled early, partly because of serious foul trouble. By the 8:32 mark of the first half, they had amassed 10 fouls, three by Yante Maten and two by Mann and Marcus Thornton, who ended up as the only Georgia player to foul out.
Auburn (12-19, 4-14) took an early lead behind the shooting of KT Harrell, who finished with 24 points in his final home game. His 3-pointer with 8:15 left in the first half gave the Tigers their largest lead of the half at 20-15.
Georgia, however, scrapped back into the lead using a makeshift lineup for the final minutes before halftime. A 3-pointer by J.J. Frazier with 26 seconds left pushed the Bulldogs into a 31-28 lead at intermission.
Harrell’s hot shooting again got Auburn the advantage during second-half play. Three-pointers on two straight possessions, the latter with 13:53 left, got the Tigers the biggest lead for either team at 46-39. A trey by KC Ross-Miller at the 11:34 mark matched the 7-point margin.
That’s when Mann took charge of Georgia’s comeback. On the ensuing trip, he converted a 3-point play on a drive to the basket. He followed an Auburn miss with another drive, this time getting fouled and sinking a pair of foul shots with 9:44 left, cutting the deficit to 52-50. After the teams traded empty trips, Mann connected twice again from the free-throw line, tying the score at 52 with 8:48 left.
From there, Georgia clung to a slim lead for much of the game’s remainder. A pair of Mann free throws with 1:32 left broke the sixth tie score of the game and put Georgia ahead 62-60.
Auburn missed three consecutive 3-point attempts in a possession inside the final minute. Cinmeon Bowers rebounded the third miss and was fouled by Marcus Thornton. He made just one of two foul shots with 5.8 seconds left. Frazier converted two free throws for Georgia with five ticks left to secure victory.
• On his 3-point play with 11:00 remaining, Charles Mann scored 1,000 points for his career. He became the 45th player in UGA history to reach the milestone.
• Georgia won its eighth road game (most since 1991) and its sixth SEC road game for the first time in UGA history.
Georgia made 19 of 21 free throws for 90.5 percent, its second-highest effort of the season.
• Georgia has won 20 games consecutively for just the second time in program history and first since a string of three straight in 1996-98.