Georgia vs. Wofford
When: 2 p.m., Dec. 20
Where: Stegman Coliseum, Athens
TV, radio: CSS (Charter channel 36); 550-AM
Web site: www.georgiadogs.com
ATHENS — Albert Jackson ignored the pain in his ankle long enough to give Georgia’s frontcourt a commanding presence under the basket.
"They had been containing me all game," he said, "but I knew that I was big enough and strong enough and athletic enough, and it went in for me."
Jackson scored the game-winning basket with 28.3 seconds remaining and grabbed a critical rebound with 0.5 left to help Georgia beat Virginia Tech 67-66 on Tuesday night.
Georgia (6-3) recovered from its worst defeat in four years, a 76-42 setback to Illinois Saturday in Chicago, by holding Virginia Tech scoreless after Cheick Diakite’s two free throws gave the Hokies their final lead with 57.1 seconds remaining.
"Albert has been coming back the last several games," Bulldogs coach Dennis Felton said regarding the ankle injury Jackson suffered Nov. 18. "He is getting healthy, and his ankle is doing better and better each day."
A.D. Vassallo scored 23 points to lead Virginia Tech (5-4), which has dropped two of three and four of six games. Malcolm Delaney finished with 11 points.
The Hokies were accustomed to close outcomes after playing seven games that were decided by an average of 4.7 points this season.
"This is the fourth really close loss that we’ve had," Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said after watching his team fail to score a field goal in the final 3:42. "We are so close to finishing these games. You can look at one play in a game that can make a difference in these type of games."
Corey Butler and Chris Barnes each scored 11 points for the Bulldogs, who made just 10 of 21 free throws.
Jackson was underneath the basket when he muscled in the game-winner over Diakite, but the 6-foot-11, 265-pound junior Bulldog never thought the shot would be his.
"I was mad at Corey Butler for a second there because he didn’t take the shot and he was wide open," Jackson said. "So when he didn’t take the shot, I just stepped in front of my man."
Greenberg called a timeout with 11 seconds remaining to draw up what he hoped would be a game-winning play. Instead, point guard Hank Thorns dribbled hard into the lane in hopes of either drawing a foul or passing the ball to a big man underneath.
Thorns’ options closed quickly, though, and he could only shoot a wild runner that Jeff Allen rebounded for the Hokies. After Allen missed both putbacks, Jackson grabbed the second rebound.
When Allen essentially tackled him with 0.5 remaining, Jackson knew the Bulldogs had won the game even though he missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Allen’s reaction was unquestionably aggressive, but Jackson wasn’t upset because the two played against each other at rival Virginia prep schools and became friends three years ago.
"I was just laughing because I know Jeff," Jackson said. "I wasn’t mad at all."
Georgia’s embarrassing effort against Illinois could be an unexpected benefit if the Bulldogs continue to hustle as hard as they did Tuesday. Not only did Virginia Tech shoot just 32 percent from the field (8 of 25) in the second half, Georgia starting guards Zac Swansey and Butler also combined for five assists, four steals and just two turnovers.
"We did execute very well," Felton said. "We didn’t turn the ball over, and we got the shots that were critical to our success."