ATHENS — Trey Thompkins scored 20 points, Ricky McPhee hit two key baskets near the end and Georgia pulled off its first big win for new coach Mark Fox, knocking off No. 20 Georgia Tech 73-66 on Tuesday night.
Georgia, a team that had lost at home to Wofford and was coming off a 28-point blowout at Missouri last weekend, defeated a team with one of the most touted freshman classes in the country. It was a loss sure to turn up the heat on Yellow Jackets coach Paul Hewitt, who looked up at the scoreboard in disbelief as the Bulldogs (8-5) pulled away.
Georgia Tech (11-3) was trying to match its victory total from last season. Instead, the Yellow Jackets failed to break a long drought at Stegeman Coliseum, where they haven't won since Nov. 26, 1976.
With Georgia clinging to a 53-52 lead, Thompkins got loose inside, made the basket and was fouled by Gani Lawal. A free throw completed the three-point play. After Lawal missed at the other end, Georgia took off running, Thompkins drew a foul and made both free throws for a 58-52 lead with 1:51 remaining.
With Georgia Tech pressing all over the court, McPhee got loose on the wing and swished an open 3-pointer for a 61-54 lead with 1:23 remaining. He followed with another basket off a drive, banking it in high off the backboard for his only two-point hoop of the game. Twelve of his 16 points came on 3-pointers; he added two free throws in the final minute to help seal the win.
Lawal scored 21 points but the Yellow Jackets went 3 of 12 from beyond the arc and did a terrible job of running their offense, managing only eight assists while turning it over 20 times.
Georgia completed a football-basketball sweep of its state rival, following an upset win on the gridiron with an even more improbable win on the court. The Bulldogs are in a major rebuilding mode under Fox, who took over after Dennis Felton was fired midway through last season and the team finished with an interim coach.
"Just like football!" the Georgia crowd chanted at the end.
Showing that talent isn't everything, McPhee, a former walk-on, scored twice as many points as Georgia Tech freshman Derrick Favors, one of the country's top high school recruits who was held to eight points.
Georgia showed right away it could hang with the favored Yellow Jackets, ripping off a 10-1 spurt that included a dunk by Thompkins and two straight baskets by Travis Leslie. Trailing 16-8, Georgia Tech was forced to call an early timeout just to slow the Bulldogs.
Taking advantage of their superior talent, the Yellow Jackets pulled ahead 26-25 on Zachery Peacock's follow of a miss by Iman Shumpert. But Georgia scored the final six points of the half for a 31-26 lead, the Yellow Jackets' offensive ineptitude showing on the last possession.
With plenty of time to set up a play, Georgia Tech couldn't even manage to get off shot.
At the start of the second half, the Yellow Jackets again looked to have the upper hand when a turnover and fast break led to Favors' dunk and a 36-33 lead. But Georgia didn't wilt, answering right back with Dustin Ware's 3-pointer.