KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Georgia couldn't keep Tennessee's Ron Slay far enough away from the basket.
When the 6-foot-8 forward couldn't score inside because of the
(No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) Bulldogs' zone defense, he popped out and hit 3-pointers from the top of the key. Slay finished with 33 points, and Thaydeus Holden made six free
throws down the stretch as the Volunteers beat Georgia 78-72
Saturday, earning their first victory over a ranked team in five
tries this season. "Ron Slay had two shots from 28 feet. I really didn't expect
Slay to be 4-for-5 from the 3-point arc,'' Georgia coach Jim
Harrick said. "He was incredible today.'' Despite Slay's shooting, the Vols still managed to make it a
close game. They broke a tie and took the lead for good after Slay
made the first of two free throws with 2:04 left. But Tennessee's lead wasn't comfortable until the final seconds.
The Vols (13-6, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) had lost three of the
previous five games against Georgia (13-6, 5-3) in overtime or at
the buzzer, including last month's meeting in Athens. "Is it surprising we won the game? When you have a stouthearted
team like this, you can't say it is a surprise,'' Tennessee coach
Buzz Peterson said. "In a way, we got over a big hump today, in
that we beat a ranked team. That is very satisfying.'' On Saturday, the officiating crew had to cover extra ground
late. Referee Bernard Clinton was injured with nine minutes left
and limped off the court, meaning Tony Greene and Ed Corbett had to
call the game by themselves the rest of the way.
Holden finished with 15 points, and Brandon Crump had 16. Slay was 12-of-18 from the floor. "I was getting a lot of open looks I usually don't get,'' Slay
said. "I was ready to knock it down every time it came to me.'' Georgia was led by Jarvis Hayes with 19 points, while Chris
Daniels added 14 points and 12 rebounds. Reserve Damien Wilkins
scored 11. The Vols led by four at halftime, but Georgia went ahead 44-43
with 14:12 left on Ezra Williams' jumper. Slay hit a 3 and then had
a slam to keep the Bulldogs from getting too far ahead. Georgia was able to push the lead to six points after Wilkins'
driving shot with 8:01 remaining. Tennessee tied it at 63 with
three straight baskets. After Jonas Hayes scored inside for Georgia with 5:10 to go,
Holden hit a 3, and Tennessee never trailed again. Georgia had been outrebounded in conference games by an average
of 3.6 a game while Tennessee averaged an advantage of 3.4. But the
Bulldogs outrebounded the Vols 35-24 and tenaciously guarded the
basket whenever Slay got the ball inside. But Slay still kept scoring. He had seven straight points as
Tennessee erased a four-point deficit and went ahead 17-16 with 11
minutes left in the first half.