Harrell scores 21 in Auburn's 69-68 win over Georgia
Feb. 14, 2015
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Only six players in the nation shoot 3-point field goals with a better degree of success that Auburn senior K.T. Harrell.
He was a little off his game Saturday, hitting just 2 of 6, but one of those came with less than a minute to play and helped rally Auburn for a 69-68 win over Georgia, though the Tigers had to watch a last-second shot by the Bulldogs' Nemanja Djurisic miss as time ran out.
Kenny Gaines hit a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds to go to get the Bulldogs within a point. Auburn needed only to get the ball in-bounds to win but threw it out of bounds on the other end of the floor. However, Djurisic's shot from the corner came up short.
Harrell finished with 21 points, and Auburn (12-13, 4-8 SEC) won for only the second time in its last eight games.
"It feels good, really good, obviously," Harrell said of the win. "We played a really good team, and we just came out and fought. Coach (Bruce Pearl) has been doing a good job of telling us never to quit, and we did that tonight."
"We left the best shooter in the league wide open," complained Georgia coach Mark Fox. "He gave us a jab step and we ran off and left him."
Gaines, Georgia's leading scorer with 18 points, accepted the blame.
"I overplayed the play," he said. "He read my defense, and he made a big shot."
Charles Mann added 14 for Georgia (16-8, 7-5).
Auburn got 17 points from K.C. Ross-Miller.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half. The Bulldogs missed five layups in the first four minutes as Auburn took an early 7-2 lead. Halfway through the first half, Georgia had made just 2 of 11 field goals.
Auburn's biggest lead came with 14:09 left in the half when Harrell hit a jumper from inside the paint to make it 12-4.
The Bulldogs would finally tie the score at 22-all with 3:01 to go when reserve Cameron Forte hit two free throws. When Georgia senior Taylor Echols, a former walk-on, hit a 3-pointer with 44 seconds in the half, the Bulldogs had a chance to lead at intermission.
But Auburn's Harrell hit a jumper as the buzzer sounded to make it 29-28 at the half.
In the second half, Georgia trailed 42-39 with 11:38 to play after Harrell scored from the baseline. But over the next 2½ minutes, the Bulldogs went on a 9-0 run, ignited by Gaines.
First, he hit a pair of free throws. On Georgia's next possession, he hit a put-back following three misses by his teammates. The capacity crowd of 10,523 came to its feet when he fielded an alley-oop pass from Marcus Thornton, turned 180 degrees and banked it in.
Forte punctuated the run with an interception at midcourt leading to a breakaway slam and follow-up free throw. That made it 48-42 with 9:05 to play.
Georgia's biggest lead came after a Thornton 3-point play with 5:17 to play made it 57-48.
"Georgia, what they run is so hard to guard that you really have to have a system for guarding it," Pearl said. "If you let them do what they want to do, they will kill you."
Fox said he was disappointed in his team's effort for the second straight game, including its win at Texas A&M earlier in the week.
"We got just exactly what we deserved," Fox said. "I was disappointed in our approach. I warned them yesterday. We've been smelling ourselves too much."
But Auburn chipped away. In the last three minutes, Harrell hit two 3-pointers, a layup and one free throw.
Auburn: K.T. Harrell needs 12 points to score 1,000 points at Auburn. Counting his points at Virginia before he transferred, he already has 1,000 points in his college career.
Georgia: Shooting 68 percent from the line as a team coming into the game, the Bulldogs hit 18 of 21 free throws Saturday.
Georgia and Auburn have played 180 times, and each has won 90. The football teams have each won 55 times in their storied rivalry.
Auburn: The Tigers are hosts to Alabama on Tuesday.
Georgia: The Bulldogs are hosts to South Carolina on Tuesday.