Georgia used a career-high 29 points from Charles Mann to overcome a 9-point second half deficit and defeat Vermont 63-56 in the first round of the NIT on Wednesday night. The Dawgs led by as many as 11 at the start of the second half, but Vermont put together a 21-2 stretch to erase Georgia’s lead and build one of their own. Georgia, largely thanks to Mann’s penetration, began to chop away at the lead inside of 9 minutes remaining and eventually pulled ahead for good inside of three minutes remaining.
As impressive as Mann’s second half offense was, his ballhandling was a part of the reason why Georgia found themselves in a hole. Mann committed 7 turnovers, and the team turned it over 22 times. When Georgia got a shot off they hit over 50%, but generally sloppy play kept the visitors close. Vermont was effective at guarding the perimeter, but many of Georgia’s turnovers were unforced.
While Mann carried the team down the stretch, Marcus Thornton did the work in the first half. Thornton ended up with a career high 16 points of his own. Mann and Thornton combined for an impressive 20-21 from the foul line, and free throws on both ends were a big part of the outcome. Georgia rebounded much better towards the end of the game and opened up a 31-18 edge on the boards.
General admission seating filled much of the lower bowl of Stegeman Coliseum, and the crowd of only about 4,000 made plenty of noise to help Georgia’s comeback.
The #2 seed Dawgs will face #3 seed Louisiana Tech on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. (ESPN). La. Tech had a close game themselves against Iona but pulled out a 89-88 win on their home court. The ticket policy will be the same as it was for Vermont: students get in free, and seating will be general admission. Tickets can be ordered online at georgiadogs.com or by calling 888-542-1231.