DULUTH, Ga. (AP) -- Georgia's goal on Saturday, as voiced by
coach Dennis Felton in his pregame speech, was to "wake folks up"
about his team's potential.
Consider Gonzaga painfully awake.
Felton said his team seized the opportunity to "make a
statement" against a ranked team on national TV.
"This was a terrific win," Felton said. "We went in wanting
to take advantage of the situation because we had the opportunity
to make a national statement."
Gonzaga coach Mark Few said his team was simply overwhelmed.
"There was no doubt today that Georgia had a stronger
conviction to win the game," Few said. "They were hungrier. They
were tougher, beating us to every 50-50 ball. You win games that
Georgia (7-1) forced Gonzaga (9-3) into a season-high 21
turnovers, four more than its previous high in a win over North
Carolina on Nov. 22. Georgia, which turned the ball over only 11
times, outscored Gonzaga 30-11 in points off turnovers.
"Twenty-one turnovers. That's pathetic," Few said. "It's just
guys trying to do too much."
Georgia had 11 days to prepare for its first game this season
against a ranked opponent.
"This is the biggest win of my career," said Stukes, a senior.
"Just fighting every day and going through the ups and downs with
this team, this is the biggest win because we were playing against
a team that was nationally known and everybody thought we didn't
have a chance. We came out and showed the nation that Georgia is a
team to watch out for."
Gonzaga, which played so well in the win over then-No. 2 North
Carolina, had difficulty matching Georgia's emotion.
"The funny thing is this team plays better when we're the
underdog," Gonzaga forward Sean Mallon said. "We need to approach
every game the same way. We can play great or we can play awful."
Derek Raivio led Gonzaga with 19 points but saw his streak of
20-point games end at eight as he went 3-of-7 from 3-point range.
Jeremy Pargo added 17 points, 12 in the first half, and Josh
Heytvelt had 15 in the matchup of Bulldogs.
"Coach Few stresses every game we play, the NCAA Tournament
committee is going to look at it," Raivio said. "Georgia will be
a Top 25 team eventually. ... They played like they wanted it more
Georgia averaged 91 points per game through its first seven
games, and it didn't appear fazed by the step up in competition as
it led 50-45 at halftime and then scored the first 11 points of the
"Georgia is a good team," Few said. "They've got a lot of
offensive firepower. They're athletic. They execute. They get good
shots on the offensive end."
Added Few of Georgia: "They're an NCAA Tournament team. We knew
that coming in. We tried to prepare our guys for that."
Few was critical of the reluctance of Heytvelt, a 6-foot-11
forward, to establish an inside game. Heytvelt made three
3-pointers but spent too little time in the paint to satisfy Few.
"He has no conviction to get the ball inside," Few said of
Heytvelt. "We're never going to get where we need to be if all he
does is slide out to the 3-point line.
"We wanted to attack them inside. Josh took the easy road to
Georgia had a 34-28 advantage in rebounds and outscored Gonzaga
52-36 in the paint.
Gonzaga's last lead was 35-34 with less than 6 minutes left in
the first half.
Georgia, picked by media to finish last in the Southeastern
Conference's Eastern Division, won its sixth straight game.
Raivio, who had only seven points in the first half, hit two
3-pointers in a 17-6 run that cut Georgia's lead to 67-62.
In a matchup of freshman centers, Georgia's 6-10 Albert Jackson
scored consecutive inside baskets over Gonzaga's 7-4 Will Foster,
helping Georgia push the lead back to double figures at 80-69.
Foster quickly returned to the Gonzaga bench.
Each team shot over 60 percent from the field in the first half.
Gonzaga was 8-of-12 on 3s in the first half but still trailed 50-45
at halftime, thanks to 19 first-half points by the hot-shooting
Georgia scored the first 11 points of the second half, including
a basket by Brown, followed by a field goal by Mercer set up by his
steal of an inbounds pass. The play gave Georgia a 61-45 lead,
forcing Few to call a timeout.
Soon after the timeout, Gonzaga's first points of the second
half came on an inside basket by Mallon, who had 11 points, at the
The game, played at the Gwinnett Center near Atlanta, was
sponsored by Chick-fil-A.