ATHENS - The 3-pointer that Ricky McPhee sank in the closing seconds against Tennessee was a reminder of just how good a shooter the former Parkview standout remains.
That the shot came with Georgia having already let a potential upset slip away Saturday against the Vols also revealed how limited an opportunity McPhee has had to show off that stroke recently, however.
The junior transfer from Gardner-Webb has had his moments in his first season with Georgia. There have really been just a couple of them, though.
The biggest was against Wofford on Dec. 20, when McPhee helped save Georgia from an upset loss by hitting four of his seven shots, including two 3-pointers, and scoring 11 points in the overtime escape.
McPhee played 21 minutes in that game, but he has played more than four minutes in only four others. He has just 27 points in 10 games he's played, with 10 coming in the opener against USC Upstate.
Still, McPhee has no regrets about leaving Gardner-Webb and transferring to Georgia. He's back in his home state and playing in the SEC for a team he rooted for growing up.
"I've never second-guessed myself at all," McPhee said. "Just being a part of the team at a big
program like this is exciting to me. I'm not unhappy at all. I always wanted to play at a big school."
McPhee almost helped beat North Carolina - one of college basketball's biggest names - in his first game for Gardner-Webb, scoring 21 points in an 83-80 near upset of the Tar Heels. The 6-foot-1 guard hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with 11 seconds remaining, but North Carolina avoided overtime on a 3-pointer of its own at the buzzer.
McPhee also got off to a fast start in his sophomore season, scoring 22 points against Texas Tech. But he decided to transfer after averaging 8.6 points that season, including a 12-point game against Georgia, and was welcomed by the Bulldogs as a walk-on.
McPhee had to just watch as Georgia pulled of its miracle to win for the SEC Tournament championship last season. Sitting out as a redshirt was hard, McPhee said. But getting to play just a little this season really isn't.
"Every chance I get is an opportunity to show what I can do and I try to make the most of it," McPhee said. "But I know what the situation is. I just try to help the team any way I can. When we need a shooter, I'm ready."
All but two of McPhee's baskets this season have come from behind the 3-point arc, where he is 6-for-17. That is subpar for a shooter like McPhee, but he has shown his touch by going 5-for-7 at the foul line.
An all-academic choice in the Atlantic Sun Conference twice at Gardner-Webb, McPhee is majoring in sociology and is a senior in the classroom.
"It was an adjustment going from a small school to a big school," McPhee said. "But I'm getting used to it.
"I could have graduated this year by loading up my classes, but I decided to space it out. I have that extra year to play, so I want to take advantage of it."
Georgia, which plays at Vanderbilt on Wednesday in its second SEC game, looks like a longshot to make it back to the NCAA Tournament. But then no one predicted the Bulldogs' SEC Tournament run last year.
McPhee got to experience that from the bench in street clothes. This season, he is at least in a uniform and is always ready if called on.
"I'll always remember getting 21 against North Carolina in my first game for Gardner-Webb," McPhee said. "That was a great experience.
"But just playing for Georgia and getting to experience the atmosphere in the SEC every game is awesome. It's a dream come true for me."
SideBar: The McPhee File
Who: Ricky McPhee
High school: Parkview
Size: 6-foot-1, 184 pounds
Year: Transfer junior
Top basketball moment: Scored 21 points for Gardner-Webb in his first game as a freshman in near upset of North Carolina
College career high: 22 points as a sophomore for Gardner-Webb against Texas Tech
High school high: 38 points as a senior for Parkview against Central Gwinnett