Georgia guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (1) is fouled by Georgia Tech's Glen Rice Jr. (41) before crashing to the floor during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Georgia Tech, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011, in Athens, Ga. Georgia Tech won 68-56. (AP Photo/The Athens Banner-Herald, Richard Hamm) MAGS OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; NO SALES; TV OUT
ATHENS -- A drought that lasted just over six minutes in the 188th basketball meeting between Georgia Tech and Georgia played a major role in ending another one that had lasted 35 years.
A dry spell that saw the host Bulldogs go scoreless over a 6:06 span in the second half, combined with a Tech surge led by Jason Morris -- who scored all of his game-high 15 points in the final 20 minutes -- helped the Yellow Jackets break a 12-game, 35-year losing streak at Stegeman Coliseum with a 68-56 victory Wednesday night.
A crowd of 7,620 saw Tech (5-4) post its first win on Georgia's (4-5) home court since 1976, and made the visiting team a winner in a series that had been dominated mainly by the hosts since returning to campus sites in 1995.
"I was 10 years old when that happened," noted Brian Gregory, whose team won in his first time out against its bitter in-state rival as the Jackets' head coach. "I told our guys that on Monday. Now there were some games in between we didn't play down here (but at the Omni in Atlanta). I didn't tell them that.
"I just wanted our guys to understand that one of the things that is unique and special about Georgia Tech is the great tradition we have. ... There's a lot of great players that have worn that uniform and never won down here."
Morris led this group of players wearing the Tech uniform to finally win on the Stegeman Coliseum court by hitting 4 of 5 shots from the floor-- including 2 of 3 from 3-point range -- in the second half as the Jackets rallied from as much as a seven-point deficit in the first half and a four-point disadvantage at halftime .
But he was hardly alone, as four other teammates posted double-figure scoring, with Brandon Reed, Kammeon Holsey and Glen Rice Jr. each scoring 12 points and Daniel Miller adding 10 points and game highs of nine rebounds and four blocked shots.
"When wwe took the blow in the first half, we didn't come together as a team and it seemed very individual," Morris said. "But in the second half, ... I felt like we fought back as a team and no one person tried to take over the game."
Georgia's Gerald Robinson threatened to take over the game by scoring 16 of his game-high 20 points in the first half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Vincent Williams were the only other two Bulldogs in double figures with 10 points each.
But down 28-21 following a Robinson free throw with 2:24 left in the half, senior 6-5 junior Rice scored on a jumper and stickback slam to keep Tech within arm's length, with the Bulldogs' lead just 29-25 at intermission.
And the Jackets really turned up the defensive heat in the second half after Georgia took its last lead of the game at 33-31 following two Robinson free throws with 16:31 to play.
With the 6-foot-11 Miller and 6-8 Holsey clogging the lane, the Bulldogs were forced to the perimeter, where they proceeded to miss five straight shots and commit three turnovers over the next 6:06 before Dustin Ware finally found the range with a 3-pointer with 10:25 left.
"Our interior play is very poor right now," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "We're not getting any interior scoring, and so we're settling for outside shots, and that is an issue with our team right now.
"We're not a very good basketball team right now, and that's my responsibility. Our defense collapsed on us in the second half, but you have to give Georgia Tech credit. Their defense in the second half was better than our offense."
And in the interim, Reed had five points to lead a 10-0 run to put Tech in front by double digits at 46-36 before Morris really began to heat up, with a little help from Rice, who was forced into an unfamiliar role at point guard when starter Mfon Udofia went to the bench with his third foul with 16:31 remaining.
Rice and Reed were able to penetrate Georgia's zone defense to set up open looks for Morris, who knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and two more deep 2-point jumpers to lead a 12-5 Tech run over the next 3:45 to push the Tech lead to double digits for good at 55-41 with 6:40 to play.
"Glen's a bigger guard and he takes up much more space," Morris said of Rice, who finished with a game-high three assists. "That was giving us wide-open shots, and we knocked down shots, as well. So, they had to help on Glen, or else he was getting easy baskets."