Georgia's Dustin Ware, right, and Tennessee's Melvin Goins (2) battle for the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011 in Knoxville, Tenn. Georgia won 69-63. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
KNOXVILLE — Jeremy Price scored 20 points as Georgia beat Tennessee 69-63 on Saturday for its first win in Knoxville in 10 seasons.
After Georgia (18-8, 7-5 Southeastern Conference) led by 15 points in the first half, the Volunteers cut the margin to 63-61 with 42 seconds left after Scotty Hopson rebounded a missed free throw by Dustin Ware, drove to the 3-point line before hesitating and then drove all the way to the basket for an uncontested dunk.
Ware would be fouled twice more in the remaining time, and he hit all four of his free throws to seal the win. Price finished off the game with an icing dunk with 14 seconds left.
Tobias Harris hit one more banking layup for the Vols (16-11, 6-6) in between Ware’s trips to the line, but it was their last basket as Hopson, who led the team with a career-high 32 points, later missed a 3.
Travis Leslie scored 15 points for Georgia, Ware finished with 12 and Trey Thompkins added 11.
The teams entered the game in a three-way tie with Kentucky in a heated SEC East Division race, and both looking for quality wins to impress the NCAA tournament selection committee.
The Bulldogs, who had played well on the road all year, were also looking to end their decade of futility at Thompson-Boling Arena and avenge a Jan. 18 loss to the Vols, when Brian Williams put back a missed buzzer-beating shot as he was falling down to give Tennessee the 59-57 win.
Georgia had blown double-digit leads in its last two games. The Bulldogs beat South Carolina after nearly blowing all of a 23-point second-half lead but lost to Vanderbilt after the Commodores erased their 14-point second-half lead.
Tennessee and Georgia traded the lead three times early in the game before the Bulldogs went on a 17-0 run to take control. A 3-pointer by Sherrard Brantley gave the Bulldogs a 22-7 lead with 10:20 left in the first half.
The Volunteers struggled against Georgia’s defense around the basket but also took a few bad shots and missed two would-be alley-oop shots. Gerald Robinson fouled Hopson as he drove to the basket and hit a layup, and Hopson hit the free throw to end Georgia’s run and provide some life for Tennessee.
The Bulldogs hit 51.9 percent (14 of 27) of their first-half shots while the Vols could only manage 28.1 percent shooting (9 of 32). Georgia was plagued, though, by eight turnovers, six of them unforced, and Tennessee trimmed its lead to 33-25 by halftime.
The Vols answered in the second half by hitting 57.1 percent (16 of 28) while the Bulldogs maintained their pace with 50 percent shooting (10 of 20). Harris added 18 points for Tennessee.