After LSU opened up a 20-point lead in short order, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope single-handedly shot Georgia back into the game, but the Tigers ended up with the 68-63 victory Thursday in the SEC Tournament second round.
Caldwell-Pope had 25 points in the second half, cutting a 21-point lead to two points with less than two minutes to go. But a three by Andre Stringer with 35 seconds left extended the Tigers' lead to five, and the Dawgs' comeback fell just short.
The early difference was shooting from beyond the arc. Georgia missed its first seven attempts from three, while LSU made five of its first seven, giving the Tigers an early 21-9 lead. It would get worse for Georgia, as LSU scored 12 straight to go up 37-15 with the first half winding down. The Tigers entered halftime up 20, needing just to coast to earn a trip to the SEC quarterfinals.
But Caldwell-Pope wouldn't go quietly. He had 14 of the Bulldogs' first 16 points to open the second half, including three threes. The sophomore's hot hand cut the Tigers' lead down to 63-61, but the lead proved to be insurmountable, despite his outstanding effort in the final half. Caldwell-Pope missed a 26-footer to tie the game with less than ten seconds to go, and two LSU free throws sealed the game.
Caldwell-Pope was in a zone, drilling six threes and finishing with 32 points and 13 boards. Although the 6'5 sophomore is the Georgia's leading scorer with 18.0 points per game, he hadn't scored more than 27 in any game this year.
Coleman hit his first four threes and finished 9-of-11 from the floor, totaling 24 points, while Stringer added four threes, but the rest of the Tigers were just 1-of-9 from beyond the arc.
Surviving the onslaught to make it it to the SEC quarters is good news for the Tigers, but their next opponent isn't: LSU will play No. 1-seed Florida Friday afternoon.