Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann walked off the court with an arm wrapped around one another. Gaines held the Georgia flag in his left hand as the two smiled and laughed and walked down the Stegeman Coliseum tunnel for the final time in their regular-season Georgia careers as the Bulldogs defeated Alabama 70-63.
As the final Saturday in the college basketball came and went, seniors across the country were honored for their service to their schools.
Georgia was no different, as Saturday — at least for the pregame — centered on Gaines and Mann. Before the game began, Gaines and Mann were led out on the floor by their parents to standing thunderous applause from the Georgia fans.
“I told him, 'Let’s do this. Let’s go out with a bang.' ” Gaines said.
Since arriving on campus in 2012, they have a combined 247 games played, 190 starts and have logged a total of 6,496 minutes played. Together they have started together 85 of Georgia’s 95 games since their sophomore year.
“This is home, and I am going to miss this place,” Mann said.
Gaines and Mann became the newest members to the Georgia 1,000-point club. Mann who is the 45th member of the group reached that mark last season against Auburn, and Gaines followed suit this year against Clemson. Gaines climbed to No. 20 this season and has scored 1,268 points. During the course of this season Mann became the program's 18th leading scorer with 1,345.
Known as Georgia’s perimeter threat, Gaines is in the top-five for Georgia history for 3-point shots made with 205. Mann made his living at the free-throw line, ranking first in Georgia history in free throws made and free throws attempted with 596 and 855, respectively.
They are also two of the winningest players in Georgia history. On Thursday, behind Gaines’ 20 points and a huge steal from Mann in the waning minutes, Georgia claimed its fourth straight season of posting an SEC record of .500 or better. It is the first time in the 84-year history of Georgia basketball that has happened, and Gaines and Mann were part of every win.
“When Charles and I came here, we said we wanted to revitalized the program,” Gaines said. “We stuck to what we wanted to do and did it effectively.”
“We did everything we wanted to do,” Mann said. “We are passing the torch, and hopefully the new guys and the guys in the locker room will take this program to another level.”
Sticking in the SEC, Gaines and Mann have set the two-year, three-year and four-year program record for wins at 24, 33 and 42, respectively. The two helped Georgia to 53 wins at Stegeman Coliseum, which is the winningest four-year stretch in Georgia history, topping the 50 wins it had through the 2010-11 and 2014-15 season.
Both will graduate with a degree in housing, but both are looking to play in the NBA, Saturday marked a bittersweet moment, despite the win. Mann said he has had the best four years of his life at Georgia and is going to miss his teammates.
“Just being with the fellas, they are my family, and I am going to miss them a lot, Mann said.