ATHENS -- While the Georgia basketball team is searching for something to play for, it has a clear-cut motive for wanting to beat Mississippi on Saturday.
On Jan. 9, the Bulldogs (14-12, 7-8 SEC) lost to the Rebels (18-10, 8-7) in classic heartbreaking fashion. With Georgia up 71-70, Ole Miss' Stefan Moody hit the game-winning shot with 3.8 seconds left.
It wasn't just that he made the shot; it was how he was able to hit it. With nine seconds left, Moody received a pass 5 feet from halfcourt with Kenny Gaines draped all over him. In an instant, Moody blew past Gaines and used a shoulder fake at the 3-point line to get J.J. Frazier in the air.
With both Georgia guards in Moody's dust, he stepped right around Kenny Paul Geno. Derek Ogbeide was the final hope for Georgia, but he was unable to stop Moody as Moody threw the ball in off the backboard amongst the outstretched arms of Ogbeide, Gaines and Geno while falling down.
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"It lights a fire under you," Ogbeide said. "You don't want to go through it again."
On Saturday, the freshman and his teammates have the opportunity to rectify some of their mistakes from the January matchup. The biggest one is something that has plagued Georgia all season: a lack of consistency.
In Georgia's 14 wins, it has only outscored its opponents in both halves five times, and in five of its losses, it was tied or led at the half.
"We just have to play two full halves and not just play 25 or 30 minutes and just have to finish the game," Charles Mann said.
In the first meeting with Ole Miss, Georgia led by nine at the half and by 13 early in the second half, but its offense became stagnant after that. In the final eight minutes of the game, Georgia scored only 11 points and went 2-for-11 from the field.
Georgia did itself no favors, either, at the foul line. In a game in which 48 fouls were called, five players had four fouls and Yante Maten fouled out, and Georgia couldn't capitalize on its trips to the free-throw line.
In the second half, the Bulldogs shot 50 percent from the line despite getting there 22 times.
"We have to get over that mountain," Gaines said. "We can't dwell on that, though. We just have to start knocking down our opportunities."
Trying to get over that mountain starts with defending Moody. Described as dynamic by Georgia head coach Mark Fox, Moody is the conference leader in points per game (23.0) and free throws made (185) and is second in 3-pointers made at 23.
"He is built like a football player," Fox said. "He's wide, and he's compact, and he is extremely explosive, and now he has a real knack to finish plays."