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Leslie, Bulldogs surprise No. 18 Vanderbilt, 72-58

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Vanderbilt's Brad Tinsley could see a big difference in Georgia's ballhandlers in the final 15 minutes.

The Bulldogs, pressured into constant turnovers most of the first 25 minutes, settled down and rallied to beat No. 18 Vanderbilt 72-58 Saturday night.

"I think they kind of figured out the press and figured out how to break it," Tinsley said. "In the first half, they were rushing, but they calmed down and started to run through it in the second half."

Georgia (10-11, 2-6) appeared bound for its fourth straight Southeastern Conference loss when it trailed early in the second half. But the Bulldogs recovered to shoot 53.2 percent for the game and end a three-game losing streak.

"This was the type of game that really makes you feel good about yourself," said Georgia first-year coach Mark Fox.

Georgia won for the first time since beating then-No. 8 Tennessee on Jan. 23.

Trey Thompkins also had 17 points as the Bulldogs gave Vanderbilt (17-5, 6-2) its second loss in its last 13 games.

"Even after we didn't start off the second half well, the defense improved and held us together," Fox said.

Jermaine Beal led Vanderbilt with 21 points. Tinsley added 18, but the Commodores found too little scoring support for the two guards.

"We didn't get a very good night from any of our big guys," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said.

Vanderbilt center A.J. Ogilvy had six points, ending a streak of scoring in double figures in 12 straight games. He led the Commodores with nine rebounds.

Beal and Tinsley made 9 of 13 shots from the field in the first half, but their teammates were 1 for 18. Vanderbilt made only 20 of 61 shots overall and matched its season low for points.

"We've been shooting around 50 percent and tonight it didn't seem like anyone could get one to drop," Stallings said. "Brad and Jermaine were really good, but no one else could get anything going."

Georgia turned the ball over 13 times in the first half and trailed 36-28 early in the second half before rallying behind Travis Leslie, who scored 13 of his 17 points after the break.

The more composed Georgia offense abused Vanderbilt's man defense to make 14 of 21 shots in the second half while committing only eight turnovers.

"Our defense was just deplorable the last 15 minutes of the game," Stallings said.

Added Tinsley: "We fell apart defensively."

Vanderbilt plays Tennessee on Tuesday night in Nashville, but Tinsley said the Commodores were not looking past Georgia to their in-state rival.

"I don't think we were looking ahead. I think this team does very well with that," Tinsley said. "We just have to get past this one."

Georgia led 68-54 following back-to-back 3-pointers by Vincent Williams and Ricky McPhee.

Georgia's defense prevented Vanderbilt from its first 4-1 start in SEC road games since the 1966-67 season.

"We pride ourselves on defense, and when we don't play defense the right way it bothers us," Thompkins said. "So tonight we came out and put extra emphasis on it. We were going to defend to the best of our ability, and we did so. We worked so hard the whole game and we finally got one."

Georgia finished with 21 turnovers, 13 in the first half.

The turnover problems were the continuation of a trend for the last-place team in the SEC East. The Bulldogs were worst in the league with 117 turnovers in their first seven SEC games.

Vanderbilt had big leads of 36-28 and 39-32 early in the second half before Georgia reclaimed the lead with a 10-2 run featuring 3-pointers from Dustin Ware and McPhee. Two free throws by Leslie with 12:01 remaining gave the Bulldogs a 42-41 lead.

Two more free throws by Leslie gave Georgia the lead for good at 44-43 with 10:49 remaining.

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