ATHENS, Ga. – Brian Williams somehow managed to put back a buzzer-beater as he was falling down, giving Tennessee a 59-57 victory over Georgia on Tuesday night.
Playing without suspended coach Bruce Pearl, the Volunteers (12-6, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) pulled out a wild win after Tobias Harris launched an airball on a 3-pointer from the corner.
With overtime looming and the clock nearly at zero, Williams went up for the ball with Georgia's Chris Barnes, muscled it away and knocked down an improbable shot just ahead of the buzzer. The officials checked the replay to confirm that it was good, stunning the sellout crowd while Tennessee whooped it up on the way to the locker room.
Georgia (13-4, 2-2) lost at home for the first time this season, stumbling after a 22-point win at Mississippi last weekend.
Harris and Scotty Hopson led Tennessee with 15 points apiece, while Williams added 10. The win was especially sweet for the senior center, who was serving a nine-game suspension last season for a New Year's Day arrest when the Vols took a 15-point loss in Athens.
Travis Leslie and Gerald Robinson each scored 14 points to lead Georgia, which shot only 43 percent from the field and was held to its second-lowest scoring output of the season, just three days after its highest, a 98-76 rout of Ole Miss.
The game was tight all the way, the margin never more than seven points for either team. There were 11 lead changes and nine ties.
Tennessee played its fourth SEC game without Pearl, who is halfway through the league-imposed suspension he received for lying to NCAA investigators during an ongoing probe into recruiting. Associate head coach Tony Jones filled in while his boss watched the game on television back in Knoxville.
The suspension only applies to SEC games, so Pearl will be back on the bench for Saturday's contest at Connecticut. Then he'll sit out four more league games to complete his punishment.
His son, Tennessee backup Steven Pearl, was left to endure the wrath of the Georgia students when he entered the game. "Where's your daddy? Where's your daddy?" they chanted over and over.
Georgia had slipped out of The Associated Press rankings after a one-week stay, its first appearance in the poll since 2003. Now, the Bulldogs have lost two of three since upsetting Kentucky to open league play.
After a sluggish, turnover-plagued start, Georgia appeared set to pull away when Sherrard Brantley hit a 3-pointer that pushed the home team to a 28-21 lead.
But Skylar McBee responded with a 3 of his own, sparking a 14-2 run for the Volunteers. They were still up 35-33 at the break, despite getting called for an odd team technical with 19 seconds left, apparently for someone touching the ball in the cylinder. Tennessee protested, claiming a Bulldogs player actually got a finger on it, and there was a lengthy discussion among all three officials before Trey Thompkins was awarded two free throws.