ATHENS, Ga. --- Coming close but falling short has been the story for Georgia too often for its liking in Southeastern Conference games.
The Bulldogs made sure they wouldn't have to worry about that Saturday night by pulling away from No. 18 Vanderbilt down the stretch and grabbing a 72-58 upset win before 8,131 in Stegeman Coliseum.
Sophomore Travis Leslie scored seven consecutive Georgia points and Vincent Williams and Ricky McPhee hit back-to-back 3-pointers to provide needed cushion down the stretch to snap a three-game losing streak.
"It was a blessing because we all worked so hard the entire game and we wanted it, we wanted it really bad," said sophomore forward Trey Thompkins, who along with Leslie led the Bulldogs with 17 points. "We finally got one."
Georgia has taken its fans on quite an up-and-down ride this season.
Four of Georgia's SEC losses have come by a combined 12 points.
On the flip side, the Bulldogs grabbed their third win against a ranked opponent this season.
Georgia also dispatched No. 20 Georgia Tech and No. 8 Tennessee earlier this season.
All of the games have been in dated Stegeman Coliseum.
"Everyone said when I came we need a new place," first-year Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "Heck, no, we don't need a new place. We just need great fans like we had tonight and the right effort."
No other team in the SEC, except Kentucky, has more wins over ranked teams.
"It just proves on any given night, we can play with anybody in the country, and we feel like we can beat anybody in the country," Thompkins said.
Point guard Dustin Ware played 14 scoreless minutes in the first half after missing Friday's practice because of the flu.
Ware came alive with six points early in the second half and Georgia rallied from down 39-32 to pull ahead 42-41 with 12:41 to go. He finished with 10 points.
Williams, a freshman guard from Homestead, Fla, had career highs with seven points and four assists in 16 minutes, his most in an SEC game.
Fox knew he would have to rely more on Williams.
"He knew he was going to have a play a lot," Fox said. "Dustin was on the IV yesterday and I think today. We worked with some crazy lineups trying to think about rotations and how we could matchup. Vincent gave us some very significant minutes and some very good play."
Fox said the days leading up to the game he sensed his team was about as physically beat up and tired as it's looked this season. Fox cut down practices to only about 40 minutes to save energy.
"All season we've needed a win to keep us going," Fox said. "There was nothing expected of this group. We've made some successes along the way to keep this going."