Originally created 02/10/02

Georgia loses cool, first place

AUBURN, Ala. - There were punches, pushes, screaming and whistles aplenty.

And some basketball, too.

Marquis Daniels made five free throws late, including two with 3.5 seconds left, as Auburn upset No. 17 Georgia 75-72 Saturday after a heated final two minutes in which two players and Georgia coach Jim Harrick were ejected.

Harrick was still steamed with the officials after his team's Southeastern Conference title hopes took a blow. Georgia, which plays host to Florida on Tuesday night, now trails the Gators by a half game in the SEC East.

"With 46 seconds to go and the magnitude of the game, you just don't kick a guy out," he said. "You manage the game. If they get mad and I get mad, then the game is exactly as it turned out."

It turned out badly for Georgia (18-6, 7-4 SEC) as Auburn (11-12, 2-8) snapped a six-game losing streak, its longest in eight years.

With 2:01 left, Kyle Davis of Auburn and Georgia's Steve Thomas were ejected for fighting in front of the Auburn bench after Adam Harrington's 3-pointer had brought the Tigers into a tie at 60.

The melee started after Thomas hit Davis with an elbow under the basket, and the Auburn center responded with a punch to the head. Thomas appeared to also take a swing and chased Davis toward the Auburn bench, where several players scuffled and two referees fell to the floor.

The SEC suspended both players for one game for flagrant fighting.

"From my standpoint, I saw Davis hit him," Harrick said, referring to Thomas. "Thomas tells me he did not hit Davis. He was chasing him but didn't hit him. I saw Davis swing at him and hit him right in the mouth."

Auburn coach Cliff Ellis watched a tape of the incident after the game, but wouldn't say if he thought Davis threw a punch.

"I thought it was unfortunate what happened down the stretch, but I will just let the video express itself and take it from there," said Ellis, praising his team for not leaving the bench area.

"It all just started with an aggressive box-out with two kids who really wanted to win. When the first exchange took place, it wasn't a fight. None of the fighting began until the red jerseys got mixed in our bench."

Davis and Thomas were not made available for interviews after the game, which was attended by SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer.

After play resumed, Derrick Bird hit a runner in the lane to give Auburn a 62-60 lead with 53 seconds left. Tempers flared again on the ensuing possession when Georgia's Chris Daniels was whistled for a foul away from the ball after knocking Brandon Robinson to the floor.

Harrick erupted, and received a technical. He stalked referee Olandis Poole across midcourt before getting ejected by Tim Higgins.

"We got three off-the-ball fouls on our end of the floor when we had the ball, and fouls were 19 to six (Auburn) in the second half," Harrick said. "It seemed like we got called for something almost every possession."


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