Originally created 12/14/03

Dogs get lift from freshman



ATLANTA - The aesthetically pleasing developments could have been counted on one hand - maybe even one finger - in Saturday's game between Georgia and Clemson.

The Bulldogs and Tigers looked like two teams that spent a week in final exams, playing sloppily and combining for 32 turnovers.

None of that mattered to Georgia forward Steve Newman, a freshman who scored a career-high 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting. The Bulldogs needed every bit of the seldom-used player's production in a 61-56 win over the Tigers in the second game of the Peach Bowl Classic at Philips Arena.

"He stepped up big," senior point guard Rashad Wright said of Newman, a 6-foot-8, 230-pounder. "He came off the bench and gave us a lift. He scored, got some rebounds and made some crucial plays."

The most crucial came late in the game, with Georgia up 48-47. Damien Wilkins missed a shot, but Chris Daniels rebounded and saw Newman wide open at the top of the key.

As the shot clock struck zero, Newman drained the 3-pointer to put the Bulldogs up 51-47. The Bulldogs held the Tigers at arm's length during the last five minutes and improved to 5-2.

"That's a heartbreaker right there," Newman said of the shot. "That really destroys the other team's confidence."

The Tigers (3-3), who lost their third straight game, certainly looked like a team short on confidence afterward. Senior forward Chris Hobbs, held scoreless for the first time since his freshman season, painted a picture of a squad that is searching for its soul.

"The offense is not where it needs to be right now," said Hobbs, whose team committed 19 turnovers and shot 29 percent from the field in the second half. "Maybe we're a little more confused than we should be. ... I have no clue what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong."

Wilkins led the Bulldogs with 13 points, and Daniels had his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Down by two points at halftime, Georgia took control in the second half by solving Clemson's zone.

The Bulldogs also rebounded from Tuesday's demoralizing 80-60 home loss to Winthrop.

"We really wanted to work hard not to be bullied around by such a strong, physical rebounding team," said Georgia coach Dennis Felton, whose team outrebounded the Tigers 38-34 and outscored them 30-22 in the paint.

The Bulldogs limited frontcourt players Sharrod Ford, Olu Babalola, Steve Allen, Akin Akingbala and Hobbs to a combined 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting. Hobbs only attempted two shots.

"We couldn't come up with a big play," said first-year Clemson coach Oliver Purnell, whose team is in the midst of a five-games-in-10-days stretch. "We weren't mentally and physically tough enough to win."

Newman was tough enough in the first half, finding open spaces in Clemson's zone to score nine points.

"The middle of their zone is pretty wide open," Newman said. "You just drive or find the post man in the middle."

Babalola hit a 3-pointer from the right corner with 8:02 left to give Clemson a 47-46 lead, but the Tigers didn't manage their next field goal until an inconsequential basket by Shawan Robinson with one second left.

"Some of the leaders on the team have got to talk the guys up," said guard Chey Christie, who scored a game- and season-high 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting.

Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or larry.williams@augustachronicle.com.