Dogs' story is one for the ages

No one could blame the Georgia coach for being speechless about his team's improbable, inspiring, unprecedented run through the Southeastern Conference's tornado tournament.

Actually, though, Felton's silent treatment wasn't by choice. After prodding and cajoling the Bulldogs to heights no one could have imagined just four days earlier, he finally gave out.

"He has no voice, not even a little growl," assistant Pete Herrmann said.

Georgia (17-16) is heading to the NCAAs for the first time since 2002, a seemingly lost season turned upside down when the Bulldogs won the SEC Tournament and an automatic bid.

To call it a miracle might be a bit of a stretch. Or an understatement.

"Their story is the kind of thing you talk about when you go out to give motivational speeches, when you have a mountain to climb and don't think you can climb it," Florida coach Billy Donovan said.

After winning only four SEC games during the regular season, the Bulldogs matched that total during four thrilling, frightening, frustrating and ultimately glorious days in Atlanta.

The story will be told for years to come:

A last-place team and a coach fighting for his job win their first game on a shot that drops with less than a second to go in overtime. Then, while waiting to play the following night, a tornado rips through the Georgia Dome on its destructive march through downtown Atlanta. The game is postponed, and the tournament is hastily moved to a much-smaller coliseum at nearby Georgia Tech -- the Bulldogs' bitter in-state rival.

From there, it only gets better. The SEC draws up a new schedule that has Georgia playing a doubleheader Saturday. Georgia beats Kentucky for the first time ever in the conference tournament, again going to OT. The Bulldogs sneak in a nap, then return six hours later to knock off Mississippi State, which won the SEC West.

The Bulldogs then race out to an early 19-point lead against NCAA-bound Arkansas and hold on to win their first conference tourney since 1983.

The run was especially meaningful to Georgia's two seniors, Sundiata Gaines and Dave Bliss. Both were there at the beginning of a massive rebuilding job, and it looked as though their gritty careers would end without even a sniff of the NCAA Tournament. No wonder they looked so happy during the celebration.

THURSDAY'S GAMES

All broadcast on CBS-Ch. 12:

- Georgia vs. Xavier, 12:20 p.m.

- Kentucky vs. Marquette, 2:30 p.m.

- Belmont vs. Duke, 7:10 p.m.

- George Mason vs. Notre Dame, 9:40 p.m.

More

UGA defensive improvement overshadowed by offensive struggles

ATHENS, Ga. — In the latter stages of Saturday's 24-10 loss to Florida in Jacksonville, Kirby Smart didn't see any quit in a Georgia defense that... Read more

Georgia quarterback Eason feels the heat from Florida defense

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Beating Florida isn't an easy chore for a true freshman quarterback.

Just ask Matthew Stafford, Quincy Carter, Eric... Read more