One of my favorite basketball memories from my days at Georgia was the 2002 game against the Florida Gators in Gainesville. Florida came into the game ranked #2 in the nation and was a 16.5 point favorite. Georgia was enjoying a fine season at 14-3, that included a victory over then #8 Kentucky just the week before. But coming off a loss at home to #16 Alabama, few expected the Dawgs to steal a victory from the Gators at home.
Georgia was Jarvis Hayes and Ezra Williams, who would combine to score 42 points in the game. I remember the balance of that Georgia team, with Rashad Wright running the point and the Hayes brothers up front. For Florida, I remember the combination of Matt Bonner and Udonis Haslem leading the Gators to a 39-36 lead at half. But the Dawgs were able to come back and take the lead into the waning minutes of the game. Coach Herrick sent a reserve guard who had recently joined the basketball team after the end of the football season.
That player was Georgia wide receiver Fred Gibson. Gibson had originally committed to play football for Steve Spurrier at Florida, but switched his commitment to Georgia during the week before national signing day. After having an amazing freshman season on the football field, the Florida fans were ready to taunt Gibson, a player they felt had screwed them over. Gibson got the ball on three consecutive possessions with the Gators just outside of striking distance. Each time he was fouled and sent to the line. I kept wondering why we were leaving a football player out on the court who had little experience in such a crucial situation.
Gibson answered the call. He nailed all 6 of his free throws, helping secure the 84-79 victory. Gibson returned to Athens as probably the most popular player on the team. Gibson would only play one season at Georgia, but that one day in Gainesville will forever hold his place in Georgia basketball history.
Let's go beat them Gators tonight!!! GO DAWGS!!!