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SEC championship

Georgia completes marathon run to SEC crown

ATLANTA — Cinderella has an invitation to the Big Dance and will be wearing Red and Black.

No. 6 seed Georgia upset Arkansas 66-57 Sunday afternoon to win the SEC tournament at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on the Georgia Tech campus. It was the first SEC Tournament title for the Bulldogs since 1983 — the year they went to the Final Four.

Georgia (17-16) earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, is seeded No. 14, and plays No. 3 Xavier on Thursday in Washington, D.C., in the West Region.

"What happened this weekend was history," Georgia athletic director Damon Evans said. "You may never see this again."

Georgia is only the third team in the tournament's history to win the title by winning four games, joining Arkansas (2000) and Auburn (1985). The Bulldogs are the first sixth seed to win the tournament since the league expanded to 12 teams in 1992. They did so by defeating top-seeded Tennessee, No. 2 East seed Kentucky and No. 1 West seed Mississippi State. And they did so in dramatic fashion. The team that won just four SEC games in the regular season won four games in three days. Those wins included two Saturday after Georgia was forced to play a quarterfinal and a semi­final when the schedule was disrupted because of damage to the Georgia Dome by a tornado Friday night.

"It's amazing just to have a championship," said Georgia senior Sundiata Gaines, who was the tournament MVP. "Coming in, everybody doubted us. To win two games in one day, then today we win and have a chance to go dancing, I can hardly believe it."

Trailing 51-36, Arkansas (22-11) went on a 17-5 run to pull within 56-53, but it was as close as it would get.

"We just could not play well enough against them to challenge for a victory," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said.

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com.

Georgia 66

Arkansas 57

Georgia completes marathon run to SEC crown 03/16/08 [Last modified: Sunday, March 16, 2008 10:57pm]

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