The Commodores (12-15, 6-9 Southeastern Conference) now have won three of their last four, trying to climb up from the league’s bottom four teams and avoid playing on the opening night of the SEC tournament in two weeks.
Kedren Johnson scored 17 points. Reserve Sheldon Jeter matched his career high with 14 points, all in the second half, and Bright scored 11 as Vanderbilt extended its winning streak to eight straight over Georgia. Vandy hit 17 of 18 at the free throw line.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 20 points and had 14 rebounds for Georgia (13-15, 7-8). His desperate fling at the bucket bounced harmlessly off the left side of the backboard as the buzzer sounded.
Charles Mann hit two free throws for Georgia’s last lead at 62-61 with 42.3 seconds left. Bright missed a 3-pointer, but Caldwell-Pope turned the ball over on the right sideline as he tried to bring the ball up with 19.2 seconds remaining.
Bright got the ball and dribbled up the baseline before pulling up for the jumper. The ball bounced off the front rim and the backboard before falling through.
The Bulldogs haven’t won in Memorial Gym since squeaking out a win in 2006, and they couldn’t hold on to a 34-22 halftime lead when Caldwell-Pope went cold for most of the second half. He had 10 points and 11 rebounds by the 5:39 mark of the first half but didn’t hit another field goal until his 3-pointer with 1:56 left when Vandy already had the lead.
This marked just the second comeback victory this season for Vanderbilt. The Commodores rallied from six down to beat Xavier in overtime Dec. 6. This time, they had to shake off a cold start in which they missed their first nine shots and finished the first half shooting 25 percent (6 of 24).
In the second half, the Commodores returned the favor by holding Georgia to 7-of-23 shooting (30.4 percent) despite being outshot and outrebounded (36-28) for the game.
Georgia led 34-22 at halftime after Johnson scored the final five points of the first half, and Vanderbilt hit its first six free throw attempts after halftime to trim the Bulldogs’ lead to single digits.
Bright hit a 3 with 10:40 left that started a 16-0 run for Vanderbilt. The Commodores rebounded a missed 3 by Vincent Williams only to see officials wipe out Jeter’s layup by calling a charge that had fans booing repeatedly through the ensuing timeout. That riled up not only the fans but the Commodores as well.
Jeter came back down and hit a 3-pointer and followed that with a three-point play, then a dunk to tie up Georgia at 47. Johnson hit a 3 that gave Vanderbilt its first lead of the game at 50-47 with 6:25 to go. Shelby Moats capped the run with a backdoor layup with 5:48 left for a 52-47 lead.