Longhorns victimized by late Georgia rally
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Tasha Humphrey's coach wants her to blend in like just another freshman.
It's not working. Just two games into her college career, she already appears to be one of the best players in the country.
Humphrey scored all but three of her 27 points during a dazzling second half, and No. 5 Georgia rallied from a 15-point deficit to stun second-ranked Texas 78-64 Sunday night.
"I knew they couldn't guard her," Georgia coach Andy Landers said. "We just had to figure out a way to get her the basketball."
Landers had taken extraordinary steps to help Humphrey blend in with a team that reached the NCAA regional finals last season. He banned all freshmen from doing interviews until the team returns from a Thanksgiving tournament in Hawaii, but it was clear the rule was intended for one player in particular.
"Mostly, it's because of our team," Landers said. "I know the focus is going to be on Tasha. I understand that. I don't have a problem with that. But the team has got to get comfortable with her."
Humphrey's teammates shouldn't have any complaints so far.
She scored 25 points in her college debut, leading the Lady Bulldogs (2-0) to a rout of Furman. She was even more impressive against a perennial powerhouse in the women's game, dominating the final 20 minutes with a variety of jaw-dropping moves that defied her youth.
The 6-foot-2 Humphrey, who has been compared by her coach to Charles Barkley, did a little of everything. Along with hitting 10-of-15 shots from the field, she grabbed eight rebounds, dished out two assists and had a steal.
When Humphrey backed into the lane, faking right before turning left to bank in a shot over Heather Schreiber, the Lady Bulldogs led 70-56 and were cruising. The Longhorns called a timeout, and Georgia's mascot dove to his knees at center court, bowing in Humphrey's direction.
No one could doubt she was worthy of such treatment.
"Humphrey lit us up at the end when we were trying to make our run," Texas coach Jody Conradt said.
Humphrey telephoned her coach earlier in the day to say she was nervous about playing the Longhorns. Landers wasn't concerned.
"I said, 'Did you usually get nervous when you had a big game in high school?' She said, 'Yes.' I told her, 'Then you'll probably be fine,'" Landers recalled.
Tiffany Jackson scored a career-high 27 points for the Longhorns (1-1), while Schreiber had 22. It wasn't nearly enough in a game that took a stunning turn.
The Longhorns put together a 15-0 run in the first half for a 28-13 lead. Schreiber accounted for eight of the points, including a couple of 3-pointers, and Texas kept the Lady Bulldogs off the scoreboard for more than seven minutes.
On the verge of getting blown out, Georgia rallied behind Cori Chambers. She broke the scoreless drought with a jumper, followed with a 3-pointer and closed the first half with another 3.
Humphrey also connected from outside the arc, helping Georgia close the half with a 14-4 run and go to the locker room trailing only 32-27.
"In the first half, we came out ... like we were not real sure of ourselves," Rebecca Rowsey said. "They were attacking us, and we were sitting back letting them do what they wanted to do. We decided we would have to attack them if we wanted to win."
Chambers finished with 20 points, the best of her career. Sherill Baker added 13 as Georgia avenged a 71-58 loss in Austin last season.
"It's just awesome," Chambers said. "It really gives us a boost of confidence. It's a big win for the team. Everything is starting to come together."
Conradt credited Georgia's guards - Chambers and Baker especially - with tipping the balance toward the Lady Bulldogs, saying Humphrey and Jackson essentially canceled each other out on the inside.
"I would give them my No. 1 vote right now," Conradt said. "Nobody has better guards and more depth at guard than Georgia."
Senior Forward Heather Schreiber