ATHENS – “Just like football! Just like football!”

Many of the 6,703 spectators at Stegeman Coliseum on Tuesday night came just for the opportunity to chant that chant. And with about 17 seconds remaining in Georgia’s basketball game against Alabama, they were finally able to unleash.

At that point, the Bulldogs were putting the finishing touches on an 82-76 win over the Crimson Tide. Winless in their previous six SEC games and eight overall, it had been touch-and-go until then. But Georgia was able to survive a couple of late scares and ice the victory from the free-throw line, and man was it sweet.

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The Bulldogs defeated Alabama on Jan. 10 to win the national championship in football. On Jan. 25, they beat Bama to end basketball’s losing streak

“It was crazy,” Georgia guard Aaron Cook said of the late-game chorus. “That was the loudest I think it’s been in here.”

Said senior Braelen Bridges: “Obviously we just won a national championship. I figured that was going to come as time wound down.”

It almost didn’t. Leading by five and six points inside the final minute, Georgia turned the ball over twice and was saved by a jump-ball possession arrow a third time. But after one turnover, Alabama’s James Rojas missed a pair of free throws and the Bulldogs got a stop after another.

In between all that, Georgia was deadly from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs made 24 of 30 on the night, including 17 of 21 over the final 5:12 of the game. Georgia went from down three to up seven in that span.

Cook led the Bulldogs with 15 points and Jabri Abdur-Rahim added 13, with 10 of the points coming on 11 free throws. Bridges also had 13 before fouling out with 1:06 to play.

“I'm proud of these guys for a lot of reasons," Georgia coach Tom Crean said. “And the staff, too. We won this game on what we worked on in practice. … And I thought we didn't see those ghosts that we see when things sometimes go bad for us."

While it’s the first conference win for the Bulldogs (6-14, 1-6 SEC), they had been extremely competitive in previous games. They led South Carolina by 10 on Saturday before giving up a 24-0 second-half run, led Texas A&M before losing to a 3 with 1.2 seconds left and led Mississippi State and Vanderbilt at halftime.

It’s more tough luck for Alabama (13-7, 4-4). The Tide had risen as high as No. 6 in the polls before losing four of the past six.

All the losses had been turning up the heat on Crean, who is in the fourth year of a six-year contract as the Bulldogs’ coach without logging a winning SEC season. There remains 11 SEC games to get that rectified this season, starting with a trip to Nashville to play Vanderbilt on Saturday.

“I guess there’s some relief,” said Crean, who called his wife, Joani, to share the moment while still courtside. “But if I’m down or they’re down, we don’t win tonight. … I told the guys before the game, you’ve got to play with some joy. We’re playing college basketball. We’ve said, ‘we’ve just got to get this started.’ Now we have to build on it.”

Georgia 82, Alabama 76