ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - It has been just another tune played at Georgia games this season, but when the pep band began belting out "Respect" yesterday, it suddenly had a lot of meaning.
Georgia was leading Purdue by 10 with 39.3 seconds left in the second round of the West Regional, and Bulldogs forward Steve Jones glanced up from the huddle and began bobbing his head to the song.
By the time Georgia left The Pit with a 76-69 upset over top-seeded Purdue, the Bulldogs had their respect and may have been thinking of another tune "Rocky Mountain High."
The Bulldogs (21-9) achieved what only one other Georgia basketball team had by advancing to the Sweet 16 and the regional finals in Denver.
And more important, the Bulldogs say, America has discovered that Georgia has a basketball team, too.
"Being from [Georgia] and having to hear about Tech and other (( stuff all the time, it's been tough," said forward Shandon Anderson, who added 15 points to Carlos Strong's game-high 17. "Now we've made it to the Sweet 16 or better. We don't have to take a back seat to anybody not football, not Tech, nothing."
Purdue, which escaped becoming the first top-seeded team in tournament history to lose to a No. 16 by edging Western Carolina, 73-71, in the first round, shot itself out of the tournament during a nine-minute stretch of the first half when Georgia went on a 20-2 run to take a 40-26 lead.
And unlike its first-round survival, when Western Carolina missed two shots in the final seconds, the Boilermakers (26-6) got no closer than five points in the second half.
The Boilermakers led 24-20 with 11: 31 left in the first half after hitting nine of their first 13 shots, then went scoreless for 6 1/2 minutes and without a field goal for almost nine minutes.
"If you go back and check Purdue's history in the tournament, we seem to have problems sustaining a lead," said coach Gene Keady, whose Boilermakers have made it past the second round only twice in 12 trips to the tournament since 1983.
Past form also held for first-year Georgia coach Tubby Smith, who will make his third straight trip to the round of 16. He led Tulsa there the past two seasons, then took over the Georgia program and guided the Bulldogs to their first NCAA tournament since 1991.
"[Reaching the Sweet 16] is very satisfying," Smith said after his 100th win. "It's what every player and coach dreams about when you start on Oct. 15. I'm just glad Georgia has produced a team that has been able to produce at this level.
"I always thought from day one that we would be here."
Added Strong: "Coach got us here and we did the rest."
In addition to solid play from Strong and Anderson, it was the surprising play of senior center Terrell Bell, who played perhaps the best all-around game of his career with 15 points, seven blocks and eight rebounds, that made the difference.
"I knew it was either do it, or go home. We wanted to go to Denver," Bell said. "This makes me feel special because that's been a long time. To break this barrier like the '83 team feels wonderful."
Strong said the Bulldogs' defense fed off Bell.
"Terrell blocked lots of shots and even the ones he didn't block, he altered," Strong said.
After the 20-2 run, the Bulldogs never relinquished the lead, going up by as many as 14 points. Purdue cut the lead to five with 1: 11 to go, but Georgia scored five straight points to seal the win.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
UMass 79, Stanford 74
Arkansas 65, Marquette 56
UConn 95, E. Michigan 81
Miss. St. 63, Princeton 41
Utah 73, Iowa State 67
Kentucky 84, Va. Tech 60
Georgia 76, Purdue 69
Syracuse 69, Drexel 58
Georgetown vs. N. Mexico, 12: 15 p.m., chs. 13, 9
Texas Tech vs. N. Carolina, 2: 45 p.m.*, chs. 13, 9
Cincinnati vs. Temple, 12: 25 p.m.
Georgia Tech vs. Boston College, 2: 55 p.m.*
Villanova vs. Louisville, 2: 40 p.m.
Wake Forest vs. Texas, 5: 10 p.m.*, chs. 13, 9
Arizona vs. Iowa, 2: 30 p.m.
Kansas vs. Santa Clara, 5 p.m.*
* approximate time
East: UMass escapes Stanford charge; Arkansas scores second upset, stuns Marquette. (Page 8D)
Southeast: UConn rallies past pesky Eastern Michigan; Mississippi State sends Princeton's Carril into retirement. (Page 9D)
Midwest: Kentucky's press doesn't bother Virginia Tech, so Wildcats use their half-court game to cruise to 84-60 win. (Page 11D)
West: Drexel led early in the second half, but Syracuse's bigger front line proves too much for the upstart Dragons. (Page 10D)
To hear updates of the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, call Sundial at (410) 783-1800 and enter the following four-digit codes:
Men: 6145. Women: 6144.
Pub Date: 3/17/96