Jeremy Price said head coach Mark Fox warned him to get his rest; that he'd have to play a bigger role for the Bulldogs in Saturday afternoon's game against visiting South Carolina.
The junior obviously listened.
Price scored 16 points, including five over a one-minute stretch late to help propel the Bulldogs to a 66-61 win before a Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 7,597.
"I knew I needed to pick up the slack and play a little better on the offensive end defensive ends," Price said. "Coach told us yesterday; he told me right then I would have to play a lot of minutes so to get my rest. I'm glad that I did."
Price, who played a season-high 33 minutes, could not remember the last time he tallied more time in a game. Actually, he can be excused for not remembering.
You have to back to the 2007-2008 campaign when the Decatur native logged at least 30 minutes, including a career-high 37 against Tulane.
Price came into Saturday's contest averaging just 17.9 minutes per contest, but nearly doubled that against the Gamecocks while Albert Jackson was apparently held out following his arrest early Friday morning for alleged hit and run of a parked vehicle.
"Jeremy is big. He's big every game. He's the type of guy if you ask him to do something, he'll do it," said sophomore Trey Thompkins, who led the Bulldogs with 21 points and 10 rebounds. "He's very emotional and very intense. We appreciate that about him. He keeps us on edge and he delivered. We needed him to deliver in a big way and he did."
Georgia trailed 52-42 with 9:12 left before the Bulldogs (11-12, 3-7) began to scratch their way back, getting back-to-back 3-pointers from Thompkins and Dustin Ware to draw within four a 57-53 with 4:13 to go.
South Carolina (14-10, 5-5) pushed the margin to 59-53 on a jumper by Sam Muldrow, but Georgia responded, first getting a bucket from Thompkins followed by a three-point play by Price at the 2:09 mark to cut the lead to one.
Exactly one minute later, Price knocked down a pair of free throws to put Georgia up 60-59. The Bulldogs would not relinquish the lead as four free throws by Thompkins and two by Travis Leslie kept the Gamecocks at bay.
"Jeremy Price is a great kid, he's a talented player. Tonight he was able to sustain some minutes," Fox said. "He had an early foul and we were really worried about foul trouble tonight, but he responded through that. He finished plays and got some key rebounds for us and was a big part of the win."
Defensively, Georgia held South Carolina without a bucket for 3:44 of the game's final 3:46, allowing just a meaningless layup by Brandis Raley-Ross with two seconds to go.
The Bulldogs also did an admirable job on Gamecock star Devan Downey, the SEC's leading scorer with 23 points per game.
Downey, who poured in 26 points against the Bulldogs during the two team's earlier meeting on Jan. 23 (a 58-56 South Carolina victory), finished with just 18 against Georgia, his fewest in 10 SEC games this year.
"That was a terrific win by our players. South Carolina is a well-coached team. We didn't just beat an all-star, Devin Downey is a great player, putting up great numbers, but we beat a team that is very-well coached and understands how to play together," Fox said. "We had to play our tails off to do that. I'm very pleased to leave here with a win."
Gamecock coach Darrin Horn wasn't about to blame his star senior for the five-point defeat.
"We had a few good stretches and a few bad ones, but on the road you need to be good all the time. We didn't make enough plays down the stretch," Horn said. "We had some really good looks and I thought Devan had some really good shots, but you can't blame him. He's made enough shots in the past that he's allowed to have a bad game."
Georgia, which shot 42.9 percent from the field (21-for-49), certainly helped its cause from the free throw line, connecting on 20 of 23, including the last nine to end the game.
NOTE: Although Jackson did not play the entire game, Fox refused to say after his press conference if his absence was officially considered a suspension or if he would miss any more games. "I made my statement yesterday," was all Fox said. Friday, Fox said he was "still gathering information" on the senior and would wait to do so before making a final call."
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