January 18, 2014

Another OT thriller for Dawgs

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When the SEC portion of Georgia's basketball schedule got underway 10 days ago, few predicted the Bulldogs to sit in the upper half of the conference standings four games into league play.

But after Saturday's 66-61 overtime win over Arkansas, that's exactly the case.

"We beat a really good Arkansas team so we should feel like we accomplished something today," head coach Mark Fox said. "It was a hard-fought-slugfest. It was a dogfight, and we feel good about coming away with the win."

Resiliency appears to becoming a strength of this Bulldog squad.

Just last Tuesday, Georgia (9-7, 3-1) was blown out by Florida 72-50, barely resembling the team that took the court against the Razorbacks (12-5, 1-3), who were playing their third overtime game in a row.

But just as it did in their other two victories against Missouri (also in overtime) and Alabama, Georgia dominated the boards, besting the Razorbacks 56-34 to make up for the fact that they only shot 31 percent from the field (18-for-58).

"I like that style of play," Marcus Thornton said. "I don't know if you could have said that (about the Bulldogs) a month or so ago, so it's good that we're definitely starting to get that and impose that on people."

Thornton did some imposing of his own against the Razorbacks.

The junior tallied his first career double-double, scoring 11 points to go along with a career-best 13 rebounds.

Tied at 52 at the end of regulation, the five-minute overtime was all Georgia.

After going just 1-of-11 from 3-point range, sophomore Kenny Gaines got the OT off to a rousing start when he drilled a shot from beyond the arc to put Georgia up by the three.

The Bulldogs never trailed again, twice extending the margin to seven points before easing to the five-point win.

"It was pretty important," Gaines said of his 3-pointer, part of his team-high 15 points. "You always want to come out with the first blow, especially going into overtime. It felt like that was just a good confidence booster for the rest of the team. It encouraged us to play harder defense and just keep playing hard."

Arkansas led by as many as seven points in the second half before a 16-7 run put the Bulldogs up 50-48 with 2:48 to play.

Helping to spark the comeback was the play of freshman point guard J.J. Frazier, who took over for a struggling Charles Mann and tallied five points (all free throws) with four rebounds in 17 minutes.

"We had some guys who haven't been in the limelight who were heroes today," Fox said. "I though J.J. Frazier gave us a big lift today. I've really been hard on J.J., but he's improved, he's toughened up. He really made some progress and was a big part of the game today."

Arkansas, which was held to 31.8 percent from the field (21-for-66), didn't do itself any favors from the free throw line, converting just 12-of-20 shots, much to the chagrin of head coach Mike Anderson.

"It comes back to free throws. If you can get to the free throw line and make some free throws, you limit the margin," Anderson said. "I always tell our guys there is a thin line between winning and losing. When those opportunities come you need to take advantage."

But credit Georgia's work on the glass for propelling the team to Saturday's win.

The Bulldogs remain undefeated (9-0) when outrebounding its opponent. Saturday, the team's 24 offensive boards where the most since Feb. 9 of 2007 when Georgia had 26 vs. Vanderbilt.

NOTES: he win is Georgia's second overtime victory of the year after beating Missouri on the road in overtime to open SEC play ten days ago. � The 3-1 start in conference play is the Bulldogs' best since the 2006-07 campaign. � The 66 points mark the 12th time this season that it has scored over last season's point average (60.8). � Saturday marked Georgia's sixth consecutive game vs. an RPI Top 100 opponent. � Georgia's 71.8 percent free throw percentage is its best since 12/29 vs. Gardner Webb (76 percent). � The Bulldogs return to action Wednesday night with a home game against South Carolina (8 p.m.,SEC-TV).

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