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March 12, 2010

Georgia advances into SEC quarterfinals

This time, there would be no second-half collapse.

As a result, the Georgia basketball team is moving on in the SEC Basketball Tournament after surging past Arkansas in the first round Thursday night in Nashville by a 77-64 score.

The Bulldogs - who blew a 15-point halftime lead in a loss to Arkansas last month in Athens - will play Vanderbilt in Friday's quarterfinals set to begin at approximately 9:30 p.m.

"We're certainly pleased with the win. It's a hard fought game," Georgia coach Mark Fox said. "Arkansas certainly a very, very good team, and it was a hard fought game. We feel fortunate to win. I was proud of my team. And I'm sure that they'll be excited to stay in Nashville a little while longer."

Sophomore Trey Thompkins proved to be a force the Razorbacks were simply unable to control.

Thompkins dominated on both ends of the floor, scoring 23 points and pulling down 14 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who also received a sterling effort from Travis Leslie who tallied 21 points. Ricky McPhee and Dustin Ware added 10 points each for Georgia witch improved to 14-16 on the year.

Michael Washington scored 20 points to lead Arkansas, who wraps up its season at 14-18.

"We understood that Arkansas is a good team, and they're a team that is able to make runs," Thompkins said. "We, as a team, decided we were going to play defense as hard as we can, and it paid off for us. So when they made their run, we stuck with it, and we understood that, okay, they made their run. Now it's time for us to make ours."

With the exception of the game's opening minutes, Georgia led the entire way.

The Razorbacks did cut the lead to 52-49 with 10:22 left on a pair of free throws by Washington, but could get no closer.

Georgia grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, nine more than Arkansas, and turned them into 19 second-chance points.

The Bulldogs won the game after outscoring the Razorbacks 10-3 over the game's final 4:48.

"I thought that obviously a very hard fought basketball game. Came down to the last three minutes there, and we had some opportunities, like we missed a free throw. I think we turned it over, and then we had a bad shot, and Georgia was able to capitalize on it," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "I think we had a chance -- it was six. We had a chance to cut it on down and didn't do it. I think we may have scored only three points from there on out. Georgia played very well. Obviously, well coached, good players. They're getting better and better every day. They were just better than us tonight especially in the last three minutes of the game."

Georgia and Vanderbilt are certainly no strangers to one another.

The Bulldogs rolled over the Commodores 72-58 in Athens before dropping a 96-94 game in overtime three weeks ago in Nashville.

Friday's winner will play the victor of Friday's other quarterfinal game between Florida and Mississippi State set for 2:30 Saturday afternoon.

"Vanderbilt is a great team. We understand we're going to have to come with every punch we have because they're going to play us hard," Thompkins said. "Right now we're going to focus on them when we get back to the hotel as a team. We'll address that later on. But as of right now, as a team, all we know is we're going to have to come to play just as hard as we played tonight."

NOTES: With the win, Georgia moves to 38-48 all-time in SEC tournament play. The Bulldogs also are 5-3 all-time against Arkansas in SEC tourney play. Georgia also captured its first win in an SEC tourney game played in Nashville's Bridgestone Arena; they are now 1-2 in the arena. The victory also gives Georgia a split in the season series with Arkansas. On Feb. 3, Arkansas defeated Georgia 72-68 in Athens. The 13-point margin of victory was the highest by Georgia against an SEC foe since they defeated Tennessee 78-63 on Jan. 23. This marks the third time this season that Thompkins and Leslie have surpassed 20 points in the same game. Thompkins also posted his 10th double-double of the year.

 

This story brought to you by Shower Accents, servicing North Georgia



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