Georgia needs rally to take down Colonels

It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty. But in the end, it worked.

Despite extended periods of sloppiness and a second-half deficit, the Bulldogs beat Eastern Kentucky 64-57 in a New Year’s Eve matinee on Friday at Stegeman Coliseum.

Although pleased with the final result, Georgia coach Mark Fox wasn’t impressed with the performance, especially since the next stop on the schedule is the Southeastern Conference opener at home against Kentucky on Jan. 8.

"Happy to get the win," Fox said. "But if I don’t start coaching better and we don’t start playing better, it’s going to be a long 2011. I’m disappointed in our team and that’s taking nothing away from Eastern Kentucky."

Trey Thompkins hit 11 of 16 field goals and scored 26 points, including a personal 6-0 run in the second half that helped the Bulldogs re-establish their lead.

Georgia overcame some slow-footed defense, poor perimeter shooting and a three-point, second-half deficit.

"There were loose balls we didn’t get," Fox said. "We didn’t rebound it that great. I don’t think that we executed offensively very well. We had some poor decisions. I don’t think we played hard enough. We made some poor decisions defensively that set us up for failure. I’m not pleased."

Georgia hit 2 of 11 (18.2 percent) from the 3-point line. Eastern Kentucky outscored Georgia 13-8 on second-chance points and 12-4 on points off turnovers. Eastern Kentucky’s bench also outscored Georgia’s 32-9.

"Not every win’s going to be a pretty win, we understand that," Fox said. "But we’ve got to play better basketball."

Georgia (11-2) won its eighth straight game for the first time since 2002-03 and finished off a perfect December for just the third time in program history.

Jim Harrick’s 2002-03 squad was the last team to accomplish the twin feats, but those wins were later vacated because of NCAA violations.

"The important thing is we didn’t have any slip-ups and we won all of our games in December," Thompkins said. "Now we’re going to league play against the team that everybody thinks is the powerhouse in our league. We’re going to prepare as much as possible and we’ll be ready to play."

The score was tied 47-47 when Thompkins scored on three straight jumpers from the right block to give Georgia a 53-47 lead.

"My teammates know that when they need a bucket they can come to me when they need to," Thompkins said. "I don’t necessarily know if that was the plan, but that’s how it ended up. Once you give me the ball, it’s my job to put it in the basket."

Thompkins scored 10 points in a 12-3 Georgia run that pushed its lead to 59-50 with 2:43 left.

"Thompkins is a special player," Eastern Kentucky coach Jeff Neubauer said. "We tried to keep the ball away from him. He was able to shoot threes well and he had the ability to shoot right over people."

Eastern Kentucky (5-8) stayed close throughout the first half as Jeff Johnson scored 15 of his career-high 18 points. Eastern Kentucky took a 41-38 lead with 16:56 left in the first half when Spencer Perrin hit a jumper.

"When the game got really tight, we got some stops on the other end and we started playing," Fox said. "We can’t wait until six minutes to go in the game and start playing like we’re capable. We’ve got to have the same sense of urgency earlier in the game."

Travis Leslie scored 14 points and had five rebounds with three assists. Gerald Robinson added nine points, five assists and three steals.

► NOTES: Thompkins’ 26 points was the second-highest total in his Georgia career. He had 35 against Florida Atlantic in 2009. … Hugh Durham’s 1982-83 Final Four team also went 7-0 in December.



Perrin 5-10 1-1 12, Filipek 0-3 0-0 0, Jo. Jones 3-8 0-0 6, Daniel 0-6 2-2 2, Stommes 2-2 0-0 5, Cruz 2-5 3-3 7, McDonald 1-3 0-0 2, Ja. Jones 1-2 0-0 2, Allgood 1-5 0-0 3, Johnson 7-11 0-0 18. Totals 22-55 6-6 57.

GEORGIA (11-2)

Leslie 6-11 1-1 14, Thompkins 11-16 3-5 26, Price 2-3 0-0 4, Ware 0-2 2-2 2, Robinson 4-9 1-3 9, Thornton 0-2 2-2 2, Barnes 1-2 3-4 5, V. Williams 0-2 0-0 0, D. Williams 1-1 0-0 2, Nolte 0-1 0-0 0, Brantley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-50 12-17 64.

Halftime-Georgia 34-33. 3-Point Goals-E. Kentucky 7-25 (Johnson 4-7, Stommes 1-1, Perrin 1-3, Allgood 1-5, McDonald 0-1, Daniel 0-1, Filipek 0-2, Jo. Jones 0-5), Georgia 2-11 (Thompkins 1-2, Leslie 1-2, Brantley 0-1, Thornton 0-1, V. Williams 0-1, Ware 0-2, Robinson 0-2). Fouled Out-None. Rebounds-E. Kentucky 28 (Perrin 9), Georgia 33 (Thompkins 7). Assists-E. Kentucky 8 (Filipek, McDonald 2), Georgia 14 (Robinson 5). Total Fouls-E. Kentucky 15, Georgia 8. A-5,645.

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RT @chris_starrs: UGA’s Christian Payne saw his first playing time last week against Arkansas.

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