Jeremy Price walked off the Stegeman Coliseum floor on Saturday wearing a bloody eye like a badge of honor.
Price shrugged off scratches across the face to tie two career highs and set another in Georgia’s 81-72 overtime win against Auburn.
"When it first happened, I thought my eye was hanging," Price said. "But it’s nothing. It’s all part of what I signed up for."
Auburn’s Adrian Forbes scratched Price while the two went for a rebound late in the game. Price had blood on his right eyelid and on the bridge of his nose when he talked to the media on Saturday.
"No. 45, he raked me across the eye there at the end," Price said. "It’s no biggie though. Nothing I couldn’t deal with."
Price set a career high with 14 rebounds and tied career highs with 22 points and four blocked shots.
With Trey Thompkins, Marcus Thornton and Gerald Robinson slowed by illness, Price played 38 minutes, including all of overtime, and did not commit a foul. His 22 points led the team.
"I knew some of the guys were kind of fatigued and a couple of the guys were feeling pretty ill," Price said. "I had to do my part to pick everybody up. We tried not to think about them not feeling good. We wanted to think about coming out and playing hard and winning the game."
Price hit 6 of 9 from the field and 10 of 13 from the free throw line to tie a career high of 22 points he set against Tulane in December of his freshman season in 2007. The 14 rebounds broke his previous high of 12 against South Carolina in 2008 and the four blocks tied an effort against Arkansas also in 2008.
"That’s the best I’ve seen J.P. play this year," said Georgia forward Travis Leslie, who played with Price at Columbia High School. "He was really big and finished a lot of plays. It helped us out a lot. He’s a senior and it just motivated us to keep fighting and keep fighting. He gave us a lot of energy."
Dogs pick up illness in Arkansas
At least three Bulldogs came back from Wednesday’s game at Arkansas sick, including starters Thompkins and Robinson.
Thompkins played 36 minutes and scored 16 points, but shot 5 of 14 from the field and had six rebounds. Robinson also struggled, playing 31 minutes and shooting 2 of 6 and scoring seven points with four assists and no rebounds. A third Bulldog, freshman forward Thornton, played nine minutes and scored two points with three rebounds.
"We had a couple of guys who were definitely under the weather, you could tell with their stamina," Georgia guard Dustin Ware said. "But they’ve been getting all the medicine they need. They were a lot better today and we had some guys step up and make up the difference today, too."
Georgia flew to Arkansas on Tuesday for a late Wednesday game, but bad weather forced flight delays and team had to spend a night in Augusta because the plane couldn’t land in Athens.
"It was kind of a long trip," Ware said. "Flights got delayed and we didn’t have any place to land or anything. It was a long weekend for a lot of the guys, but in the end, it gave us an opportunity to come together and work our way through it."
Tigers’ 3-point shooting on target
Auburn stayed within range much of the game mostly because of its long-distance shooting.
The Tigers hit 9 of 18 (50 percent) from behind the 3-point line, which accounted for 37.5 percent of their offensive output.
"It was tough," Ware said. "They got hot and the basket just got big. Every player knows how that feels when you just keep throwing them in. We just had to keep fighting and seeing how many different things we could do to pull it out."
Earnest Ross caused much of the damage for Auburn as he hit 5 of 7 from the 3-point line for Auburn and scored a game-high 30 points. The rest of the Tigers combined to hit 4 of 11 from long distance.
Rebounding made difference
Going into Saturday’s game, Auburn averaged the third-most offensive rebounds in SEC games this season.
So Georgia knew that it needed an inspired effort to keep the Tigers off the glass.
Georgia responded by outrebounding Auburn 48-30, led by a career-high 14 boards from Price.
"It was a big part of winning the game," Price said. "They’re the No. 3 offensive rebounding team in our league, so it was really important to keep them off the glass and for us to get on the glass the entire game."
Auburn managed 10 offensive rebounds, well under the Tigers’ average of 14.3. The Tigers converted those 10 offensive rebounds into 13 second-chance points.
But Georgia minimized the damage by scoreing 12 second-chance points of its own. Ware, a 5-foot-11 guard, grabbed six rebounds, including two critical efforts late in overtime.
"We knew that was going to be a big part of the game," Ware said. "We knew they were going to crash the boards hard. Jeremy (Price) was huge for us. A lot of guys were big and we ended up dominating in that area."
This and that
A moment of silence was held before tipoff in remembrance of Uga VIII who died of Lymphoma on Friday. … Georgia’s all-time leader in coaching wins Hugh Durham was in attendance. … Auburn’s bench outscored Georgia’s 20-9, led by 10 points from Chris Denson. … Leslie hit all three of his 3-point attempts and scored 20 points.