January 22, 2011

Dawgs bounce back against MSU

Gerald Robinson Jr. said head coach Mark Fox's message was a simple one heading into Saturday afternoon's game against Mississippi State.

That message - forget all about last Tuesday's buzzer-beater loss to Tennessee.

Apparently, the Bulldogs took Fox's words to heart, rolling to an 86-64 win, dominating the visiting Bulldogs in virtually every phase of the game before a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 10,523.

"It was all about bouncing back from adversity," said Robinson. "He related it back to life. You go through adversity all throughout life, like in sports and you have to bounce back from that. You can't sit there and lie down."

Georgia (14-4, 3-2 in the SEC East) certainly didn't do that.

The home-standing Bulldogs outshot their visitors 49.2 percent (32-for-65) from the field to 41.5, but more impressively crushed MSU on the boards with a 48-23 edge in rebounding. That included a 17-2 advantage on the offensive end.

"We had a very physical rebounding day on Thursday," Fox said. "Today, we certainly saw the results."

Senior forward Jeremy Price agreed.

"That's our emphasis every game," Price said. "The game we come up short, that's the category that shows up short."

Offensively, the Bulldogs spread the wealth as well.

Four players finished in double-figures for Georgia, led by Travis Leslie and Robinson Jr. with 17 points each, followed by Trey Thompkins with 15 and Price off the bench with 11.

"I think we're a pretty efficient offensive team and the one thing that we have, I think, everyone in our normal starting five has had 20 points at some point during the year. It's important for us to have balance," Fox said. "Trey and JP needed to make some shots here to start league play because they've been surrounded. Gerald, Dustin (Ware) and Sherrard (Brantley) today have shot the 3 pretty well, especially today."

The Bulldogs finished the game 11-of-19 from three-point range, including 3-for-3 nights by Ware and Brantley, respectively.

"When we shoot the ball, we shoot with confidence regardless of how many times we shoot," Fox said. "If we're not known for shooting three's, then hey, we'll take that. We stick with our game plan. We stick with what we do every day and we are confident in our system."

The Bulldogs showed that confidence early on, jumping to an 11-2 lead, eventually pushing the margin to 24-8 on Brantley's first three-pointer of the afternoon.

Later in the half, Mississippi State managed to draw within 40-29 on two of Dee Bost's game-high 20 points but would get no closer.

Georgia continued to pour it on in the second half, going up by 22 points with 8:56 to go on another 3-pointer by Ware enabled Fox to start playing his entire bench.

No Bulldog starter played more than 30 minutes (Robinson Jr.).

Mississippi State fell to 10-8 overall, 2-2 in the SEC West with the loss.

"We wanted to come out there and just play tough," Thompkins said. "Mississippi State is known to play tough and they played pretty tough. We just came out and gave them everything we had. We played as a team. Everyone contributed tonight."

Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury admitted his team has seen better days.

"I don't think we were very good from the get-go. Georgia out-worked us and out-toughed us from the start," he said. "We just didn't compete consistently enough the way you have to when you're on the road in the SEC. I'm disappointed we weren't better. We know that Georgia would be good, but what frustrates me is that we didn't play as well as we can."

It didn't help MSU that the Stansbury's bench was outscored by Georgia's 27-3 with Brantley and Thornton chipping in with 9 and 7 points, respectively. Thornton also led Georgia's effort on the boards with nine rebounds.

"Our bench played really well. Marcus Thornton played well, rebounded well, Sherrard Brantley shot well," Fox said. "We didn't shoot free throws today worth a darn (11 of 21) but our bench played well and Marcus has continued to improve. It was good to see him be as productive as he was."

Georgia returns to action Tuesday when the Bulldogs host Florida. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

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