February 5, 2011

Dawgs take ugly OT win

Mark Fox was the first to admit that his team's effort Saturday against visiting Auburn - the team with the worst record in the SEC - left a lot to be desired.

At least he could be happy about the final score, although the Bulldogs had to go to overtime before securing an 81-72 victory before a Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 10,177.

"I feel fortunate to win it. Auburn played with a little more edge than we did tonight and you have to credit them for that," Fox said. "It is a win, even though I'm very disappointed. I didn't do a very good job of preparing us play to be honest with you. We'll move on from here."

The Bulldogs (16-6, 5-4) can certainly consider themselves fortunate.

After leading 66-61 with 2:38 to go, Georgia failed to execute either offensive or defensively the final stretch, eventually being forced to overtime Earnest Ross stole an errant inbounds pass from Trey Thompkins and scored with 10 seconds left.

But whatever momentum the Tigers (8-15, 1-8) may have accrued didn't last for long in OT.

A 3-pointer by Ross with 3:13 to go in the five-minute period put Auburn up 72-71, but those would be the last points the Tigers would score the rest of the game as the Bulldogs went on a 10-0 run to sew up the victory.

"We struggled to score, which is unusual for us making as many shots as we did today," Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. "But we got our tails kicked on the backboard. I'm proud of my kids, but disappointed because it could have gone either way."

Barbee wasn't kidding about the boards.

Georgia held a 48-30 edge in rebounding, 36-20 on the defensive glass, numbers that eventually helped the Bulldogs overcome a horrible afternoon handling the basketball as evidenced by their 17 turnovers to just nine for Auburn.

"We had a couple of mental mistakes towards the end like the pass that Trey threw," junior Travis Leslie said. "We just made a lot of mental mistakes. There were a couple of things that w could have done better. We're going to work hard in practice on it and get better."

If not for Leslie and Jeremy Price stepping up their respective games in lieu of Thompkins, who was suffering from flu-like systems, the outcome no doubt would have been different.

Leslie scored 20 points, including 3-of-3 from three-point range while Price scored a season-high 22 points and pulled down a career-best 14 rebounds.

"It (outrebounding Auburn) was a big part of winning the game," Price said. "I think they're the No. 2 offensive rebounding team in the SEC. We felt like it was really important for us to get them on the glass and to keep them off the glass the whole game."

Fox was certainly grateful for that.

"Jeremy did play very well. Trey had an IV before the game, but J.P. knew he would have to come out ready to play and I thought he was very consistent. He was pretty darn good for us. He played like a senior," Fox said. "But his high school teammate, Travis Leslie, who I've complimented for the last few days for coming in, watching tape to see the plays he was missing; he came out and also played well and deserves a lot of credit for today, too."

Ross scored a career-high 30 points for Auburn, which trailed Georgia 38-34 at the half.

"We didn't play as well as we wanted to today, but at the end of the day it's all about if you won or lost," Fox said. "We won."

NOTES: The Bulldogs wore their all gray tops and bottoms for Saturday's game for the first time all year. The last time Georgia wore the uniforms was during a home loss to Arkansas last season. "Our football team wears the silver britches, and I was so proud of Coach Richt this week, I thought it would be a good way to honor our football program," Fox said. … Along with Thompkins, Fox said there was "two or three" other players who were given antibiotics for flu-like symptoms since returning from Arkansas earlier this week. … Georgia returns to action Tuesday against Xavier in a non-conference game slated to be televised on ESPNU at 7 p.m.

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