Marcus Thornton claimed his first career double double and a career high rebound total (11 points 13 rebounds) – throwing in a steal and a block for good measure – in 37 minutes of play and the Georgia men’s basketball team won its second conference overtime game, defeating Arkansas 66-61 Saturday afternoon at Stegeman coliseum. Kenny Gaines led Georgia with 15 points. The Bulldogs start 3-1 in the SEC for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
Georgia led 60-55 with a minute remaining when Donte’ Williams blocked two Arkansas shots in the lane to give Georgia possession. Charles Mann’s ensuing free throws gave the Bulldogs’ a seven-point lead and sealed Georgia’s ninth win of the season.
Georgia scored the extra period’s first seven points, but the Razorbacks roared back before Williams’ defensive gems with a minute left.
“That’s a hard-fought SEC game,” said head coach Mark Fox. “We beat a really good Arkansas team, so we should feel like we accomplished something today because [Arkansas] is a really good basketball team. It was a hard-fought slugfest. That’s a game where both teams are really defending, and fortunately for us, we won the rebounding battle. But that was a dogfight, and we feel good about coming away with a win.”
Arkansas took its largest lead of the day at 7 points with over 15 minutes to play. The Bulldogs then went on a 15-7 run capped by Brandon Morris’ drive and layup with three minutes left in the second half. Both teams had a possession in the final minute of the game and went scoreless.
With 5 minutes remaining in the second half, Charles Mann committed his fourth personal foul and Rashad Madden made one of the two resulting free throws to give Arkansas a five-point lead. It was the largest Arkansas lead since the 13:32 mark and the outlook was bleak for the home Bulldogs. However, Georgia found the most unlikely of heroes with the entry of JJ Frazier to replace Mann. In the final five minutes the diminutive Frazier blocked a shot, made 3 of 4 free throws and claimed three front court loose balls – twice outracing the field to the rim to set up his free throws and once to set up a thunderous Kenny Gaines slam.
The Bulldogs dominated in the paint. Georgia crushed the Razorbacks on the boards 56 rebounds to 34. The 26 offensive rebounds Georgia claimed is the largest total since 1997. Georgia also claimed 22-second chance points to Arkansas’s 10 and scored 24 points from shots in the paint to Arkansas’s 10. Georgia also dominated at the free throw line, making 28 of 39 (71.8%) to Arkansas’s 12 -20 (60%). It was Georgia’s best free throw shooting percentage since December 29 against Gardner-Webb when the Bulldogs shot 76 percent..
This year’s 3-1 start in conference play is Georgia’s best since the 2006-07 season.
Coty Clarke paced the Razorbacks offensively with 13 points. Today’s game was the third straight game in which the Razorbacks have gone to overtime.
Georgia welcomes South Carolina to Athens on Wednesday for an 8:00 p.m. tip-off. SEC-TV will carry the game. For ticket information, go to Georgiadogs.com.