Georgia faced Arkansas State after an 11-day layoff in Stegeman Coliseum, pulling out the win 68-59. Coach Mark Fox was proud of his team for getting the win, particularly Chris Barnes, who Fox called “terrific”, going 5-6 from the field and finishing with 12 points and three rebounds. Trey Thompkins led all scorers with 15 points.
Despite earning a 20-point lead deep into the second half, the game was not without some drama. Arkansas State battled back and was within two possessions of tying the game, but a steal from Jeremy Price and two free throws from Dustin Ware ensured Georgia another home victory.
Fox credited Arkansas State for battling throughout the game but was disappointed with his team for a lack of concentration with the lead. “We haven’t established the ability to play well with the lead,” Fox stated, adding, “As we get ahead, we lose attention to detail.” Barnes said the team needs to learn how to finish teams off and Gerald Robinson didn’t think his team was playing hard enough. The phrase “step on their throats” was used multiple times by both players, perhaps echoing a theme from the lengthy post-game speech.
It’s possible the 11-day layoff between games also played a role in the late comeback for Arkansas State. Fox dismissed the idea but Barnes said it did play a factor.
Fox was hopeful that experience in these situations will improve the team’s ability to finish games off. “It’s an area we haven’t matured in but that comes with experience” Fox noted. Robinson said it was something they will continue to work on in the next few games before SEC play kicks on January 8th when Kentucky comes to town.
Of course, it’s somewhat of a good problem to have. As Fox pointed out, it’s better than the opposite — playing poorly when you have a deficit.
In a lighter note, Coach Fox and Chris Barnes have a standing bet that Fox has to run the Sanford Stadium steps anytime Barnes hits two free throws in a row, a feat Barnes accomplished in the second half. Fox hoped Barnes wouldn’t remember, but the big man smiled and said, “I haven’t forgotten. I’ll be out there to watch him.” (more…)