In Stukes' absence, freshman Channing Toney turned in an inspired performance by scoring nearly half of the Bulldogs' total points. He had 21 points on 9 of 16 shooting from the field. His 38 minutes tied a season high.
"With Levi being our leading scorer, I knew I had to step it up offensively," Toney said. "It was my time to step since he was out and I think I did that.
"But I would have rather had a win."
The scrappy Bulldogs mixed it up defensively. They mostly used man or a base 2-3 zone, but also worked in a box-and-one, with Toney guarding Arkansas playmaker Ronnie Brewer in a man and the other four defenders playing a zone.
"Ronnie is a great player," Toney said. 'He's hard to keep up with because he's so quick and so long and the way he leap frogs, you have to be real careful with him because he's such a good player."
Toney held his own against Brewer and did a nice job of making the Hogs sophomore work to get open. Brewer still knocked down 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting from the field.
"Brewer is a critical part of their team," said Georgia first-year coach Dennis Felton of the decision to try to the box-and-one. "He is the start of everything for their team at both ends of the court and so we felt like we might make them a little uncomfortable by not allowing Brewer to handle the ball as much as they would like."
Arkansas contained Georgia's big men for the most part and, without Stukes in the lineup, the Bulldogs were limited more than usual offensively. The Bulldogs were outscored 42-26 in the paint and were outrebounded 24-21.
"We were supposed to guard Brewer and force their other players into shooting," Younes Idrissi said. "Then, try to get the rebound and I thought we did a pretty good job of that overall."
Idrissi's sky hook over Arkansas' Darian Townes made it 12-all with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
The Bulldogs then took a short-lived 16-14 lead after back-to-back buckets by Toney.
"We just kept trying to change it up offensively," Toney said. "Get some easy buckets and get some confidence early, but we didn't consistently do what we needed to do to win."
Toney stayed confident by draining a 3-pointer, his second, to give the Bulldogs a 21-19 lead with 4:37 remaining in the first half.
"Mentally, we were very focused in the first half," Idrissi said. "But as soon as we would get something going, they would get an easy transition bucket or a dunk and be on their way."
But Georgia, down to just six scholarship players with Stukes out, were bound to run out of steam and did as Arkansas put together an 8-0 run and take a 27-21 lead into intermission.
We knew that we would probably give up some runs (Wednesday), but we answered most of them," said guard Kevin Brophy. "It was just hard for us to match up with them athletically."
In the second half, Arkansas outscored the Bulldogs 35-26 by pounding the ball inside to Townes for easy points. The Bulldogs did a nice job of denying the entry passes at times, but Townes still had a team-high 17 points.
"We didn't let the wheels fall off," Felton said. "We kind of regrouped most times and had a very good answer and just kept the game on our terms.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win and that's a big step forward for our young players."
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