NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Georgia star Trey Thompkins scored, rebounded, blocked, assisted and defended Thursday night like an All-SEC first-team selection – which is exactly what he was this season.
Because he did, the Razorbacks ended what once looked like a promising 2009-2010 season on a six-game losing skid.
Thompkins had 23 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists while Travis Leslie added 21 points as the Bulldogs downed the Razorbacks 77-64 in the opening round of the SEC Tournament before 14,789 at Bridgestone Arena.
It was a six-point game late before Georgia raced away by scoring 10 of the contest's last 13 points.
"I thought that obviously was a very fought basketball game," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "Came down the last three minutes there and we had some opportunities…missed a free throw. I think we turned it over and then we had a bad shot and Georgia was able to capitalize on it."
While Georgia (14-16) moves on to face Vanderbilt on Friday, the season ends for the Razorbacks (14-18) – who were just 19-of-49 from the field, 1-of-12 from 3-point range and 25-of-35 from the free throw line.
Still with all that woeful shooting, the UA rallied from 11 points down in the second half and had a chance to win.
"Coaches told us to keep fighting," Arkansas freshman Marshawn Powell said. "Georgia is very good, they have very good big men. Trey Thompkins – we just tried to contain him as best we could. We just continued fighting."
Georgia head coach Mark Fox watched his team's lead dwindle to 67-61 late.
But Courtney Fortson missed a free throw, Julysess Nobles missed a pair of charity tosses and Thompkins and his mates closed it out from that point on.
"It really was a hard-fought game that we were fortunate to win," said. "I was proud of my team and I am sure they will be excited to stay in Nashville a little while longer."
Senior Michael Washington had 20 points in his final game as a Razorback – going 10-of-14 from the line as the UA continually pounded the ball inside to him.
Fortson had 16 points and Powell 10 for Arkansas while Dustin Ware and Ricky McPhee added 10 each for Georgia.
Nobles added six points, Bryant 4 and Rotnei Clarke 4 on a night when he was 0-of-4 from the field and did not get the needed trio of 3-pointers that would have broke Scotty Thurman's school mark of 103.
Arkansas twice used pressure defense – Nobles had four steals – to cut a nine-point first-half deficit to one.
It then reduced a 11-point second half deficit to 52-49 and then made a final push to 67-61 after falling down nine again.
"We understood that Arkansas is a good team and they are a team that is able to make runs," Thompkins said. "We as a team decided we were going to play defense as hard as we can. It paid off for us. When they made their run, we stuck with it and we understood, okay, they made their run, well now it is time for us to make ours."
Fox was horrified with how is team handled the UA press.
"We had some careless turnovers," Fox said. "We had some November turnovers. We had some November plays and it was really a mixed bag of them. We had three or four guys that had their pockets picked or just gave them the ball."
Powell said after the game that the six-game skid is something he will use to power his off-season.
"It's frustrating, but for me, I'm going to take it as motivation for next year just to get myself better in the offseason," Powell said.
Being 7-4 in league play and leading the West only to slide home should indeed motivate Arkansas per Fortson.
"With us losing those close games, with us being 7-4 at one - I think we are going to have that attitude going into next year that we can beat those teams," Fortson added.
Pelphrey's first team at Arkansas went to the NCAA Tournament but has won 14 games in each of the last two seasons.
The Razorbacks were 8-11 at one point this season then finished 6-6 in their last 12 conference games after starting out just 1-3 in league play.
"I'm very appreciative of what those young men's efforts are," Pelphrey said. "And hopefully, there's no question it is going to get bigger and better…they can be rest assured that their hard work and efforts won't go for nothing."
Georgia 77, Arkansas 64
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