Wilkins Leads Charge vs. Hawgs

ATHENS - Damien Wilkins, the unlikeliest candidate of all, led an offensive resurgence for Georgia's basketball team Saturday afternoon.

Damien Wilkins, who had missed critical last-second shots in two of the three previous games, scored a career-high 26 points as the Bulldogs beat Arkansas 71-50 in front of 9,417 fans in Stegeman Coliseum. More impressively, Wilkins hit 11 of his 14 shots.

"It felt real good," he said after Georgia snapped a three-game losing streak with the Southeastern Conference win, "especially after all the stuff I've been reading in the paper and on the Internet about me. That definitely added fuel to the fire."

Georgia, which hadn't shot better than 40 percent from the floor in its last five games, hit 53.2 of its shots (25-of-47). It was the Bulldogs' best shooting effort of the year and more than 10 percent higher than their season average.

"The last couple of days we talked about all the things we needed to do, and I said, 'Hey, it would help to make shots,' and Damien was a big part of that," Coach Dennis Felton said.

Felton said his team played just as well offensively in its last outing at LSU, even though it hit just 39 percent of its shots.

"I was happy to see the guys be rewarded for playing as a team and seeing it work," he said. "Everything gets easier when you make some shots."

Added senior forward Jonas Hayes: "We can score 70. Looky there." Georgia (10-8 overall, 2-5 in SEC) will try to make it two in a row at home in the SEC for the first time since Dec. 22 when it entertains Ole Miss on Wednesday night.

"I was really surprised at how well (Georgia) shot the ball," Razorbacks coach Stan Heath said.

Chris Daniels was the only Bulldog other than Wilkins in double figures. He had 16 points and nine rebounds. Point guard Rashad Wright had six assists, leaving him just five away from becoming the school's career leader in that category.

Wilkins was the story, though. He had a chance to give Georgia a lead inside 10 seconds on Jan. 21 against Alabama but shot an air ball from the foul line. Against LSU on Wednesday, he missed a 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds left that would have tied the game.

In the five games prior to Saturday, he shot 31 percent from the field and made just two 3-pointers. He hit all three of his 3-pointers against Arkansas (10-8, 2-5).

"I was just shooting, and it was just going in," he said. "I knew eventually it would start falling after all the time I've spent in the gym. The fans got a little impatient with me. That's all right, though, I still love them."

Wilkins had 22 points with 13:10 left in the game. He hit a 3-pointer at that point to put the Bulldogs up 55-34 and didn't score again until the 6:20 mark. He then had two straight breakaway dunks, setting his career high with 5:59 left.

Only two Razorbacks had more than six points. Jonathon Modica led the effort with 17, and freshman Ronnie Brewer added 15.

Georgia never trailed in the game. It led 40-25 at halftime and its second-half lead never fell below 13 points.

"Hopefully, we can continue on this path of playing the game the way it should be played," Felton said.

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