Dawgs loss means last place

ATHENS – Georgia said goodbye to its only senior Sunday afternoon in Stegeman Coliseum. And it looks like the Bulldogs will be saying goodbye to their season after one more game.

Georgia lost for the sixth time in seven games in falling 74-57 to Arkansas in front of a crowd generously announced at 6,170. The loss leaves the Bulldogs last in the Eastern Division and slated to play Arkansas again on Thursday in the first round of the SEC Tournament.

Georgia coach Dennis Felton described his team's performance as "lethargic and a little dull."

"You can't explain it," he said. "That's baffling to me that we would come out in a game, coming off a strong performance at Florida, that we would be lethargic in this particular game. I don't think there's any good explanation."

The Bulldogs' first round game in the conference tournament is scheduled to tip off at 9:45 p.m. in the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville, Tenn. Arkansas (21-8, 10-6) is the third seed in the Western Division.

"I really think our only option is to win the SEC Tournament," Georgia point guard Sundiata Gaines said.

A month ago, the Bulldogs were 14-8 and talking candidly about their NCAA Tournament hopes. The second-tier NIT was nothing more than a fall back position. Now Georgia is 15-14 overall, 5-11 in the SEC and even their secondary objective seems like a long shot.

"As of right now, everything is a long shot, so we're just going to look at winning one game at a time," freshman guard Mike Mercer said. "If we finish out the way we're playing, I don't think we deserve to go to any postseason tournament."

It's not like the Bulldogs are losing nail biters. Their last six losses have come by an average of 12 points.

"We certainly didn't look like a postseason team today," Felton said. "As far as our chances, it's a serious blow. Today was a tremendous opportunity. More than just adding another win, it would have been a very, very high quality win."

The game followed the same sorry storyline for Georgia. Its opponent's big scorer scored, Ronnie Brewer had 25 points, its big man dominated, Charles Thomas had 15 points and 15 rebounds, and the Bulldogs missed shot after shot after shot, shooting 37 percent from the field.

"All of our losses follow the same pattern," Mercer said. "We come out real hard in the first half or the first couple minutes and then we have a little drought. We just have to learn to get over that hump, whether it's being tougher and not letting the fatigue factor set in or just having a little more heart."

Billy Humphrey was the only Bulldog to score in double figures, and he finished with just 10.

Leading scorer Levi Stukes had his third poor outing in the last four games. He scored four points and played just three minutes in the second half. Other players were playing with more energy and intensity than Stukes, Felton said.

"Yeah, I was surprised," Stukes said of his limited playing time. "It doesn't upset me. I'm kind of disappointed, but when you let things like this get you, you tend to get down on yourself and it really gets into your game."

Senior guard Jay McAuley, honored before the team's final regular season home game, started for the first time this season. He played almost the first two minutes but didn't take a shot.

With Georgia down 20 points with 1:13 to play and a handful of fans remaining in the stands chanting "Let Jay play," Felton re-inserted his senior in the game. McAuley got off a running jump shot that bounced off the rim and then drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 24 seconds remaining.

"It's been a long ride, a lot of good times and a lot of bad times," said McAuley, the only current Bulldog to play under former coach Jim Harick. "I have a lot of memories at this place. I just wish the outcome of this game was a little different."

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