Dawgs thrash Gardner-Webb

ATHENS – Georgia's Levi Stukes has seen his playing time decrease this season, but he's doing his best to make sure it doesn't affect his scoring.

Stukes scored a season-high 20 points to lead the Bulldogs to a 96-67 win over Gardner-Webb on Tuesday night in front of an announced Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 5,268.

Georgia improved to 6-1 by hitting 11 3-pointers on 58 percent shooting, and Stukes was a perfect 6-for-6 from behind the 3-point line.

"I was 100 percent, huh," said Stukes, a senior who is averaging a career-low 24.4 minutes after Tuesday. "Once one goes in and two goes in and three goes in, every time the ball touches my hand, I think I'm going to make it."

Stukes' first attempt of the night came with 17:22 left in the game and bounced off the rim, high off the backboard and then went through.

"That's when I knew I had the touch," he said. "I knew then and there I was going to have a good shooting night."

Stukes, who has only hit more 3-pointers one time in his career, was 7-for-8 shooting overall and had his best scoring output since Feb. 11. He realized his minutes would go down this year due to the team's improved depth, he said, and he has responded by improving his efficiency.

He's shooting 57 percent overall, including 61.5 percent from behind the 3-point line, and averaging 10.7 points per game this season.

"He's been extremely efficient all year," Coach Dennis Felton said. "I couldn't be more happy with that."

When Georgia started running its "two" play to get Stukes open against Gardner-Webb, forward Takias Brown took advantage of less attention in the post. Brown scored 12 points in the second half to finish with a team-high 21 points in 21 minutes.

"That's what I was brought here for basically," said Brown. "I'm here to score and rebound. That's what I was told to do when I got here."

The Bulldogs hit nine of their 11 3-pointers in the first half. Stukes (4-4) and forward Steve Newman (3-3) combined to hit 7-of-7 in the opening 20 minutes.

Gardner-Webb (1-6) added nine 3-pointers on 29 percent shooting behind the arc. The Runnin' Bulldogs were led by Georgia native Ricky McPhee and Chris Gash, who each had 12 points.

Georgia hit four 3-pointers while building a 17-7 lead five minutes, six seconds into the game and led by double digits the remainder of the game. Its largest lead was 38 points.

The Bulldogs, who had to move a game against Kennesaw State scheduled for Saturday into February due to final exams, now have 10 days off before a Dec. 16 game against No. 18 Gonzaga in the Gwinnett Center in Duluth.

"I'm very leery of an 10-day break," Felton said. "As a coaching staff, we'll do the very best we can to devise a plan to make the best use of this 10 days. I'd rather it not be that way, but it is what it is."

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