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ATHENS — Georgia guards Sundiata Gaines and Billy Humphrey didn't get a break Saturday.

Necessity forced the two to both played all 40 minutes of the Bulldogs 86-79 win over Auburn, a win that puts Georgia in a good position with four games remaining.

With losses by Kentucky and Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky are tied for third in the SEC East. Georgia beat Kentucky in its first meeting this season and they will play again at the end of the month.

"I'm ecstatic that we won because we're fighting hard to win everyone," head coach Dennis Felton said. "This was a big step."

The two never sat because they were needed.

In the first half, staring guard Levi Stukes picked up his second foul five minutes into the game and sat the rest of the half. In the second, Georgia could never put the Tigers away.

A 21-point Georgia lead with just over seven minutes left was down to nine with a minute to go. Auburn's Kelvin Lewis hit a 3-pointer with 16 seconds and the score was 83-77. From there, the teams traded free throws to end the game.

"We never got tight," Gaines said. "We focused on our game plan and just tried to make our free throws."

This was the fourth time in Gaines' career that he played 40 or more minutes, and the first time this season.

Did he feel it?

"Not too much," Gaines said. "I work out in the off-season to prepare myself for a lot of minutes."

He led Georgia in scoring (21 points), rebounding (seven) and assists (seven).

Eleven of Gaines' points came on 15 free throws, an area where he has struggled his entire career. Gaines entered the game shooting 57.4 percent from the line this season.

Humphrey never had played an entire 40-minute game.

"It didn't feel as bad as I thought it would," he said. "I guess I'm gonna have to get used to it because it can happen any day."

His seven points was seventh-best on the team. But Georgia didn't need him to score with just about everyone else scoring significant points.

Takais Brown scored 14, Dave Bliss and Terrance Woodbury each had 10 and Stukes and Rashaad Singleton both had nine.

Humphrey, though, did plenty of other things.

He rebounded (seven). He assisted (four). And he didn't turn the ball over (two).

Compare that to his game on Wednesday: Seven points, two assists and four turnovers.

"I was just more into it," Humphrey said adding the near-sellout crowd of 10,314 helped the team. "I don't want to be seen as a role player. I want to do what I can to help my team."

Georgia controlled the first half, even without Stukes. The Bulldogs led 41-27 at halftime.

"We were able to do enough good things to stay in command of the game (without Stukes)," Felton said.

Auburn came back in the second half without its two top scorers — Quan Prowell and Josh Dollard — causalities to the refs whistles earlier in the half. Both fouled out midway through the second, and the Tigers were without their two biggest players.

Later in the half, three more Auburn players fouled out. Four of the five were Tigers starters.

The refs whistles were a common sound throughout the game, but especially as the clock wound down.

A total of 60 were called in the game with 13 in the final 3:37 as Auburn fouled to send Georgia to the free throw line. The final foul was called on Woodbury with 1.3 seconds left.

The team combined to shoot 70 free throws — 40 for Georgia and 30 for Auburn — tied for third-most in SEC history. Fifty three came in the second half.

The Bulldogs made 29, or 72.5 percent, above the team's average of 66.7 percent.

"I guess I'm just happy we were on the positive side by having the lead and them having to foul more," Felton said declining to comment any more on the officiating.

Auburn made 20 of its 30 free throws.

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