ATHENS – There was the ridiculous rebound margin. There were also the numerous fallaway 3-pointers and second-chance points that had been unthinkable for this Georgia men’s basketball team.
But the moment that summed up the night, a fun night in an otherwise tough year, came on an alley-oop: Gerald Robinson no-looking a pass up the middle to Donte’ Williams, who threw it down for the crowd-pleasing dunk.
In a season in which little has come easy, this one did for Georgia, as it routed Arkansas 81-59 on Wednesday night.
“We were sick of losing,” freshman forward Nemanja Djurisic said. “And we were determined from the start to the end. It just came from playing hard, practicing hard.”
It was the largest margin of victory this season for Georgia (11-12 overall, 2-7 SEC), which entered the night tied for last place in the SEC.
“We needed it bad,” said Robinson, who finished with a career-high 27 points. “It came at the right time. Basketball’s a long season. Football you’ve got 14 games, in basketball you’ve got 30 games. And any point in time you can turn it around. So I feel like we turned it around at the right time and we’ll try to keep it going up from here.”
Arkansas (16-8, 4-5) entered the night as an NCAA tournament contender. But it is also the worst rebounding team in the league, and it showed.
At one point Georgia – the second-worst rebounding team in the SEC – had a 36-10 advantage on the boards. The Bulldogs also finished with 18 second-chance points, an unusually high number for a team that struggles in the paint.
“That’s as well as we’ve played maybe all year. There’s no question about that,” head coach Mark Fox said.“It was very frustrating the last month, because we were playing but without winning it’s not as much fun,” Djurisic said. “So we came determined to play and we won.”
Georgia pulled away early in the game by scoring 15 straight points, a run capped by the Robinson-to-Williams no-look alley-oop.
Then the Bulldogs extended the lead, getting help from more than the usual suspects.
Marcus Thornton and Tim Dixon each made their first field goal since the team's game against Mercer on Dec. 20. Thornton’s was a 3-pointer, only his second of the season, and Dixon’s made shot was only his third of the season.
By the end, both teams could empty their benches, and for one of the few times this season, the fans at Stegeman Coliseum could give their team a standing ovation.
“We’ve been getting better as a team. I told them before the game: You’re not the same team you were a month ago, you just haven’t tasted the fruits of your labor,” Fox said. “And tonight we were able to play pretty consistent in lots of areas and beat a very good basketball team.”