November 13, 2009

Thompkins power Dawgs to win

Everybody wanted to talk about his career-high 25 points. However, when Trey Thompkins glanced down at the official boxscore there was another statistic on his column that jumped immediately to mind.

"That makes me more happy than anything," said Thompkins, referring to the 12 rebounds, his fifth-career double-double, that helped propel the Bulldogs to a 67-59 win in Mark Fox's debut as head coach Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
"It was our first outing, so I'll go back and look at everything," he continued. "I'm going to evaluate it and watch the game tape and do what I can to make my team better. That's my focus right now."

Fox was relatively pleased with what he saw.

Although the Bulldogs scuffled from the field, shooting 44.9 percent for the game, Georgia dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Privateers 41-27 and managed to outscore New Orleans (0-1) 12-6 over the final 2:21 to finish with the eight-point win before a happy crowd of 6,365.

Senior guard Ricky McPhee keyed the spurt, scoring all six of his points during the stretch, including a huge 3-pointer to extend Georgia's lead to 58-53.

"Ricky made a couple of big plays late while Trey carried us early," Fox said. "I felt coming in that we would be very out of sync early. I anticipated that we would have some offensive struggles but certainly Ricky made some big baskets for us late."

Jeremy Price was the only other Bulldog to finish in double-figures, scoring 12 points on the evening, while Chris Barnes certainly helped Georgia's cause on the board with a career-high 11 rebounds.

"Trey needs help scoring the ball. He certainly answered the call tonight but we need to develop other people to consistently score. It might be by committee. It might not be the same second person every night," Fox said. "This team is not as offensively gifted as some; we're going to have to be very diligent in how we play. Some nights it might be Dustin (Ware), or in the exhibition like it was with Travis (Leslie). But we are going to need added scoring punch if we are to be a good team."

Until then, Georgia will continue to lean heavily on Thompkins for its offensive punch.

The sophomore, who helped the lead the U.S. Under-19 team to a World Championship last summer in New Zealand, tallied 16 first-half points.

In the second half, the Privateers used constant double-teams to try and slow down the 6-9 forward and were effective, building a 45-40 lead until Thompkins and the Bulldogs were able to rally.

A jumper by Drazen Zlovaric put Georgia back in front 46-45 before five straight points by Thompkins (including a 3-pointer) pushed the margin to 51-46. The Bulldogs would not trail again.

"I pride myself on just being there for my teammates; whatever it takes," Thompkins said. "Granted there are still things we have to learn and there are still mistakes that we're making, but we're making the right strides as a team and we're still making those strides."

Although Fox would like to see Thompkins cut down on his five turnovers, the coach certainly liked what he saw from his talented big man.

"Trey has worked hard in the offseason. He had a very productive offseason, he was able to stay in shape, he got that experience internationally and he practiced well," Fox said. "He made a lot of winning plays tonight, the great offensive rebound put-back and he really played mature basketball. He made some mistakes, I don't know what his turnovers were, but he still had a good night."

However, do not get Fox wrong. There is still tons of work left to do.

"When you come to the gym every day for a game, you have just one goal in mind - to win. I was extremely pleased with parts of our play, disappointed with other parts but for the first game with this group together, I was pleased that we had a closely-contested contest," Fox said. "New Orleans was well prepared and it was a good game for us. We need experiences like that and I was pleased that our kids played well in the last four minutes of the game."

NOTES: Former Bulldog Billy Humphrey scored 11 points in his return to Stegeman Coliseum after he was kicked off the team by former head coach Dennis Felton. … Zlovaric played a career-best 25 minutes after replacing Leslie who got into early foul trouble. … Center Albert Jackson played just five minutes and finished with two points and two rebounds. Jackson is recovering from a broken bone in his left hand.

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