March 10, 2011

Dawgs roll past Auburn

ATLANTA - Mark Fox is getting tired of all the 'what-ifs.'

He's only focused on the present and not worried about a possible NCAA bid, something he made very clear to reporters, even after Georgia cruised past Auburn in Thursday's first-round of the SEC Tournament, 69-51.

"Well, let me tell you, I didn't coach them on anything. What we have done this entire year is play it one game at a time. We begin talking about the NCAA tournament and resume games and those types of things back in November," Fox said. "This week we haven't talked about it one time. So they looked at it that way. We never looked at it that way. Today was a chance to play in the SEC Tournament and a day to try and advance. That's all we have talked about all week. I haven't allowed them to talk about anything else."

Right now, Alabama is all that's on the collective minds of the Bulldogs (21-10) as they hope to continue their advance in the SEC Tournament being held at the Georgia Dome.

If a victory over the Tigers (11-20) didn't secure a spot in the field, a win over Alabama - the No. 1 team in the SEC West - certainly will.

"We have played the entire season to create a tournament resume in which the committee will evaluate and we have tried to do what the committee's asked us to do," Fox said. "Alabama's probably trying to do the same thing. I'm not sure their RPI numbers and all that is, but this is a great league. Everybody says, 'Well, the SEC is down.' There's two good teams playing tomorrow, I have no idea where either one of us sit in the eyes of the committee, and we can't control that. So all we're going to worry about is trying to advance in this tournament."

Senior Chris Barnes agreed.

"We don't. We try not to look at that. We just try to take it one game at a time. Every game is critical," Barnes said. "We got to come out and play every game the same, no matter who the opponent is. That's how we go into every game. We just got to come out and just play hard. A lot of people been saying stuff about the NCAA, but us as team, are not looking at that right now. We're just looking forward to the next game. We can't look to the future right now."

If the Bulldogs can play against Alabama (1 p.m., SEC Network) the way they did against Auburn, Georgia's future in the tourney might last a day or so longer than expected.

Fox's squad dominated from the outset, getting an outstanding game from Trey Thompkins, who scored secured his 20th career double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Travis Leslie chipped in with 12 points and pulled down 10 boards for a double-double of his own. Gerald Robinson added 11 points for the Bulldogs, who held Tiger standout Earnest Ross to just four points after scoring 30 against Georgia last month in Athens.

"He's a great player. It probably wasn't a lot of fun for our players to watch him score 30 against us on the game film," Fox said. "So today we had a much better approach. He's a very good player and we gave him a little special attention today, because he whooped us the first time. I thought today that Travis did a much better job."

The Bulldogs started the game quickly, getting an early three-pointer from Dustin Ware to grab a lead that Georgia kept throughout the first half.

Georgia's margin grew to 11-4 followed a put-back by Thompkins, but as has been their custom the past two games, Auburn came right back, drawing within one point at 16-15.

That would be as close as the Tigers would get.

Georgia scored the game's next eight points to extend the lead to 24-15, and later got seven straight points from Thompkins to cap 18-4 run by the Bulldogs who eventually settled for a 34-23 halftime advantage.

The Tigers never got any closer than 10 points in the second half.

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