ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Ronnie Brewer took the lead as the
Southeastern Conference's top scorer and helped Arkansas to its
fifth straight win to end the regular season by scoring 25 points
Sunday in a 74-57 victory Sunday over Georgia.
"I want to help the team in all areas -- distributing the ball,
making steals, getting rebounds," Brewer said. "But one thing
coach wanted me to do this year was to be more aggressive and put
Brewer is attempting to become the first Razorback to lead the
SEC in scoring. The league doesn't select a top scorer until
post-season play is over. On Sunday, Brewer improved his average to
18.6 points, just three-tenths ahead of LSU's Glen Davis. Brewer's
18.8 average during conference play was two-tenths better than
Jonathon Modica contributed 19 points for Arkansas (21-8, 10-6
SEC) as the Razorbacks won their second straight on the road for
the first time January 2002.
"We haven't really had much consistency away from home this
year," Razorbacks coach Stan Heath said. "We wanted to establish
that we can win on the road, and we did that today."
The Bulldogs (15-14, 5-11) have lost three straight and six of
their last seven. Finishing the regular season with the Eastern
Division's worst record, Georgia now must face the Razorbacks in
the final first-round game of the SEC tournament Thursday night.
Reserve freshman guard Billy Humphrey scored 10 points to lead
the Bulldogs, who blew their chance to take the No. 5 seed in the
East and play Mississippi State in a first-round game at noon.
"This damages our postseason hopes," said Georgia coach Dennis
Felton as looked toward the NIT. "I thought we would help
ourselves tremendously with a win. We certainly did not look like a
postseason team today."
Brewer reported no problems following a collision with Bulldogs
center Rashaad Singleton at the 8:04 mark of the first half.
Despite hitting the floor hard and walking gingerly to the bench,
Brewer quickly returned to hit a 3-pointer and a pair of free
throws that pushed Arkansas' lead to 38-26.
Sundiata Gaines' putback brought Georgia within eight in the
final minute of the first half, but the Razorbacks went on a 12-2
run to begin the second. After Charles Thomas' free throw gave
Arkansas its biggest lead at the time, 50-32, the Bulldogs mounted
one last attempt to close the margin.
Mike Mercer's five-foot runner with 10:49 remaining made it
56-46, but the effort was not enough.
Junior guard Levi Stukes, who began the day with a 12-point
average that led the Bulldogs, finished with just four points in a
career-low 13 minutes. Felton used him for just three minutes of
the second half.
Stukes and Mercer, a freshman guard, were a combined 0-for-7 on
3-point attempts, but Felton was more concerned with his team's
stagnant defense against a fast-paced team like Arkansas.
"We were never as aggressive as I had hoped today," Felton
said. "We just were not playing with as energy as I would have
liked. For whatever reason, we did not have the over-the-top
attitude you had to have to beat them today."
The Razorbacks hardly lacked intensity. When Mercer cut the lead
to 10, Eric Ferguson hit two straight 3s, and Brewer scored on a
fading 16-foot jumper on the left baseline.
Thomas, the object of several verbal assaults from Georgia's
announced crowd of 6,170, finished with 15 rebounds, a career-high.
"We just wanted to go out in the second half and play
aggressive and not let them jump on us first," Brewer said. "We
were trying to put the game away."
The Razorbacks are 0-4 in the SEC tournament since 2001, 0-3
under Heath. They have a conference road winning streak for the
first time since beating Alabama on Feb. 28, 2001, Arkansas'
next-to-last season under Heath's predecessor, Nolan Richardson.
"We have got great momentum going into the tournament now,"
Heath said. "We'll play these guys again, and I really think
Georgia is a much better team than they showed today. I really
expect their guards to step up in the tournament. Next time is
going to be a lot tougher."
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