ATLANTA -- One day after proclaiming himself "more healthy than I've ever been," Trey Thompkins scored 22 points to lead Georgia past Auburn 69-51 on Thursday in the opening game of the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Georgia (21-10) has a chance to again bolster its NCAA tournament hopes when it faces Alabama, the Western Division's No. 1 seed, in Friday's SEC quarterfinals.
Georgia-Alabama Matchup is Huge
If Georgia's matchup with Alabama on Friday is an elimination game for an NCAA tournament at-large bid, then head coach Mark Fox has to feel encouraged, writes Mark Schlabach. Blog
Thompkins, a 6-foot-10 junior, is ranked among the SEC leaders with his averages of 15.8 points and 7.6 rebounds despite battling ankle, shin and toe injuries. He said Wednesday he is "100 percent, ready to go" for the postseason. He added 10 rebounds to help support his claim.Chris Denson, a freshman from Columbus, led Auburn (11-20) with a career-high 21 points.Travis Leslie had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Gerald Robinson added 11 points for Georgia.Thompkins recorded only his second game with 20 or more points in his last 12 games.Auburn couldn't extend its season with first-year coach Tony Barbee.Auburn closed its regular season with back-to-back comeback wins over Mississippi and LSU, overcoming double-digit deficits in each game.The Tigers were in their familiar comeback mode from the opening minutes against Georgia, which scored the first five points and never trailed.Thompkins scored Georgia's final seven points of the first half as the Bulldogs took a big lead of 15 points at 34-19 before settling for a 34-23 advantage at the break.Thompkins had two 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the second half to help Georgia pad its lead.