January 22, 2011 11:02:00 PM
ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Fox believes it is becoming more difficult to devise a defensive plan against his balanced University of Georgia men''s basketball team.
Georgia, a strong inside team in December, showed off its 3-point shooting against Mississippi State while also remaining tough on the boards.
Georgia took a big lead with sharp 3-point shooting in the first half, Travis Leslie and Gerald Robinson each scored 17 points in an 86-64 on Saturday.
Trey Thompkins had 15 points and seven rebounds for Georgia (14-4, 3-2 Southeastern Conference).
Georgia''s strong case for an inside-outside balance: It made 11 of 19 3-pointers and was dominant with a 48-23 advantage in rebounds.
"We had some threes because our inside play was so good in December," Fox said.
Entering the game, Georgia was last in the SEC with its 74 3-pointers for the season.
"When we shoot the ball, we shoot with confidence regardless of how many times we shoot," Thompkins said. "If we''re not known for shooting threes, then hey, we''ll take that. We stick with our game plan. We stick with what we do and we are confident in our system."
Georgia also showed good depth.
Freshman Marcus Thornton had seven points and led Georgia with nine rebounds off the bench. Jeremy Price, normally a starter, had 11 points and five rebounds while playing behind Chris Barnes. Sharrard Brantley had nine points on three 3-pointers.
Dee Bost led MSU (10-8, 2-2) with 20 points, five assists, and five steals.
Renardo Sidney added 15 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 3 minutes, 10 seconds remaining. Sidney''s eight teammates combined for only 14 rebounds, and no player had more than three.
"Georgia outworked us and out-toughed us from the start," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said. "We just didn''t compete consistently enough the way you have to when you''re on the road in the SEC."
Sidney, who is 6-foot-10, 275 pounds, had five turnovers.
"He wasn''t effective," Stansbury said. "When the game was at stake, he didn''t work in the post the way he needed to. He''s got to push himself to get better and to get into better shape."
Georgia made 6 of 10 3-pointers in the first half for a 42-29 lead. Georgia took the lead with an 11-0 run in the opening minutes and kept the advantage in double figures the rest of the game.
MSU came no closer than 13 points of the lead in the second half.
"I''m disappointed we weren''t better," Stansbury said. "We knew Georgia would be good. What frustrates me is that we didn''t play as well as we can."
MSU''s 23 rebounds were only one above its season low.
"That''s embarrassing," Bost said. "Our bigs were battling down low, and it''s up to our guards to get down there and fight, too."
Georgia bounced back from a 59-57 loss to Tennessee.
"We wanted to come out and just play tough," Thompkins said. "Mississippi State knows how to play tough. They played pretty tough. We gave them pretty much everything we had."
Robinson, who averaged 18.3 points in Georgia''s first four SEC games, continued his strong play with five assists, five rebounds and three steals. The transfer from Tennessee State had eight points in the first eight minutes of the second half, including four points in an 8-0 run for a 59-38 lead after MSU pulled to within 13 points.
MSU made only 2 of 10 3-pointers in the first half before improving its long-range shooting in the final 20 minutes. Bost, Ravern Johnson, who had 13 points, and Kodi Augustus tried to rally MSU by making 3-pointers.
Georgia kept pace with its continued strong 3-point shooting.
NOTES: Students chanted "Isaiah! Isaiah!" during a first-half timeout and again at halftime in an attempt to coax running back recruit Isaiah Crowell of Carver High in Columbus to sign with Georgia. Crowell and other football recruits attended the game with coach Mark Richt and several assistant coaches. ... Dustin Ware had nine points while making each of his three 3-pointers for Georgia.