ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia struggled in its first game without Jarvis Hayes, getting six points in the final 2:24 from Tony Cole to beat Samford 61-55 on Monday night.
Jonas Hayes, Jarvis' twin brother, led Georgia (4-0) with 14 points. He scored six straight early in the second half after Samford tied the game at 36, and added eight rebounds. Georgia made its first 13 free throws.
Cornell Felton led Samford (2-2) with 15 points.
Samford trailed by eight midway through the second half, but rallied to tie the game at 52 on two free throws from Chris Weaver with 3:48 left.
Cole put Georgia ahead with a pair of free throws and extended the lead with a steal and basket. After Georgia's Ezra Williams stripped Corey Green, Cole iced the game with a fallaway jumper on the baseline for a 58-52 lead with 1:04 left.
Jarvis Hayes, like his brother a transfer from Western Carolina, will miss about a month with a knee injury. His absence further depleted a thin roster, which went just eight-deep against Samford.
Cole, a 5-foot-10 point guard, started in place of the 6-6 Jarvis Hayes as Georgia went with three guards most of the night.
Samford sometimes went with four guards and patiently took time off the shot clock on most of its possessions, taking plenty of Princeton-like backdoors and shooting 35 3-pointers. But it made just 10 from beyond the arc for 29 percent.
Georgia had a hard time defending this attack, and accidentally sent six players onto the court after a time-out with 5:41 left. Chris Weaver then went 1-for-2 from the line, cutting Georgia's lead to 50-45.
When the lead dwindled to four, Georgia shifted to a zone, with 6-8 Chris Daniels roaming around the top of the key. It was effective, too, with Daniels blocking Felton's 3-pointer.
Cole finished with 11 points for Georgia, and Williams and Steve Thomas added 10. Harper had 14 for Samford and Weaver scored 13.