Originally created 01/22/06

Bulldogs bounce Rebels



ATHENS, Ga. - One look at the Mississippi roster confirmed for Georgia coach Dennis Felton what he already had heard from others:

"They've got as many wide bodies as anybody in the country," Felton said. "Everybody really talked about their ability to rebound and wear you down."

Felton's response was to direct his team, best known for its perimeter play, to pass inside, and a more-balanced Georgia attack beat Ole Miss, 72-65 on Saturday.

Georgia ended the Rebels' seven-game winning streak by claiming a 40-31 advantage in rebounds and a decisive 29-7 edge in points off turnovers.

"We just wanted to work on playing inside more," said Georgia center Dave Bliss, who set a season high with 10 points. "You can get a lot more easy shots that way."

Mike Mercer scored five points in the final minute and led Georgia with 14 points.

After Ole Miss cut Georgia's lead to four points at 64-60, Mercer converted a three-point play with 51 seconds left and then added a layup with 36 seconds remaining for a 69-60 lead.

Sundiata Gaines added 12 points with seven rebounds and four steals for Georgia (12-6, 2-3 Southeastern Conference).

Ole Miss (13-4, 3-1) was denied its first 4-0 start in conference games since the 1936-37 season.

In its previous SEC game, a 69-55 loss to Kentucky on Tuesday night, Georgia had no points from its inside players.

By passing the ball inside Saturday to Bliss and Kendrick Johnson, Georgia eventually opened up more outside opportunities.

"I think we saw how well we can really play when we use our big men as well as our guards," said Georgia guard Levi Stukes.

Dwayne Curtis, who had only four points in the first half, led Ole Miss with 19 points. Clarence Sanders added 12.

Curtis (6-8, 290), Marquis Young (6-9, 310), Mike Smith (6-7, 275) and Jeremy Parnell (6-8, 245) combined for only seven rebounds.

"It's a step forward for our team," Felton said, referring to his team's quick response to losing the lead. "Our defense was more tenacious during that stretch."

Added Felton: "We just got down and dirty with Bulldog defense, man to man."