ATHENS, Ga. - A little extra encouragement helped senior sharpshooter Ricky McPhee live up to his nickname of Ricky McThree.
Litterial Green, Georgia's all-time leading scorer, who was working the game as a television commentator, talked to McPhee during the shoot-around. McPhee responded with a career-high 20 points in Georgia's 79-58 victory over North Carolina-Asheville on Tuesday night.
"I got a couple of pointers from him," said McPhee, who had scored 11 points in the first three games and was shooting 38 percent from the field. "He just told me to focus on the rim and have confidence and know that I can shoot. It was encouraging to hear that."
McPhee hit 8 of 9 field goals, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
"He made his first shot, which was big for him," coach Mark Fox said. "He has shot the ball well in practice, but he has had to carry a big load for us defensively, and that has taken a little of his offensive rhythm away."
Travis Leslie added 17 points and Trey Thompkins scored 16 for Georgia (2-2). Albert Jackson came off the bench to score 10 for the Bulldogs.
John Williams scored 14 and Sean Smith added 12 for UNC-Asheville (0-4).
UNC-Asheville followed a season-long trend in falling behind fast as Georgia bolted to a 16-2 less than 4 minutes into the game. It was a reversal of trends for Georgia, which has struggled in the early minutes of previous games.
"We came ready to play," Fox said. "We wanted to start the game and the second half really well, and we were able to do that. When you play well together and finish the plays, you can have some success."
"Coach has stressed to us getting out early," said Jackson, who has been hampered in the early season with a broken hand. "In the loss to UAB, we did not bring much energy early, and it came back to bite us. That is going to be an emphasis for us for the rest of the year."
The game was a return home of sorts for UNC-Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach, who coached under Hugh Durham at Georgia during the 1980s, including the 1983 Final Four team.
"We didn't play well," Biedenbach said. "That's pretty obvious. We just turned the ball over too much. It's that simple. We got some good shots, but they weren't falling. We couldn't break the press either."