NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Jonathon Modica scored 20 points and Arkansas continued its hot streak in the Southeastern Conference tournament with an 80-67 victory over Georgia on Thursday night.
The Razorbacks (22-8) will play No. 16 Florida in the second round Friday. They built up their NCAA tournament resume by finishing the regular season with five straight wins that included victories over the Gators, Alabama and Tennessee.
Four days ago, Arkansas won 74-57 at Georgia, and the Razorbacks had little trouble beating the Bulldogs again.
Georgia (15-15) has not had much luck in the SEC tournament recently. The Bulldogs lost in the first round last year and haven’t advanced past the quarterfinals since 1997.
Arkansas grabbed the lead in the first half and pulled away with a 13-2 run. The Razorbacks didn’t trail again as they pushed the lead to 10 before halftime.
A little over three minutes into the second half, Arkansas was up by 14. Georgia got as close as 53-43 on Mike Mercer’s floater in the lane, but the Razorbacks reeled off 11 straight points in the next four minutes. Eric Ferguson’s 3 made it 64-43 with 12:32 remaining.
Ronnie Brewer, the SEC’s leading scorer, added 18 points, while Ferguson had 16 and Charles Thomas scored 14 for Arkansas.
Mercer scored 16 points off the bench, Younes Idrissi added 14 and Channing Toney had 10 for Georgia.
The Razorbacks hit a low point in a 73-70 loss at Mississippi on Feb. 15, but they beat Florida in overtime in the next game to start their win streak.
Arkansas had lost in the first round the last four years. The Razorbacks made it to the semifinals in 2001 and are the only ones to win the tournament championship having to play four games. Arkansas also won the title in 2000.
Georgia was ahead 16-15 after consecutive 3s by Mercer, but Arkansas responded with the 13-2 run. Modica capped it with a jumper that gave the Razorbacks a 28-18 lead with 8:32 left in the first half.
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