ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Georgia, playing its first conference game since losing Mike Mercer for the season, relied on balanced scoring to beat Auburn 86-79 Saturday.
Six players scored nine or more points as Georgia moved up in the Southeastern Conference standings and boosted its NCAA tournament hopes. Sundiata Gaines led Georgia with 21 points, including seven free throws in the final three minutes. Takais Brown had 14 points and Dave Bliss and Terrance Woodbury each added ten.
Georgia (16-9 overall, 7-5 SEC) topped last season's total of 15 wins while moving into a tie for third with Kentucky in the Eastern Division. The Bulldogs were 15-15 overall and 5-11 in the SEC last season.
Georgia, already adjusting to the loss of Mercer, ran into early trouble when another high-scoring guard, Levi Stukes, was called for his second foul less than five minutes into the game. Stukes sat out the final 15 minutes of the half and finished with nine points.
Auburn (14-12, 4-8) suffered its fourth straight loss. Frank Tolbert led the Tigers with 17 points. Rasheem Barrett added 14 and DeWayne Reed had 13. There were 60 fouls called, including three technicals.