Gaines' career-best 35 lead Georgia over Murray State 63-52
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Kenny Gaines was upset he wasn't around at the end of Georgia's season-opening overtime loss to Chattanooga last week.
He played only 16 minutes before fouling out.
Gaines made sure that didn't happen against Murray State on Friday night.
He scored a career-high 35 points, including three consecutive 3-pointers, to help the Bulldogs pull away late for a 63-52 victory.
''I was just kind of feeling it,'' Gaines said. ''I knew we needed buckets, so I just kept throwing them up there. The coach kept telling me to shoot and my teammates kept giving me the ball, so I just wanted to capitalize on it.''
Gaines' previous best was 27 points against South Carolina on Feb. 22, 2014.
He passed that mark with a 23-foot 3-pointer with 3:39 left to give the Bulldogs a 51-50 lead.
Gaines came back on the next possession with another 3-pointer from the corner and then hit one from the top of the key, helping the Bulldogs (1-1) build a 57-52 advantage with 2:19 remaining.
Gaines also set career highs with 10 field goals (10 of 18) and seven 3-pointers (7 of 14).
His teammates combined for seven field goals.
''What an incredible performance by (Gaines),'' Murray State coach Matt McMahon said. ''He goes three straight, back-to-back-to-back 3s. Our defensive coverage was average at best on him. We were supposed to be keyed-in on him and forcing those tougher shots, but he came through and made the plays when they needed.''
Murray State entered shooting 33.3 percent from the 3-point line, but hit only four of its 23 attempts (17.4 percent), including 1 of 13 in the second half.
Bryce Jones, Damarcus Croaker and Chad Culbreath scored 11 points each for the Racers (2-1).
Georgia was 17 of 57 from the field (29.8 percent) and Murray State was 17 of 56 (30.4 percent).
The Bulldogs had an excellent opportunity to put Murray State away after taking a 39-31 lead early in the second half. But they missed five straight shots and couldn't extend the advantage while the Racers missed eight.
Culbreath's jumper finally ended Murray State's drought, cutting the deficit to 39-33 with 12:37 left to play.
The Racers took a 50-48 lead on Jones' 3-point play with 4:11 remaining, but then Gaines took over for the Bulldogs.
''(Gaines) was outstanding,'' Georgia's Yante Maten said. ''It's fun to watch even when you're on the team and on the court, seeing someone score those type of numbers. He's making the game look really easy right now.''
Murray State: Despite having extended scoring droughts, Murray State outshot Georgia from the field, 30.4 percent (17 of 56) to 29.8 percent (17 of 57).
Georgia: Freshman Mike Edwards had eight rebounds in 26 minutes after playing just seven minutes in the opener.
ON THE RISE
Yante Maten, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, had 10 rebounds against Murray State after he had 13 rebounds in Georgia's opener.
Gaines' 35-point performance tied him with former Georgia players Willie Anderson, Litterial Green and Trey Thompkins for the 15th-highest single-game scoring output in program history.
Georgia's Kenny Paul Geno scored only two points, but drew praise from coach Mark Fox for his all-around play. He also had seven rebounds, an assist, a block and two steals.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
''We were up two with four minutes to go and then Kenny Gaines caught fire and got three 3s in a row, and that just kind of hurt us real bad,'' Bryce Jones said.
Murray State vs. Milwaukee in the Gulf Coast Showcase on Monday.
Georgia vs. High Point on Wednesday.