Wins aren't coming easy for the Georgia basketball team.
But as long as they are, Trey Thompkins won't complain, especially after victories like the one the Bulldogs secured against visiting UAB Friday night, 66-64.
In four of Georgia's five wins, the largest margin of victory has been by a scant three points.
But the way Thompkins sees it, the types of lessons the Bulldogs (5-2) are learning now will only help them later on in the year.
"It's teaching us how to play in tight games," Thompkins said. "I'm not speaking too far ahead, but if we plan on being in the tournament, that's what it is about, winning tough games, winning close games."
Friday's contest certainly qualified as that.
After leading 43-32 at the half, Georgia found itself trailing 59-58 with 2:06 to play.
But following a bucket by Thompkins to put the Bulldogs back in front, a steal by Dustin Ware gave Georgia another chance on offense which Jeremy Price later used to convert a pair of free throws and a 62-59 lead at the 1:06 mark.
UAB would close within one point with 45 seconds, but a bucket and two free throws from Gerald Robinson over the final 14.9 seconds pushed the margin to 66-61 before an uncontested 3-pointer by Jamar Sanders accounted for the final score.
"That was a really hard-fought game. I thought coming in that UAB might have been the best team that we have faced all year. They're very, very good and I think we beat a very good team," head coach Mark Fox said. "We knew they'd make a second-half run after we got off to a good start and they did do that. But we answered when our team was challenged late and I was real happy with that."
Thompkins gave the crowd of 7,253 some anxious moments during Robinson's basket with 14.9 to play when he was pushed from behind and landed hard on the Stegeman Coliseum court.
Trainers rushed to his side but after about two minutes, Thompkins was able to walk off under his own power.
Fortunately, Thompkins said the injury had nothing to do with the high ankle sprain that caused him to miss the Bulldogs' first three games.
"I'll be fine," Thompkins said. "It wasn't my ankle; I just landed a little on my hip. I was a little bit scared at first, but once the feeling started coming back, I knew I was good."
Thompkins finished with a team-high 20 points, although he scored just six in the second half and didn't get his first bucket of the final stanza with 7:12 to play.
Price chipped in with 14 points and Robinson with 13, while Travis Leslie scored just four points but pulled down seven boards.
"Give Travis credit," Fox said. "He really impacted the game on a defensive end tonight. That's progress for him."
The Bulldogs started the game quickly, getting six points from Thompkins to take a quick 10-4 lead.
Georgia later pushed its margin to 19-6 on the first of two 3-pointers by Sherrard Brantley, twice going up by as many as 15 points before setting for a 43-32 halftime advantage.
The Bulldogs out-rebounded the Blazers in the first half 23 to 10. In the second half, UAB out-rebounded Georgia 17 to 14.
"We had a poor start and just didn't play with the intensity and concentration that you need to play with when you go on the road," UAB coach Mike Davis said. "Georgia is a great team; they're the second-most talented team that we'll play all year. They have some horses."
UAB (6-2), which dropped a 69-66 decision at Arizona State and beat Arkansas 70-65 in double overtime, travels to Duke on Jan. 5.
Georgia returns to action next Tuesday at Georgia Tech.
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