ATHENS — Georgia coach Mark Fox has been "Mr. One Note" with his basketball team: Play hard from the start.
The Bulldogs kept Saint Louis from scoring a field goal for the first 91/2 minutes and rode that cushion for the rest of the game en route to a 64-56 win on Wednesday night.
"I have been preaching that sermon for three weeks," Fox said, "and they finally caught on. We came to the game with the right mental approach, and that allowed us to play comfortably in front."
Dustin Ware tied a season-high with 17 points and four teammates reached double figures as Georgia (4-2) withstood a late surge.
"We didn't feel we had any chance to win unless we played great defense," Fox said. "We knew they would play very well defensively, and our defense needed to be great."
The Bulldogs scored the first eight points of the game and led 13-3 before Femi John finally sank a finger roll with 10:37 to go in the first half. Georgia led 31-18 at the half and built a 40-20 lead on Ricky McPhee's 3-pointer with 16:57 to play.
Georgia led 12 with 4:41 remaining after Ware hit a runner. But a dunk by Willie Reed, a 3-pointer by Kwamain Mitchell and a steal and layup by Mitchell cut the margin to 55-50 with 3:11 to play.
Trey Thompkins then hit a turnaround jumper for Georgia and assisted Jeremy Price on a backdoor layup to put the Bulldogs up by nine with 1:53 to play.
Mitchell scored 16 and Reed added 14 points for Saint Louis (4-3).
"We have a lot of issues with inexperience and scoring," Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus said. "When you're the youngest team in the country and you don't know who's going to score, you don't play well."
Price added 14 points for the Bulldogs. Thompkins scored 12, Travis Leslie had 11 and McPhee added 10. No other Bulldogs scored.
"We finally locked in and played from the start," Thompkins said. "We are proud of how aggressively we played on defense and how much we paid attention to our game plan and how we executed."
Ware confessed that he was not that familiar with Majerus, who had a successful run at Utah from 1989-2004.
"Coach Fox could not stop raving about him," Ware said.