NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Georgia coach Mark Fox doesn't know if he can recreate the magic from the last time the Bulldogs were seeded sixth in the Southeastern Conference tournament.
He told them to pack for a week anyway.
Trey Thompkins had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Georgia beat Arkansas 77-64 in the opening round of the SEC tournament on Thursday night.
"I'm sure they'll be excited to stay in Nashville a little while longer," Fox said.
The last time Georgia came in as the East Division's lowest seed, the Bulldogs won four games in four days to grab the 2008 tournament title.
Travis Leslie scored 21 for the Bulldogs (14-16), and Dustin Ware and Ricky McPhee both added 10.
Georgia took a 43-32 lead immediately after halftime on a 3-point play by Jeremy Price.
Arkansas' Mike Washington made all four free throws on back-to-back trips to the charity stripe to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 52-49 with 10:22 left, but Georgia scored the next six points.
"We understood that Arkansas is a good team, and they're a team that is able to make runs," Thompkins said. "So when they made their run, we stuck with it and we understood that, OK, they made their run. Now it's time for us to make ours."
Courtney Fortson scored 10 straight points to pull the Razorbacks (14-18) within six points with 4:48 left, but Arkansas wouldn't score for the next 4 minutes as Georgia pulled away.
The Bulldogs grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, nine more than Arkansas, and turned them into 19 second-chance points.
"Coaches told us to keep fighting, which we tried to do," Arkansas' Marshawn Powell said. "Georgia is very good. They have very good big men, and Trey Thompkins ... we just tried to contain him as best we could."
Washington finished with 20 points and Fortson added 16 for the Razorbacks, the No. 3 seed in the West Division.
The Bulldogs will face the East's No. 2 seed, No. 20 Vanderbilt, on Friday.
Georgia jumped out to a quick lead with a 12-2 run. Back-to-back layups by Leslie and Jeremy Price gave the Bulldogs an 18-8 lead, their largest of the half.
Arkansas twice cut Georgia's lead to one point. The Razorbacks pulled within 33-32 on a pair of free throws by Glenn Bryant with 3:05 before halftime. Georgia scored the last eight points before the break, including a deep buzzer-beating 3 by McPhee, to take a 40-32 lead into halftime.
Leslie scored 14 of his points in the first half, hitting 6 of 8 from the field, including one layup after rebounding his own missed free throw. Thompkins went to work in the second half, scoring 13 while hitting all five free-throw shots after the break.
Arkansas won the regular-season meeting 72-68 on Feb. 3. Georgia held a 15-point lead at halftime, but Fortson led a Razorbacks comeback, finishing with 27 points.
"Georgia played very well. Obviously well-coached, good players," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "They're getting better every day. They were just better than us tonight and especially in the last 3 minutes."
The game marked the end of Arkansas basketball play-by-play announcer Mike Nail's 28-year career. Nail, who covered three Final Four appearances and Arkansas' 1994 national championship, announced in August he would retire at the end of the season.