ATHENS, Georgia (Ticker) -- Coach Jim Harrick is known for devising a rigorous schedule, but Saturday was an exception for Georgia.
Jarvis Hayes scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half to lead the 16th-ranked Bulldogs to an 87-71 victory over Belmont, an Atlantic Sun Conference school in its third year as a Division I member.
Georgia (1-1) lost its season opener to fourth-ranked Texas, 77-71 on November 15 at New York and was expected to rout Belmont, which was previously 0-10 against Southeastern Conference opponents.
However, the Bulldogs were only ahead by three points early in the second half before breaking open the game with a 20-2 run. Hayes highlighted the spurt with nine points.
Junior forward Chris Daniels, who missed the loss to Texas while serving a one-game suspension, had 16 points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes for Georgia. A starter in 31 of 32 games last season, Daniels was suspended by the NCAA for playing in an unsanctioned game in his hometown of Albany last summer.
"He's (Daniels) an integral part of our team," Harrick said. "He gives us another guy to play inside and is probably the best frontline defender we had."
But Georgia had problems defending 6-8 junior forward Adam Mark, who had 29 points on 13-of-19 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds for Belmont (1-2).
Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Belmont lost at Notre Dame and beat Brown in the Guardians Classic tournament at South Bend, Indiana last week.
"I liked our mentality coming into the game," said Belmont coach Rick Byrd. "We came out ready to play and I am pleased with that. Georgia did not get after us defensively like I thought they would."
Mark scored 16 points in the first half as Belmont hung close, trailing just 40-35 at intermission.
"They did a lot of good things to us in the first half," Harrick said. "Sometimes you start a little bit slow, but overall it was a pretty good game."
A pair of free throws by Adam Sonn brought the Bruins within three points 32 seconds into the second half. But Georgia went on a 9-2 run as Hayes converted a 3-pointer and a short jumper.
After Brian Collins connected on a 3-pointer to pull Belmont within 49-42, Georgia held the Bruins to one basket over the next 7 1/2 minutes in a 20-2 run.
Hayes, a preseason Southeastern Conference first team selection, highlighted the spurt with two layups, a 3-pointer and a jumper in the lane, opening a 69-44 lead for the Bulldogs.
Damien Wilkins, a transfer from North Carolina State, scored all nine of his points in the second half for Georgia.
In each of the past two seasons under Harrick, Georgia's schedule has ranked in the top 10 in degree of difficulty. The Bulldogs will play their next four games on the road, beginning November 27 at Georgia Tech and concluding December 7 against California.
"We have some games that will test us on the road and then we play Gonzaga at Philips (Arena) on December 15," Harrick said.
Sonn and Collins each had 11 points for Belmont.
Ezra Williams, who finished with 15 points, and Daniels each hit 3-pointers to start the game for Georgia. But the Bruins settled down quickly and took a 10-9 advantage after a 3-pointer and a short jumper in the lane by Mark.
Belmont held its last lead at 27-26 on a basket inside by Mark with 6:37 left in the half before Georgia went on a 14-4 run.
Daniels capped the spurt with a basket in the lane, giving Georgia a 40-29 lead. But Mark and Steve Drabyn each hit 3-pointers in the final 1:15 of the half for Belmont.