"We've tried to play a tempo in the first quarter that will keep us in the ballgame so we don't have to exert so much energy in the second, third and fourth quarters trying to get back in the ballgame," Combs said.
Combs said Burgin set the pace in its 67-61 win over Garrard on Dec. 9, and he said the Lions couldn't allow that to happen again.
"We can't let them come in and play a slow game," Combs said.
Across the floor, Burgin coach Don Irvine said the Bulldogs couldn't permit a fast pace. This is the third straight game they have given up more than 70 points, and they've lost the last two.
"We were holding people in the 40s and 50s, and now we're letting them dictate the tempo and get into the 70s," Irvine said. "We just can't survive that way."
Garrard broke a four-game losing streak and stayed alive in the race for first place in the 46th District standings and the No. 1 seed for the district tournament.
Start of three district games in eight days for Lions
To tie for first, the Lions must win three district games in eight days, beginning with this game and including games Friday at Mercer County (4-1 district) and next Tuesday at Harrodsburg (3-2).
Burgin is locked into fourth place, and Irvine said he hopes the Bulldogs aren't locked into the bad habits they displayed.
"Tonight our play was a step backward," he said. "We had too many turnovers and not enough emphasis on team defense."
Irvine said many of the layups Garrard got were a reflection of Burgin's defensive lapses.
"They ran out on us, and we didn't get back on defense," he said. "We gave them just a lot of easy baskets, and we were working hard for ours."
Garrard shot 58.1 percent (18-for-31) in the first half and 51.9 percent (27-for-52) overall from the field. The Lions didn't fare as well at the free-throw line, where they were 12-for-30 overall.
"You would think that we don't practice 'em," Combs said.
Burgin got only four field goals in each of the first three quarters and shot 35.3 percent (18-for-51) from the field.
Garrard led 42-26 at halftime.
"It was a good effort on our part," Combs said. "We capitalized on some of the things they did wrong in the first half."
Spencer Crutchfield had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the first half, and he led Garrard with 18 points, 11 boards and seven assists. Brandon Leavell added 16 points and Sean Paul Leavell had 15 for the Lions.
Burgin, which got no closer than 12 points in the second half, got 14 points from Zack Gross, who was 6-for-21 from the field. But leading scorer Sean Bottoms (2-for-11) scored only six and center Joe Harris (3-for-3) had 10.
"We've got to get Joe more touches than that," Irvine said.
A bench player came up big for each team, as Bobby Wylie went 4-for-5 from the field and had 10 points for Burgin and Zach Doan had 10 points for Garrard.
Harris had 15 rebounds and Gross had 13 to help Burgin outrebound Garrard 41-32.
BURGIN (8-9) - Joe Harris 10, Daniel Howard 2, Zack Gross 14, Sean Bottoms 6, Josh Carey 4, Daniel Loane 2, Bobby Wylie 12.
GARRARD (8-9) - Sean Paul Leavell 15, Jake Cool 3, Spencer Crutchfield 18, Brandon Sebastian 1, Jared Prewitt 3, Zach Doan 10, Kent Johnson 3, J.T. Prewitt 2, Dan Leavell 16.