After the Georgia Bulldogs (8-2) win over Arkansas State last Saturday, senior forward Chris Barnes felt like his team lacked a killer instinct.
“I think it’s a focus thing,” Barnes said. “We see that we’re up by 20, we get a little lackadaisical and start releasing our pressure on the team. We have to start holding them down. Once we put our foot on their throat, we have to keep them down.”
On Tuesday night, Georgia didn’t take its foot off High Point’s throat until the Panthers’ team bus had pulled out of Athens and was heading north up Interstate 85.
High Point came into the game with an 0-9 record against SEC schools, and the Georgia Bulldogs made sure that the Panthers left Stegeman Coliseum still in search of their first win (against an SEC team).
Georgia was able to build up a 34-24 lead going into the half despite not having Trey Thompkins for nearly 10 minutes due to foul trouble. The Dawgs were led offensively by Gerald Robinson, Jr. who scored 10 points before the break – he finished the game with 21 points and probably could have reached 40 if Coach Mark Fox hadn’t pulled him from the game with 11:46 remaining and his team up 58-32. GR2 was knifing through the Panther defense all night, getting nearly all his points off of lay-ups.
The Dawgs started the second half with a 7-0 run following back-to-back buckets inside by Thompkins, and then a jumper by Dustin Ware off of a Travis Leslie steal. High Point Coach Scott Cherry called a timeout to help his team regroup with the score at 41-24, but the route was already on.
Georgia’s second half defense matched the intensity of its first half defense and then some, holding High Point to just 14 second-half points and limiting them to 14.3% from the field. As a team, the Panthers shot just 20.7% from the floor on the game.
Big South Preseason Player of the Year, Nick Barbour, came into Tuesday night’s game averaging 16.8 points per game. However, Barbour was frustrated all night by relentless pressure from Georgia’s Travis Leslie and Marcus Thornton, and the junior only finished the game with 3 points on 1 of 9 shooting.
The only Panther player to reach double-figures was guard Shay Shine, who led his team with 15 points.
The Dawgs defense forced the Panthers into 19 turnovers, and Georgia converted those extra possessions into 25 points.
Georgia had its biggest “Block Party” of the season, tallying up 11 rejections as a team with Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes getting 3 apiece.
Offensively, Mark Fox’s team had another superb effort in efficiency, dishing out 16 team assists to just 6 turnovers. Georgia came into this game with a size advantage inside, and they exploited that advantage for 42 points in the paint. Trey Thompkins led all Georgia bigs with 15 points in just 19 minutes of play.
And once again Georgia shot it well from the floor, knocking down nearly 54% of their field goal attempts.
Mark Fox said before the game that he wanted to see his team play defense for 40 minutes – it’s safe to say that he got his wish. Even though Georgia was taking on a lesser opponent and expected to win, it was great to see the Dawgs treat the Panthers like an inferior opponent by blowing them out of the gym 85-38.
The Dawgs are now winners of five straight and will play one more game before Christmas Thursday night at Mercer.