Xavier Slams Georgia 70-56

The Xavier Musketeers (4-0) opened up the second half with a 35-8 run to send the Georgia Bulldogs (4-2) back to Athens with their second loss of the season.  Don’t let the 70-56 final score fool you – Xavier led the Dawgs 68-44 with just 3:19 remaining before pulling their starters from the game, allowing the Bulldogs to narrow the gap.

Georgia was only down 28-19 at the half, despite opening the game falling behind 10-0 to the Musketeers after 5 turnovers and 0 for 11 shooting from the floor.  The Dawgs were able to overcome the horrible beginning to keep the game within reach using a combination of good defense and bad Xavier offense.

After the intermission though, it was apparent that the X-Men were tired of toying around with Georgia as they used their superior athleticism and experience to sink the Dawgs in the half’s first five minutes.

Xavier was efficient on offense for most the night, knocking down 49% of their field goals and getting double-digit scoring from four different players (with center Kenny Freese leading the way with 12).

Georgia on the other hand was atrocious on offense, connecting on just 32.1% of their field goals and only 7 of 26 thee-point attempts.  Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led all Bulldog scorers with 14 points, but it took him making just 4 of 13 field goals to get that number.

The Bulldogs’ big men were unbelievably ineffectual on Friday night, combining for 13 points while going only 4 of 18 from the floor – with Donte Williams, Marcus Thornton, Nemanja Djurisic, John Florveus, John Cannon, Connor Nolte and Tim Dixon being the culprits.  Adding insult to injury, the Dawgs were out-rebounded by a 38-28 margin.

Georgia has lost to both of the ranked opponents they have faced so far this season (Cal and Xavier), and in both games the Bulldogs were relatively close until halftime.  Unfortunately though, both Cal and Xavier were able to go on unbelievable runs after the intermission to close out the Dawgs in each game.

Coach Mark Fox must find a way to keep this team more competitive for the full 40 minutes, especially when they are up against tougher competition.

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Georgia Faces Stiff Road Challenge at Xavier

The Georgia Bulldogs (4-1) continue their road trip tonight, making a stop in Ohio to take on the #12 Xavier Musketeers (3-0).  The Musketeers may be the toughest road assignment that the Dawgs have on their schedule (Kentucky included).  Xavier returns its top three scorers from a team that went 15-1 in the Atlantic 10 a year ago, earning them a trip to the NCAA Tournament (where they fell to Marquette in the first round).

The Musketeers’ backcourt is one of the best in the country, featuring senior Tu Holloway and junior Mark Lyons.  Tu Holloway was named to the 2011-12 John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List, and he’s living up to the hype so far this season averaging 16.5 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game.  Holloway is an NBA-type guard that can create shots for himself off the dribble, and he’s definitely not afraid to drive the ball into the paint.  Joining Holloway at the guard position is Mark Lyons, a prolific three-point shooter who is currently leading the Musketeers in scoring with 20.3 ppg, while knocking down an uncanny 53.8% of his shots from behind the arc.

On the inside, Xavier is led by mammoth senior center Kenny Freese, who is averaging 9.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 3.7 bpg.  For those of you that don’t remember Freese from the game a year ago, he stands at 7′ tall and weighs nearly 270 pounds.  Despite his tremendous size, Freese does move around the court pretty well, and he has a nice touch from about fifteen feet in.  Georgia‘s bigs are going to have their hands full trying to corral the Xavier center.

In the Bulldogs victory over Notre Dame, they rebounded well and knocked down shots from the perimeter.  If the Dawgs hope to stay close tonight in Cincinnati, they better plan on doing more of the same.

Georgia’s Gerald Robinson, Jr. and Vincent Williams will be given the daunting task of trying to slow down “Mr. All-Everything” Tu Holloway.  Actually, GR2 did an amazing job defending Holloway last year in Athens, holding him without a field goal until there were less than 14 minutes remaining in the game.  Holloway ended up with 18 points, but most of them came on free throws towards the end of the game when the Bulldogs were forced to foul.

Coach Mark Fox’s team took a nice step forward on Tuesday night, beating a decent Notre Dame squad after being handled the previous night by Cal.  This young group of Bulldogs is being forced to grow up quickly, and tonight they will face an extremely difficult test against an experienced, polished Musketeer team.