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.