Dawgs Drop Bears 72-58

Gerald Robinson, Jr. carved up the Mercer defense for most of Tuesday night, pouring in 20 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists, leading his Georgia Bulldog (7-5) team to a 72-58 win over the Bears in Stegeman Coliseum.  GR2 scored 12 points after the intermission, driving past the Mercer defenders as if their feet were stuck in mud.

It wasn’t all roses for Coach Mark Fox’s team on Tuesday though.

UGA‘s leading scorer Kentavious-Caldwell Pope picked up two quick fouls to start the game, making the Dawgs Pope-less for nearly 15 minutes in the first half.  Georgia was sluggish offensively from the start, connecting on just 3 of their first 15 shot attempts and trailing the Bears 16-8 ten minutes into the game.

Georgia‘s role players really picked up the slack in KCP’s absence, with Vincent Williams and Connor Nolte scoring 6 points apiece before the break.

Georgia came out of the halftime with a lot of intensity, going on an 14-3 run to begin the first five minutes of the second half.  The Dawgs’ man defense was tenacious for most of the game, and with only 8:39 remaining Georgia held a 57-38 lead over Mercer.  The Bears were unable to get the lead down to single digits again, and the Bulldogs picked up their 6th win of the season.

The Dawgs’ defense held Mercer, a team averaging 70+ points a game, to under 60 total points for the first time this season.

Mercer was led offensively by sophomore guard Langston Hall, who finished the game with 16 points – the only Bear to score in double-figures.  The Dawgs struggled to contain Mercer big man Daniel Coursey in the first half, allowing him to net 8 points in the paint before the intermission.

Unfortunately for the Bears, Coursey picked up his 4th foul early in the second half, sending him to the bench and reducing Mercer’s inside presence.

Williams and Nolte both finished the game with 11 points (tying a career high for Connor), providing Georgia with some much-needed scoring on a night that saw KCP end the game with only 8 points on 3 of 10 shooting from the floor.  Vincent Williams has really developed into a steady player for Coach Fox, and his field goal and three-point percentages are quite stellar, sitting at 51.4% and 38.9%, respectively.

The Dawgs had another nice shooting night from the perimeter, canning 8 of their 18 three-point attempts.

Most importantly, Georgia won the rebounding battle 41-34, with 16 of them coming on the offensive glass.  Donte Williams and KCP led the Dawgs with 8 and 6 boards, respectively.

Those of you who had the opportunity to see the game were treated to a couple of offensive moves by Bulldog players that may never be duplicated again from now until the end of time.  In the first half, Georgia forward Marcus Thornton crossed over a Mercer defender from the wing, drove to the basket and finished with a smooth lay-in over another defender.  Despite Thornton’s struggles offensively so far this season, I do appreciate his efforts at securing loose balls in the paint on both offense and defense.

The other offensive anomaly came in the first half as well, when rarely-used freshman forward Tim Dixon banked a jumper in off the glass from about 18′ out (unfortunately for Tim his second shot attempt of the game touched only glass).

All and all though it was another nice win by this Georgia team.  The Bulldogs get Furman in Athens on Friday night, giving them a chance to extend their win-streak to three games.

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Georgia returns to Athens to take on Mercer

Tonight the Georgia Bulldogs (5-5) will take on the Mercer Bears (7-4), a team that the Dawgs had to rally to beat in Macon a year ago.  In last season’s game between these two squads, the Bulldogs overcame a late-game deficit to walk away with a 56-53 victory.

Despite losing their top three scorers from last year’s team, this group of Mercer Bears has learned how to score the basketball, averaging nearly 71 points per game.  The Bears enjoy shooting the three ball, tossing up almost 21 attempts from beyond the arc, where they are making just under 34% of those shots.

Mercer is fresh off of a tough 80-77 overtime road loss to 9-1 Seton Hall, which I imagine can only add extra motivation to the Bears hopes of stealing a win tonight in Athens.

The Bears leading scorer is sophomore Langston Hall, who is pacing his team with 13.4 ppg and 3.9 apg.  The former Chamblee High School standout is tall for a point guard at 6’4″, and he has a nice little stroke from the outside, where he is hitting over 36% of his three-point attempts.

In the paint, Mercer is led by senior Justin Cecil and junior Jakob Gollon, who are averaging 11.5 ppg and 10.7 ppg, respectively.

The Bears share a common opponent this season with the Bulldogs – South Dakota State.  Mercer lost to the Jackrabbits 74-61 in Macon back in November, one week after Georgia had beaten SDSU 72-61 in Athens.

The Bulldogs are returning to Stegeman after a 63-59 come-from-behind victory at Southern Cal last Saturday night, and I am interested to see how this team handles a little bit of success.  The game tonight against Mercer is by no means a pushover, and if the Dawgs fall back into some of their bad habits that have haunted them this season – scoring droughts, lackluster perimeter defense and poor rebounding – things could certainly get interesting in the Steg.

In Georgia’s victory over USC, the Bulldogs were only able to secure 3 offensive rebounds.  The main thing that I would like to see tonight (besides a UGA win of course) is a little fire and a lot more effort from the Dawgs’ bigs in attacking the boards after Georgia’s field goal attempts.