Georgia’s bench provided a major spark for the Dawgs in their 82-73 win over FAMU on Saturday night. Coach Fox got 42 points from his non-starters, with Neme Djurisic and Sherrard Brantley chipping in 21 and 9, respectively.
Djurisic’s 21 points marked a career-high in scoring for the sophomore from Montenegro, and this performance couldn’t have come at a better time for the slumping big man. In UGA’s previous five games against South Florida, Georgia Tech, Iona, Mercer and Southern Cal, Neme had scored a total of 21 points collectively. Tonight’s outbreak was long overdue, and Djurisic’s offense helped propel his team to a victory.
Georgia led the Rattlers for the entire game, with the lead generally staying above double-digits. In the first half, the Dawgs were able to sustain a red-hot shooting performance by the Rattlers, who buried 7 three-pointers before the intermission. Georgia matched FAMU from the perimeter, hitting 7 three’s themselves and opening up a 49-36 lead going into the break.
The Dawgs, however, were frigid on offense to begin the second half, mustering just 4 points in the first 8 minutes. After a pair of free throws by FAMU’s Onyekachukwu Odi, the UGA lead had been cut to only 6 points with 12:52 left.
Georgia responded immediately, though, with consecutive baskets off of offensive boards by Donte Williams and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and following another Williams lay-in the Bulldogs were back out in front 59-47 with 11:01 remaining.
The Rattlers continued to scrap and hang around, but the Georgia advantage stayed above 10 points for a majority of the game’s final 10 minutes.
The Dawgs’ 82 points marked the highest offensive output of the season by this team, surpassing the 78 points scored against Iona (though that game went into overtime – only 66 were scored in regulation). KCP and Brandon Morris both joined Neme in the double-figure scoring column, and Pope ended up just one rebound shy of his third double-double of the season.
The Rattlers were poised by guard Muhammad Abdul-Aleem, who netted 16 points to go along with 11 rebounds. While FAMU only shot 37% from the floor, their effort at the charity strip may have been their undoing, making only 12 of their 25 free throw attempts (if they hit 5 or 6 more this could have been a totally different ball game).
Senior Sherrard Brantley has now made his last 5 attempts from beyond the arc, going a perfect 3 for 3 tonight in Athens. On the season, Brantley is shooting a career-best 34.5% from the three-point line, which is much improved for a player that made only 28% of his attempts from the perimeter in his first two seasons as a Bulldog.
The win tonight over FAMU extends Georgia’s win streak to 3 games, pushing their record to 5-7. The Dawgs are winning games at home that they should be winning – Mercer, USC and FAMU. However, these victories should not be taken lightly by UGA basketball fans. Remember in November when the Dawgs were losing these types of contests to Youngstown State and Southern Mississippi.
Coach Fox’s team got out to a rocky start to begin the season, but this new lineup has the capability to win some conference games come 2013.