Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s body language last night gave the impression that he was tired of all the losing and REALLY wanted a win – hand-clapping between possessions, celebrating with teammates during timeouts, etc.
Though KCP finished with a game-high 22 points, his defense may have been the ultimate reason that Georgia (7-10; 1-3) wound up on top on Saturday.
With the Dawgs up 61-56 and less than 90 seconds remaining, LSU had the ball and a chance to make it a one-possession game. Pope would have none of it however, taking the ball from the Tiger guard for his 6th steal of the evening. On the ensuing possession, Vincent Williams was fouled, made both free throws and UGA found itself leading 63-56 with only 50 seconds left. At this point, the game was out of reach for the team from Baton Rouge, and Georgia would walk out of Stegeman with a 67-58 win – their first SEC win of the season.
LSU came into this contest with a bit of a turnover problem – giving it away nearly 18 times a game in conference play – and Saturday was no different as the Tigers handed the ball to the Dawgs 21 times. UGA capitalized on LSU’s carelessness, converting those turnovers into 19 points.
In his post-game conference, Coach Mark Fox praised his team’s defense, which limited LSU to just 36% from the floor. The Tigers’ 58 points marked their second-lowest offensive output of the year thus far.
The UGA bigs had trouble containing Johnny O’Bryant III – who ended up with 16 points and 14 boards – but Georgia did manage to corral the LSU backcourt for much of the game.
For Georgia, the only other player to score in double-digits was junior Donte Williams, who chipped in 14 points, 5 rebounds and a blocked shot in what was definitely his biggest game of the year.
While getting off the snide and securing that first SEC win must feel really good to this UGA team, the game with LSU was not played flawlessly. Once again, Georgia struggled mightily to handle a full-court press, turning the ball over 16 times last night. The Dawgs host the #10 Gators in Athens on Wednesday in a game that will certainly feature a lot of full-court pressure from Florida.
The victory over LSU puts UGA in a four-way tie at 1-3 with South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
Georgia has a very difficult week ahead of them with the aforementioned match-up with the Gators and then a road trip to College Station to play Texas A&M. However, if the Dawgs could steal one of those games, they could put themselves in a position to get back to .500 since the next two would be against Auburn and Carolina.
Funny how a win can serve to restore hope.