Kentavious Caldwell-Pope must not want to relinquish last week’s SEC Player of the Week award because after tonight’s 24-point performance in Knoxville he is well on his way to claiming it again.
Pope played magnificently on Wednesday night for his team, burying 5 of 7 three-pointers – all of which came when Georgia’s lead was just 5 points or less.
In the game’s final two minutes, with Tennessee trailing by only 3 points, KCP was as poised as ever. The sophomore calmly scored 5 unanswered points, including a clutch three-pointer with a Vols’ defender in his face to put Georgia up 66-58 with only 51 seconds remaining. Those points were the nail in UT’s coffin, and the Dawgs would head back to the locker room (singing all the way) with a 68-62 SEC road victory – their third of the season.
While KCP was the main storyline for the Bulldogs on Wednesday, Georgia also got significant contributions from guards Vincent Williams and Kenny Gaines, who chipped in 10 and 12 points, respectively. Both of these guys also made big field goals down the stretch with less than 4 minutes left that helped the Dawgs maintain their advantage over Tennessee (Gaines’s baseline jumper at the 2:37 mark served to ease the memories of his back-to-back first-half bank shots).
Even though Tennessee’s star players – Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes – managed to score 17 and 16 points, respectively, the UGA defensive pressure for much of the night was quite strong. The Dawgs held the Vols to just 3 of 11 shooting from beyond the arc, and they forced Coach Martin’s team into 13 turnovers (11 of which came in the first half).
Georgia began the game white-hot, nailing 7 of their 13 three-point attempts before the break. On the evening, the Dawgs finished with 11 three’s, their highest output of the season from beyond the arc.
The victory this evening puts the Dawgs’ overall record at an even 11-11, and they have now gone over the .500 mark in SEC play with a 5-4 record. This win is UGA’s fourth in a row in league play, which is something that hasn’t been done since 2003, under coach Jim Harrick. Something tells me that Coach Fox’s team managed this streak legitimately, though.
Georgia is tied with Arkansas for six place in the conference, and with the way this team is playing and improving a 10-win SEC season does not sound nearly as out of the question as it might have a month ago.