The Georgia Bulldogs used 13 second-half points by Charles Mann to pull away and topple the Appalachian State Mountaineers, snapping a four-game losing streak and pushing their record on the season to 2-4.
More importantly, though, the Dawgs are now 2-1 against the Southern Conference already this year. With games remaining against Chattanooga and Western Carolina, Coach Mark Fox has a legitimate opportunity to prove that his team could finish in the upper echelon of this season’s SoCon.
In regards to yesterday’s contest, Georgia looked fairly mediocre for the game’s first 20 minutes, allowing a 1-4 App State team to knock down 4 three-pointers before intermission – UGA took a narrow 33-32 advantage into the break.
The teams exchanged the lead a couple of times during the first minute out of the half, but then the Dawgs went on a 12-1 run that extended the UGA lead to 47-37 following a Neme Djurisic lay-up with 12:32 left.
The Mountaineers were never able to cut the lead by less than 8 points during the remainder of the game, and Georgia cruised to a 71-53 win.
Friday’s game was by far Georgia’s best defensive effort since the season-opener (against Wofford), limiting the Mountaineers to just 53 points on less than 33% shooting from the floor. After yielding the 4 three-pointers to App State in the first half, the Dawgs tightened up around the perimeter for the final 20 minutes and they did not permit another basket from beyond the arc.
UGA entered this game with the 255th worst defense in the country – allowing opponents more than 76 points per game – so Friday’s performance on the defensive side of the ball was much-needed for Coach Mark Fox’s team.
Georgia was led offensively by Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines, who scored 14 points apiece in this one. As mentioned, 13 of Mann’s 14 points came after the break, with the sophomore failing to notch a field goal until nearly 4 minutes had eclipsed in the game’s second half.
Mann did the majority of his damage on Friday from the free throw line, where he connected on 8 of his 10 attempts. Unfortunately his teammates were not as proficient from the line, making only 6 of their 13 shots from the charity stripe. As a team, UGA shot just under 61% on free throws, which is somewhat disappointing since Fox mentioned before the game that the coaching staff had really emphasized that segment of the game this week in practice.
In addition to Mann and Gaines’s scoring, Neme also chipped in 10 points, marking the fifth time this season that Georgia has had three or more players finish in double-figures.
Charles Mann continues to be a bright spot for the Dawgs – averaging 16.3 ppg on the year – and he has scored in double-digits in each of UGA’s first six contests. In addition, Mann is shooting nearly 8 free throws per game, which is the result of his ability to drive the ball to the rim on a consistent basis.
CMF may have the best point guard in the SEC on his team.