The Georgia Bulldogs proved that they can win in the SEC even when their star point guard is having an off day.
Charles Mann struggled mightily on Saturday against the Arkansas Razorbacks, dealing with foul trouble for most of the afternoon. Mann, who finished with 9 points, shot 2 of 10 from the floor, committed 5 turnovers and didn’t even score a field goal until there was 7:56 remaining in regulation.
The Dawgs stepped up in the absence of their leader and won this game with effort. Georgia was ferocious on the boards, grabbing 56 rebounds – 24 of which came on offense, leading to 22 second-chance points. UGA’s points on the offensive glass were huge in a game when Georgia managed to shoot only 31% from the field.
Things were beginning to look bleak for the Dawgs when the Hogs opened up a 41-34 lead with 15:57 left in the game and Charles Mann on the bench with 3 fouls. Georgia stepped up its defense over the next 12 minutes, holding Arkansas to just 2 field goals and 7 points. UGA reclaimed the lead for the first time in the second half on an athletic finish from Brandon Morris that put Georgia up 49-48 with 3:19 remaining.
Mark Fox’s decision to not bring Charles Mann back into the game at this point confused me, but I especially couldn’t believe that Fox didn’t bring Mann in when UGA had the ball with 52 seconds left in a tie game. Freshman J.J. Frazier held his own – scoring 5 points on an 0 for 6 shooting performance – but give me Charles Mann with the ball in his hands and a chance to win the game at the end.
Fortunately, the Dawgs played strong defensively and forced overtime with the score knotted at 52-apiece.
Georgia jumped on the Hogs quickly in overtime, taking a 59-52 lead with 2:22 remaining after an old-fashioned three-point play from Mann.
The Dawgs held on for the 66-61 home win, pushing their conference record to 3-1.
Kenny Gaines led all scorers on Saturday with 15 points, but the player of the game – in my opinion – was junior Marcus Thornton. Thornton produced the first double-double of his collegiate career, scoring 11 points and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds. He consistently kept balls alive on the offensive glass, and if he could ever start finishing better around the rim he might start scoring 15 points every night.
After two weeks of SEC play Georgia is in a three-way tie for second place with a home game against South Carolina on the horizon.