Coach Mark Fox benched Charles Mann to start the game on Tuesday night in Chattanooga in an attempt to send a message to his junior point guard that his play against Minnesota – a game in which Mann had more turnovers (4) than points (0) – was unacceptable.
Mann, who did not stay off the floor for long, scored 16 points to go along with 5 rebounds, 5 assists and most importantly, just 2 turnovers.
And Mann didn’t even turn in the best performance of the night.
Offensively, Georgia was led by Kenny Gaines and Marcus Thornton, who scored 25 and 24 points, respectively, in UGA’s 86-55 drubbing of the Chattanooga Mocks, marking the Dawgs’ first road win of the season. For Gaines, tonight’s effort was a season high; Thornton’s 24 points eclipsed his personal best of 17 set earlier in the year.
Don’t look now, but Marcus Thornton is currently leading the Bulldogs in scoring at 14.7 points per game.
Georgia was incredibly efficient on offense in this contest, scoring 86 points – another season high – on a barrage of three-pointers and lay-ups. Coming into this game, UGA ranked 328th in the nation in three-point shooting, making less than 26% of its attempts from the perimeter. However, tonight the Dawgs hit 7 of their 11 shots from beyond the arc, with 5 of them coming from the hot hands of Kenny Gaines.
This game was tied at 10-apiece early in the first half, following a three from the Mocks’ Greg Pryor.
But Georgia responded immediately, going on a 10-0 run that gave UGA a 20-10 advantage after a lay-in by Neme Djurisic with 11:22 remaining in the half. From that point on, the Dawgs managed to keep Chattanooga at bay for the rest of the first half, taking a 39-32 lead into the break.
After the intermission, though, the Bulldogs totally took over the game.
The Mocks cut the UGA advantage to 44-35 following a three from Duke Ethridge, but then Georgia proceeded to go on a 13-2 run that saw the Dawgs bolster their lead to 57-37 with 12:36 left. For the rest of the night, UGA coasted, walking out of Chattanooga with the victory and snapping a two-game losing streak.
While the offense certainly stole the show this evening, Georgia’s defense was not too shabby either. The Dawgs limited the Mocks to just 31% from the floor, and only one UTC player finished the game in double-figures. Coach Fox used a mixture of man-to-man and zone defenses that kept Chattanooga off-balance for much of the night.
The Dawgs badly needed this win as the schedule is about to ramp up a bit before the start of conference play in January. This Sunday, Georgia welcomes a tough Colorado (4-1) team into Stegeman for an early 12PM tipoff.
Then the Dawgs have games against Seton Hall (currently undefeated), Mercer and at Kansas State.
While the Mocks are expected to finish the season in the top half of the SoCon, Mark Fox’s team desperately needs some wins against teams from power conferences. Georgia has looked good in its wins over Stony Brook, Troy, Florida Atlantic and Chattanooga; however, the Dawgs have appeared overmatched in their losses to Georgia Tech, Gonzaga and Minnesota.
Georgia should certainly enjoy tonight’s win on the bus ride back to Athens, but the Dawgs should feel as though they have something to prove in their game against the Buffaloes on Sunday.