Dawgs pick up a 62-53 road win in College Station

In last Saturday’s win at home against Tennessee, Kenny Gaines and Charles Mann combined for 11 turnovers.

Tonight in College Station it was pretty clear that UGA’s veteran duo was looking to make amends.  In a critical possession late in the game with Georgia leading by 4, Mann made a heady fake that drew Gaines’s defender towards the top of the key, leaving Kenny wide open in the corner.  Mann found Gaines, who promptly buried the three-pointer, sealing the UGA victory.

Gaines, who hadn’t finished in double-figures in three games, led all Georgia scorers with 15 points.  Mann chipped in 14 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists, and maybe most importantly – zero turnovers.  Charles Mann has not lived up to preseason expectations so far this year, but his play tonight helped to carry his team to a win.

After coughing the ball up 20 times to the Vols in Athens, Georgia committed just 7 turnovers against the Aggies, who gave it away 13 times themselves.

The Dawgs began the game shooting it well from beyond the arc, hitting 4 of their first 9 three-pointers.  However, over the next 30 minutes UGA would hit only 2 of 15 from the perimeter, and were it not for the improved ball security and a 75% mark from the line, the outcome of this contest may have been different.

The Aggies were led offensively by Alex Caruso and Daniel House, who scored 20 and 14, respectively.

Georgia showed an incredible amount of poise down the stretch in this game.  Things were looking bleak for the Dawgs when A&M tied the game at 43-apiece on a bucket by Caruso with 10:13 left – Kenny Gaines was on the bench with 4 fouls and the Aggies were already in the bonus.  But Georgia showed a lot of composure, going on an 8-0 run that found them with a 51-43 lead following a layup by Cam Forte with 6:46 left.

Tonight’s win was huge for Georgia, lifting their SEC record to 7-4 and 16-7 overall.  The Dawgs are fourth in the league standings (for now), and they will take on Auburn this Saturday inside Stegeman Coliseum.

Speaking to a courtside reporter after the final horn, an utterly hoarse Mark Fox, who spent nearly the entire second half hollering at the officials, could barely muster, “We just defended.  We defended and made our free throws.”

CMF deserves a tall glass of water after this one.

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Georgia snaps losing streak with win over Vols

Georgia managed to overcome 20 turnovers on Saturday to eek out a 56-53 home win over the Tennessee Volunteers.  The Dawgs were careless from the opening tip, committing 5 turnovers in the game’s first 5 minutes, and the sloppiness persisted throughout the afternoon.

UGA appeared in total control after J.J. Frazier hit a three to put his team up 51-42 with only 7:16 left in the game.  But Georgia couldn’t close the door, and after handing the ball back to the Vols on consecutive possessions the Dawgs found themselves leading by just 3 points with 30 seconds left.  Tennessee actually had a chance to tie the game in the waning moments, but Josh Richardson’s three point attempt glanced off the side of the backboard and time expired.

Fortunately, Georgia shot the ball very well on Saturday, hitting 55% from the floor and nearly 44% from beyond the arc.  Due to the turnovers, Tennessee took 18 more field goal attempts than the Dawgs – if Georgia had had an off shooting day they would have likely lost this one.

Frazier, Neme Djurisic and Charles Mann all finished with 10 points.  Frazier scored all his points after the break, and his 3 three-pointers were crucial in helping the Dawgs build a lead in the second half.

Kenny Gaines had just 7 points, making only 3 of his 9 shots.  Gaines (5) and Mann (6) combined for 11 of the team’s 20 turnovers, which is not exactly the type of ball security Coach Fox expects from his veteran backcourt.

This win marked Coach Mark Fox’s 100th as UGA’s coach, and it broke a two-game SEC skid. Marcus Thornton played well in his first game back, scoring 8 points and nabbing 4 rebounds.  Since Tennessee stayed in a zone the entire 40 minutes, Thornton never really got the opportunity to set up on the block and receive the ball.  However, Thornton did not show any signs of rust, and he had a couple of nice finishes around the rim.

The Dawgs are now 15-7 overall and 6-4 in conference, tying them with LSU for third place.  UGA’s next game is Wednesday night at Texas A&M, a team that has won 7 of its last 8 SEC games.  One of the Aggies’ three losses came at home to Kentucky, where they pushed the Cats to double-overtime before falling 70-64.

Georgia’s definitely going to have its hands full in College Station.

Georgia’s upset bid at Kentucky comes up short

The Georgia Bulldogs had two moments in tonight’s game against the #1 Kentucky Wildcats in which they could have easily laid down and given up.

The first one came right out of the gates, when the Cats opened up an 11-1 lead before this game was even 4 minutes old.  At this point, Kentucky had made more field goals than UGA had even attempted.  Yet, Georgia got 5 quick points from Neme Djurisic and found itself trailing 11-6 with 15:11 to go before the break.

Another point in this game when I thought UGA might be finished was during the initial minutes right out of halftime.  Kentucky, who held a 42-27 lead at the intermission, went up by 18 points after a three-pointer by Andrew Harrison.  But the Dawgs responded with an 11-3 run that saw them cut the score to 50-40 following a layup by Kenny Gaines with a little over 15 minutes remaining.

Georgia actually had a chance to get within a possession with a little over 9 minutes left in the game after Yante Maten buried a jumper from the top of the key, cutting the Kentucky lead to 56-49. The Cats then went scoreless for over 4 minutes, but UGA couldn’t capitalize, turning the ball over once and missing two field goals and a free throw.  Eventually, UK’s Devin Booker broke free on a break for a layup that put his team up 58-49 with 5:44 remaining.

The nail in the coffin came when Karl-Anthony Towns hit a hook shot with only 1:36 left to send the Cats up 65-58.  Kentucky would end up winning 69-58 by the time the final horn sounded.

For so many reasons, Georgia, who entered this game as a 19-point underdog, had no business making this a two-possession game in the contest’s closing minutes.  For one, Kentucky has nearly as many McDonald’s All-Americans as UGA has scholarship players.  Second, the Dawgs were on the road once again without their leading scorer and rebounder, Marcus Thornton.

And even though UGA’s backcourt of Kenny Gaines, Charles Mann and J.J. Frazier combined for only 20 points, making only 5 of their 22 attempts from the floor, Georgia still hung around in Lexington and made this one competitive.

The Dawgs’ frontcourt shined on Tuesday, with Neme leading his team with 17 points to go along with 7 rebounds.  Yante Maten played arguably his best game of the year, scoring 13 points and grabbing 9 boards – just missing his first career double-double.

Kentucky was led offensively by Andrew Harrison, who netted 23 points on the night.

All silver linings aside though, Georgia’s SEC record now stands at 5-4, putting them in a tie with Tennessee for 4th place in the league.  The Dawgs will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak this Saturday when they host the Vols in Athens for a noon tip.

Let’s hope that Marcus Thornton is cleared to play because UGA is back in a “must win” situation.