The Georgia Bulldogs (2-4) put on a shooting clinic on Friday night in front of sparsely filled Stegeman Coliseum in a 54-38 win over the East Tennessee State Buccaneers.
The Dawgs connected on 63% of their field goal attempts, marking their best field goal percentage in a game this season (or last for that matter).
The Buccaneers showed Coach Mark Fox’s team a heavy dose of zone defense for the entire night, which the Bulldogs quickly figured out and exploited by getting the ball into the high post which allowed them to hit a number of backdoor cutters (Donte Williams).
ETSU actually jumped out in front of Georgia 11-10 after a three-pointer from freshman Lester Wilson with 12:13 left before the break. UGA responded with a 15-0 run that saw them take a 25-11 advantage with less than 5 minutes remaining till halftime. Georgia finished out the first half strong, taking a 31-13 advantage into the intermission, and the Buccaneers were never really able to recover from this deficit.
Twice in the latter part of the second half ETSU pulled within 11 points, and each time they were met with a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three-pointer that helped to bolster the Dawgs’ lead.
KCP, who finished with a game-high 13 points, also snagged 7 rebounds and dished out 4 assists to go with his timely three-point baskets.
The Bulldogs were extremely efficient on offense, dishing out a season’s best 21 assists to only 17 turnovers. Donte Williams, the beneficiary of many of those backdoor passes, chipped in 12 points, which mostly came in the form of thunderous baseline dunks. Georgia’s offense last night looked much more like the version of basketball that UGA fans enjoyed when Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie were still donning the Red and Black.
Even though the opposing team was undersized and missing its starting backcourt, it was encouraging to see how well the Dawgs handled playing against a zone defense. Much like the UCLA game, Georgia once again made a conscious effort to get the ball into the paint, which led to 28 points.
If this team is a work in progress, then maybe we are starting to see the beginnings of a turnaround after the dismal start that saw UGA drop consecutive home games to Youngstown State and Southern Mississippi.
I’m not so sure that the Georgia team from two weeks ago would have won last night’s contest quite so handedly.