Credit Gerald Robinson Jr. for making Dustin Ware's a job a whole lot easier.
Last year, Ware was the Lone Ranger as far as directing Georgia's offense was concerned, averaging 35 minutes a game as the Bulldogs' primary point guard.
That's no longer the case.
As the Bulldogs (13-4, 2-2) get ready to host Mississippi State (10-7, 2-1) Saturday afternoon at 4:00 (SEC Network), Ware is taking advantage of his time share with Robinson Jr. at the point, something that appears to be serving both players well.
"Dustin's role really hasn't changed much. He's still playing the same minutes, give or take a minute here and there, but he's still running our team," head coach Mark Fox said. "His assist numbers are up a little bit and his turnovers are down, because he has help from Gerald to take some of the load off. They've co-existed very well together. They've become pretty interchangeable which has let us become a much more effective offensive team."
Fox isn't kidding.
Ware currently leads the SEC and ranks fifth nationally in assists/turnover ratio. He's committed just 17 turnovers in 17 games, including none in the past three contests despite averaging over 32 minutes. In conference play, Ware has an unworldly 10.0/1 ration through four league games.
"It's worked out great for all of us, senior forward Chris Barnes said. Last year guys could just key on Dustin. Now, with Gerald to take the pressure off, it's freed up Dustin to do a lot of things. As a result, our offense has a lot more balance.
"He's (Robinson Jr.) made my job a lot easier, Ware said. "He's made everyones job easier.
It sure beats what Ware had to do a season ago.
With Robinson not eligible due to the NCAA's transfer rule, Ware was forced to log his entire time as the teams point guard, with only true freshman Vincent Williams as his top backup.
Fox said it wasn't an easy position for Ware to be.
All the pressure (was on him). He had to handle the pressure, really all 35 minutes he played with just a freshman behind him who had never played, Fox said. Then playing alongside him was a former walk-on (Ricky McPhee) who wasn't a ball handler so it all fell on his shoulders. It was a big physical and emotional burden to bear.
But Robinson Jr's presence has changed all that.
In four short conference games, Robinson Jr. has shown the rest of the SEC that he's one of the more dynamic point guards in the conference, not only with his ability to dish and drive but as a threat to score from anywhere on the court (13.7 points per game).
As a result, that's freed up Ware to take on more offensive responsibility while giving him a break from his duties at point guard.
"When they trade back and forth, now they do it pretty naturally and that's what we set out to do, to make them interchangeable," Fox said. "It's a case now where you can have one on the break one time and two possessions later it's somebody else. They have a good understand of what each other can do. They're playing very well together."
NOTES: After starting the season 20-of-38 (52 percent) from the free throw line in non-conference play, Robinson Jr. has been on fire, going an incredible 21-of-22 (95.5 percent) in Georgia's four conference games. "We just made on change in his stance at the free throw line," Fox said. "He feels a lot more comfortable and is back in the groove."
After Tuesday's controversial loss to Tennessee, Georgia AD Greg McGarity made a call to the SEC league office to voice his concerns over the officiating, after center Brian Williams appeared to go over the back of Barnes for the basketball while putting up the winning shot in the Vols' 59-57 win. "He (McGarity) took the lead on that and he handled it, which I really appreciate," Fox said. "But we didn't play well enough to win, that's the bottom line."
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