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January 4, 2013
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope admitted if someone had told him the Bulldogs would have committed 25 turnovers in Friday night's game against visiting George Washington, he doesn't think he would have felt good about Georgia's chances.
"Probably not," said the sophomore, moments after the Bulldogs overcame their mistakes to post a 52-41 win, Georgia's fourth straight victory before tipping off SEC play next Wednesday at Florida.
The final stat line made Mark Fox shake his head.
On one hand, the fact Georgia (6-7) held the Colonials (6-7) to 24.6 from the field (14 for 57) and outrebounded GW 39-31 was definitely a positive. But the 25 turnovers, to go along with another poor night from the free throw line (10 for 17), were enough to dampen the spirits of the Bulldog head coach.
"You look down and we hold them to 20-something percent (24.6 percent) from the field. I don't think they made a three and we won the rebounding battle," Fox said. "There were some nice looking things on that stat sheet and then you look further right to the turnover column and we had 25."
Holding George Washington to 0-for-12 from three-point range was able to brighten Fox's mood.
To find the last time a Georgia team held an opponent without a three-point bucket you have to go all way back to Nov. 26, 2004 when Nevada - coached by Fox - fell to the Bulldogs 58-47.
"That was my first road game as head coach. I remember that game vividly," Fox said. "We didn't make a three at Nevada that year because we were the second-worst three-point team in the country. We were, and we won the league and won an NCAA Tournament game."
George Washington coach Mike Lonergran said he felt coming in that Georgia's defense could cause some trouble.
"We knew that Georgia had a pretty good defense. They were struggling to score at times, but we failed to take advantage of that," Lonergran said. "I felt like we had a pretty good match-up with Caldwell-Pope, but we really struggled to score. Georgia did a good job of taking away our inside game and that threw off our rhythm. We went through a huge scoring drought and just weren't able to put together enough baskets to get back into the game."
Particularly down the stretch.
After leading 21-18 at the half, the Colonials found themselves tied with the Bulldogs at 37 with 7:21 to play, only to see Georgia end the game on a 15-4 run to close out the easy win.
"I thought in the first half we were just grinding through," Fox said. "We've been working hard but when it really mattered we got our energy back, got our spirit back and beat a good team."
"We're playing better than we were in the beginning of the season, we're coming together," Caldwell-Pope said. "Our chemistry is getting better, our defense is playing great."
But with SEC play getting underway next Wednesday at Florida, Fox knows his Bulldogs have to tighten up even more.
However, he believes the fact his young squad has had to play so many close games during the non-conference portion of its schedule, will only help the Bulldogs come conference time.
"That's good for us. Tight games are great for you in non-league play," Fox said. "I think our non-league schedule has been really good for this team. They've learned a lot about themselves. We dug ourselves a hole the start of the year, we did that to ourselves. We can get out of it but as I told them it's going to take two months to get out of it, but I do think our non-league schedule, as tough as it's been, has prepared us for league play. But we still have to play in one of the best leagues in America and we're going to have to be consistent as we get into it."