November 11, 2011

Dawgs capture opener

In many ways, Friday night's season-opener against Wofford was typical of what you see from teams as young as Mark Fox's Georgia Bulldogs.

There were some good points, some bad ones, moments of fatigue and lapses in concentration.

But despite all that, Georgia's 62-49 win over the two-time defending Southern Conference champion Terriers provided just the kind of start the Bulldog head coach was hoping for.

"That's a good opening game for us. We played against a very sound team, a team that's been to the tournament as you guys know for a couple of years," Fox said. "We knew we'd be forced to play at both ends and forced to play for 40 minutes. It was a great experience for our team."

Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope lead the way with 15 points, 13 coming in the first half, followed by Dustin Ware with 14 and Gerald Robinson Jr. with 11.

Brad Loesing - the lone returning starter from Wofford's NCAA team of last year - led three Terriers in double-figures with 13.

Leading 30-21 at the half, Wofford closed within five points with 6:09 to play but would get no closer. That's because freshman Nemanja Djurisic - who did not play the first half - followed a slam with a layup to put Georgia up 51-43 at the 4:51 mark.

The Bulldogs' lead grew to as many as 15 points before settling for the 13-point win after a strong second half which saw Georgia outrebound Wofford 26-14 in the second half after the Terriers won the battle of the boards 24-14 in the first.

Georgia shot 33.9 percent with Wofford slightly better at 34.6.

"The first half we just had but one turnover, but we're not finishing plays at the percentage I want us to. But I didn't expect us to be a thing of beauty with as many new pieces as we have offensively," Fox said. "Our defense, I thought, was pretty sound for most of the game, I wasn't real wild about it until the last half of the second half just because we got a little bit fatigued in our concentration, but it's a win and certainly again a good experience for our team."

The game certainly got off to an odd start as Caldwell-Pope (13), Ware (8) and Robinson Jr. (9) were the only Bulldogs who scored in the first half as the team's front-court only attempted four shots, missing each one.

"That's just kind of the way it went," Ware said. "Coach (Fox) preaches to us to be aggressive; we were just trying to get the game jumpstarted."

Still, it was not quite the kind of ratio Fox was hoping to see.

"The first half we were excited, we were three-point happy, we shot 15 threes in the first half," Fox said. "If you notice the first possession the second half the ball went inside. We got out-rebounded terribly in the first half, but in the second we won the battle and ended up winning it for the game."

Donte Williams led the Bulldogs with 13 rebounds.

For Caldwell-Pope, his first basket didn't come until the 13:36 mark in the first half, but there was soon more to come as the touted freshman finished the first half with 13 of his 15 points.

"It was a big relief (his first basket)," said Caldwell-Pope, who went 5-of-12 from the field, including 2-of-7 from three-point range. "I was nervous, again, but after I got that first basket, then it was good. I just haven't o play my game. I have to be patient and kind of let it come to me."

NOTES: Freshman Jay Rome, a tight end on the Bulldog football team, dressed out with the basketball squad for Friday's opener. He did not get in the game. "He's a good player. He's got a big body, and he can really help us out down low," Robinson Jr. said. "We're excited about him playing." … Senior Connor Nolte did not dress out after aggravating a hamstring. The injury is not thought to be serious. … Djurisic finished with eight points after not playing in the first half. Djurisic started last week's exhibition opener against Morehouse, but did not start Friday because according to Fox, "(Marcus) Thornton and Williams were better in practice." … Georgia returns to action Sunday when the Bulldogs host Bowling Green at 6 p.m.

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]