January 21, 2012

No moral victory

Say one thing for Georgia coach Mark Fox, he's not about claiming moral victories - either you win, or you lose.

So despite a whirlwind final minute that saw the Bulldogs nearly rally back from a 12-point deficit, his team's performance in a 66-63 loss to Ole Miss Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum left him none too pleased.

"We're immature competitors. I was just disappointed in how we played, I really am," Fox said. "We scratched to get back in it but we have to understand that we have to play every minute in this league. You can't take any minutes off."

Still, the Bulldogs almost pulled off a miracle.

Georgia trailed 62-50 with 52 seconds left to play when Sherrard Brantley rattled in a 3-pointer to bring the Bulldogs within nine.

Brantley's bucket was followed by back-to-back 3s by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, before Georgia twice pulled within two, including a layup with 12 seconds left on a layup by Gerald Robinson Jr.

Then with nine seconds left, Ole Miss' Terrance Henry hit the first of two free throws before the second rimmed out, giving Georgia one final chance - make that two.

Both Robinson and Nemanja Djurisic each had good looks at 3-pointers but each attempt bounced off the rim allowing the Rebels to secure the win.

"There's no second place," shrugged Robinson, who tallied 19 points on the night. "Almost doesn't count in basketball. We just lost."

Fox couldn't have agreed more.

"I didn't think we played with any urgency, I don't think we screened with any urgency, I don't think we rebounded with any urgency and I don't think we did anything with much authority, for 35 minutes of the ball game anyway," Fox said. "You've got to give Ole Miss' credit, but we didn't play well."

Rebel coach Andy Kennedy was left holding his breath.

"It's certainly not the way we would have drawn up finishing the game, but the bottom line is they got it done," Kennedy said.

The loss ruined what was otherwise a memorable game for Caldwell-Pope, who finished with a career-high 25 points, including a second half which saw him go 7-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

"He certainly bounced back from his performance the other night (against Tennessee) when I thought he didn't shoot the ball well but tonight he scored the ball and got some things done," Fox said. "We just weren't complete enough as a team."

The final numbers told the story.

Despite what would be a close final score, Ole Miss outshot the Bulldogs 48.9 percent (22-for-45) to 36.5 percent (23-for-63) for the Bulldogs. The Rebels also out-rebounded Georgia 43-32.

"They're a big, physical team and they crash the boards well," senior guard Dustin Ware said. "They get a lot of second-chance points and that can definitely hurt you, especially when you're trying to get back in the game."

Henry led Ole Miss (13-6, 3-2) with 25 points, followed by Nick Williams and Murphy Holloway with 12 each.

Georgia (10-9, 1-4) trailed 34-23 at the half.

Ole Miss shot 52 percent (13-for-25) compared to 29.6 percent (8-for-27) for Georgia, which only managed three points after Gerald Robinson's three-pointer with 9:20 on the clock tied the game at 20.

In fact, Henry almost scored the Bulldogs all by himself as he tallied 15 first-half points, all within the first 11 minutes of the game. Henry came into play averaging 10.6 points per contest.

Georgia did not help itself on the boards, either, as Ole Miss outrebounded the Bulldogs 21-11, including 16 to 8 on the offensive end.

NOTES: Georgia returns to action next week when the Bulldogs entertain second-ranked Kentucky. Gametime is set for 9 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.