February 9, 2013

Another bruising win

It's almost getting to the point where you need helmets and shoulder pads to play college basketball these days.

According to Georgia head coach Mark Fox, the game is more physical than it's ever been before. While that may or may not be a good thing, at least the Bulldogs seems to be adjusting to the style after grinding out a 52-46 victory over Texas A&M Saturday afternoon for the team's fifth straight win.

"It's a national story about how physical the game is getting and I think you saw good evidence of that today," Fox said. "Every coach in American knows that if you can be more physical, then why don't you be? So as coaches, we're teaching that. We're guilty of doing that. We're guilty of teaching our team to be physical. Other teams are guilty of that. But I'm going to stay guilty of that until they make the other team change, too."

But as long as the Bulldogs (12-11, 6-4) continue to win, Fox probably won't complain too much.

To find the last time Georgia won five games in a row, you have to go all the way back to 2001, something senior guard Vincent Williams said is due to everyone finally becoming comfortable with what Fox is attempting to teach.

Georgia entertains Alabama Tuesday night (9 p.m., ESPNU).

"We're taking it one game at a time as we get these wins," Williams said. "We just need to keep practicing, come back and get ready to fight again on Tuesday. We're starting to see how good we really can be."

What made Saturday's win even more amazing that it came without much offensive contribution from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Caldwell-Pope, who had averaged 20.5 points in Georgia's previous six games, was held to a season-low 10 points - all on free throws - as the sophomore attempted just three shots, making none.

"It was just one of those nights when I wasn't feeling it good," Caldwell-Pope said. "It was just one of those nights."

In more ways than one.

As a team, Georgia converted just 12 of 37 field goal attempts all night, the fewest since making 12 against Vanderbilt in 2005. The 38 field goal attempts were the fewest since going 20 for 27 against Virginia Tech in 1996.

The Aggies (14-9, 4-6), who lost to Georgia two weeks ago in College Station 59-52, were even worse.

Like Georgia, Texas A&M only made 12 field goals, although the Aggies attempted 50 to finish the game a mere 24 percent from the field.

"We have to make shot. We have to put the ball in the goal," Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said. "We had opportunities to score and we didn't do it, and Georgia's defense had a lot to do with that."

Leading scorer Elston Turner could feel Caldwell-Pope's pain.

Turner, who scored 40 earlier this year in a win at Kentucky, only scored 13 for the Aggies going 2-for-14 from the field.

The physical nature of the game had something to do with that as Georgia and Texas A&M were whistled for a combined 47 personal fouls.

Djurisic scored 13 points to lead Georgia, which led by 11 points with 1:01 left.

But the game was not over yet.

Following a pair of turnovers that Texas A&M used to climb within 50-42, Caldwell-Pope was called for a personal foul and then a technical foul with 20 ticks remaining.

Fabyon Harris converted both of his free throws due to the technical, followed by Turner who also sank a pair as the Aggies closed to 50-46 with 20 seconds left.

But the Aggies got no closer as Caldwell-Pope redeemed himself with a pair of free throws with 17 seconds to account for the final score.

There was one more bit of drama just prior to the final buzzer as after a scrum for the ball, both benches nearly emptied before order was restored.

Georgia jumped out to a 25-16 lead, despite just two point from Caldwell-Pope, who was seemingly met with double-teams by the Aggie defense every time he touched the ball.
Fortunately, for the Bulldogs, others were able to their part.

Seven different Georgia players scored the first half, including Djurisic who tallied eight for the Bulldogs who jumped out to an 11-1 lead.

The closest TAMU got to Georgia was six points on three different occasions and trailed by 11 with 33 seconds left until Turner converted 2-of-3 free throws to close within nine.
Texas A&M shot just 18.2 percent (4-of-22) compared to 42.1 percent for the Bulldogs (8-of-19).

NOTES: Williams lost a contact after taking a shot in the game's first two minutes and played with just the one that remained the rest of the night. … Texas A&M's 46 points is the fewest a Georgia team has allowed since 2/19/05 vs. Auburn (UGA won 57-45). … Caldwell-Pope has scored in double figures in every game this season. Interestingly enough, tonight he scored 10 points without making a field goal, going 10-for-10 from the free throw line. It's the first game of his career that he hasn't scored from the field. … Djurisic led the team with 13 points. It's the third time in his career that he has led the team in scoring. … Saturday's attendance of 7,380, today's game was the highest-attended of any this season.