November 12, 2010

Dawgs win ugly

Not much went right for the Georgia basketball team during Friday night's season-opener against Mississippi Valley State.

The Bulldogs were outrebounded by 10 and were outshot for the game 58.8 percent to 37.5. That wasn't all. The Delta Devils hit 16 of their 18 free throws and connected on 10-of-17 shots from 3-point range.

But somehow the Bulldogs still won, stealing a 72-70 victory before a Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 6,728.

"I thought we really got out-played. I was really disappointed in how we rebounded the ball and I was extremely disappointed in how we defended the 3. But I have to give their team credit. They made a lot of shots from the 3-point line that were contested. When they got hot, that really carried their team," Bulldog coach Mark Fox said. "We have a tough time rebounding the ball right now. We were outplayed. They started with the better spirit to open the game. Fortunately, we made enough good plays late to get the win, but this was a good game for our team. I think we can learn a lot."

It certainly beat the alternative.

Georgia trailed 37-36 at the half and watched the Delta Devils of the SWAC twice build leads as much as seven points, the final time coming with 3:35 on a basket by Terence Joyner for a 66-59 advantage.

Fortunately for the Bulldogs, senior Jeremy Price took it upon himself to will Georgia back into the game by scoring the next eight points to give Fox's squad its first lead of the second half, 67-66.

Mississippi Valley State regained a 68-67 advantage before a bucket by Travis Leslie and free throws by Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware gave the Bulldogs a 72-70 lead with eight seconds to play.

Ware missed his second free throw attempt, but a last-second shot by the Delta Devils missed its mark with Leslie grabbing the rebound enabling Georgia (1-0) to hang onto the win.

"It was pretty frustrating … they were just a good team and made a lot of shots," said Price, who finished with a game-high 20 points. "We were working hard on defense, but they just kept making shots. We just have to keep grinding and hopefully the other team will start to miss if we contest the shots. We just can't keep having these lapses on defense."

Fox said the Bulldogs can't keep getting buried on the glass, either.

Playing without Trey Thompkins, the team's leading scorer and rebounder from last year, Georgia lost the battle of the boards, 41-to-31.

The Bulldogs also turned the ball over 16 times.

"I credit their team for boxing out, but I don't think we have guys pursuing the ball like we need to," Fox said. "I think some guys aren't going to the glass as aggressively as they need to, but I think this is an area that we can improve."

Georgia's five starters - Robinson, Ware, Leslie, Connor Nolte and Price - each played at least 30 minutes, with Leslie scoring 16 points in a team-high 37 minutes of play.

Robinson was second behind Price with 19 points as he played a number of positions for Fox, including one stretch where he took over at the 4.

"That's something I've never done. Never," smiled Robinson. "I'm just 6-foot-1, but we've got to do what we have to do with Trey out of the lineup."

For Mississippi Valley State coach, Friday's opener was the first of 12 games, which includes a stretch of road contests against Indiana, St. Mary's, Butler, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Kentucky and Marquette.

"You know, we have enough, and I'm not shocked that we were in it. But we need to finish these types of games," Delta Devils coach Sean Woods said. "It all comes with maturity - but this will help us learn to finish. We need to play for 40 minutes, not 38."

Georgia returns to action Tuesday night when the Bulldog host Colorado.

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