Charles Mann Jr. said he can thank Charles Mann Sr. for his ability to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line.
“He was a good basketball player coming up,” Mann Jr., Georgia’s sophomore point guard, said of his father who played professionally in Germany. “He played overseas, and I’m just a big guard so I kind of want to use my body. I’m not afraid of contact. I like drawing contact and getting contact. It’s just a part of my game.”
So much a part of it that Mann gets to the free-throw line more than any other player in the Southeastern Conference — 8.5 times a game — except for Auburn’s Chris Denson.
On Tuesday night, Tennesse stressed keeping Georgia away from the free-throw line and succeeded, especially keeping Mann off the charity stripe where he got just two attempts. Darius Thompson and Antonio Barton contained him in a 67-48 Bulldogs’ loss.
“He was the key for us going into the game,” Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin said. “He’s a guy that gets to the rim, one of the best I’ve seen as far as really attacking. He’s physical, he’s probably a legitimate 6-5 and 200 some pounds (listed at 210) as a point guard and he puts his head down and gets there.”
Georgia (14-11, 8-5 SEC) was held to season lows on 8 of 11 free throws against Tennessee.
That was the other end of the spectrum from a 97-76 rout of South Carolina on Jan. 22 when the Bulldogs set season-highs going 33 of 50 from the line.
Mann expects the Gamecocks (10-16, 3-10) will probably study the game film of how the Milton High product was defended before Georgia plays on the road today at 1:45 p.m. in Columbia, S.C.
“That won’t affect me,” said Mann, who leads Georgia with 13.5 and 3.0 assists per game. “I just had a bad game. I won’t have too many of them.”
Georgia coach Mark Fox saw it the same way.
“Charles, he just had a stinker,” Fox said of Mann’s five-point outing, his lowest scoring output since Dec. 2. “He didn’t play well on either end. He made some rotation errors defensively that he hadn’t made all year. He was probably due for a game where he didn’t play well and he didn’t, but he’s been a really good player for us and I’m sure he’ll bounce back.”
With Mann’s size, Fox said he thought that Georgia would be able to get him to the rim this season, where he’s drawn most of his fouls.
“That’s something that we planned on in the offseason and he’s taken full advantage of it,” Fox said.
Mann is averaging 3.2 more trips to the line this season than he did last season when he was fifth in the league.
“He’s bigger than all the other point guards he plays against,” Mississippi State coach Rick Ray said, “and that’s part of the reason he ends up getting to the free throw line so much.”
Mann is 139 of 204 from the line (68.1 percent) this season. He ranks tied for 20th nationally in free throw attempts.
“He’s a big strong kid and he has that ability to get that ball in the paint and break you down whether it be man or zone,” Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said.
Mann got to the line with 1.5 seconds to go and hit the game-winning free throw in a 61-60 victory against the Rebels a week ago.
Ole Miss switched a ball screen and Mann drew the foul.
“I don’t think he had any intention of shooting that ball,” Kennedy said. “It was all about the shot fake and leaning in and he made the play.”
Georgia averages 30.5 free throw attempts per game, tops in the SEC, and in all games this season ranks 36st in the nation. It is shooting 68.9 percent from the line in league games, which ranks ninth.
Mann grew up in New York City in Queens, playing basketball from about the age 5 and moved to Georgia when he was about 13. He considers himself a New York Knicks fan, but grew up liking Allen Iverson, who was about five inches shorter than Mann.
“He kept on attacking,” Mann said. “He didn’t care about the size difference. He had a lot of heart and just seeing that from him, it kind of rubbed off on me.”