Georgia‚Äôs 30-point lead at the half gave the men‚Äôs basketball team plenty of room to finish Monday night‚Äôs game with an 87-56 victory over Chattanooga at Stegeman Coliseum.¬†
Georgia (3-4) started out its matchup with Chattanooga (3-6) shooting 59.4 percent from the field in the first half. Junior forward Nemanja Djurisic led the Bulldogs in scoring the period with 14, while sophomore Kenny Gaines added nine.
Gaines got Georgia on the board just 18 seconds into the game when he knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Bulldogs out in front. Georgia not only got out to a hot start offensively, but defensively as well.
‚ÄúWe played really well in the first half, especially defensively,‚Äù said Georgia head coach Mark Fox. ‚ÄúI thought we came in with a good approach, a good plan and really executed it really well in the first half.‚Äù
After the first official timeout, Juwan Parker extended the Bulldogs‚Äô lead to 23-9 with a layup assisted by Djurisic. Parker finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists. Distributing the ball is an area Georgia has focused on recently.¬†
‚ÄúThat was one of our deficiencies; we weren‚Äôt getting enough assists,‚Äù Parker said. ‚ÄúMoving the ball, getting everybody involved; it really helps.‚Äù
Djurisic finished the game with 14 points and five rebounds. Georgia as a team outrebounded Chattanooga 51-38. Whether that was a result of size or effort, Djurisic said it was a sign of much-needed improvement.¬†
‚ÄúI think we have to improve the rebounding, playing together, playing unselfish like we did tonight,‚Äù Djurisic said. ‚Äú(We‚Äôre) just doing a lot of things we didn‚Äôt do in the past tournament we had.‚Äù¬†
It was in the final 10 minutes of the first half that Georgia began to gain its unstoppable momentum. Chattanooga, however, experienced a different situation. The Mocs went from the 10:55 mark until the 5:52 mark without scoring a single basket. This gave the Bulldogs a chance to jump out to a 36-15 lead. By that point, it was all but too late.¬†
‚ÄúI was concerned, ‚ÄòWould we play well with the lead?‚Äô,‚Äù Fox said. ‚ÄúI thought in the first half we played the back end of the first half pretty well with the lead.‚Äù
Georgia carried that momentum into the locker room at halftime with a 47-17 lead thanks to Parker‚Äôs 3 at the buzzer.¬†
The Bulldogs had no problem carrying their first half offensive success over to the second half, either. Georgia got out to an early start with a layup from Brandon Morris, assisted by Cameron Forte to put the Bulldogs up 49-17 just 20 seconds into the second half.¬†
Forte got his own chance to score a couple of minutes later when Gaines found him streaking to the basket for a layup to put the Bulldogs up 53-17 with 17:44 left to play. Forte finished the game with eight points, while Gaines finished with 10 and four assists.¬†
Chattanooga showed some effort with 14:39 left to play as Gee McGhee hit a layup followed by a 3-pointer from Eric Robertson to cut the Bulldogs‚Äô lead to 56-28.¬†
The large lead gave a few of Georgia‚Äôs younger players a chance to get in the game. Freshman guard J.J. Frazier found his way to the hole for a layup to put the Bulldogs up 69-38 with 9:37 left on the clock. Fellow freshman Kenny Paul Geno also got himself on the board with a made free throw at the 7:23 mark and a 3 with just under seven minutes left in the game to give Georgia a 77-43 lead.¬†
‚ÄúThe second half we were able to get a lot of guys time that they needed,‚Äù Fox said. ‚ÄúA little disjointed rotation there, but a really good night for us.‚Äù
John Cannon found his stroke in the second half, too. The sophomore out of Burnsville, N.C., found the basket on back-to-back possessions to give Georgia an 81-45 lead with 5:15 left to play in the game.¬†
Frazier‚Äôs acrobatic layup may have been the highlight of the game‚Äôs final four minutes. He put his stamp on his minutes on the floor with a soaring lay-in from the middle of the lane to give Georgia an 83-49 lead. Frazier and the Bulldogs had no problem sealing the victory after that. It was a night on which Georgia could seem to do no wrong offensively.¬†
‚ÄúWe try to emphasize playing more team basketball instead of looking for your shot first,‚Äù Gaines said. ‚ÄúI feel like we were doing a pretty good job of that. We‚Äôve been practicing that a lot and it showed up in the game.‚Äù¬†
Georgia plays again at 4 p.m. Dec. 14 when it hosts Lipscomb.