The Georgia men’s basketball team will roll into Southeastern Conference play next week on a four-game winning streak after it pulled away from George Washington and grabbed a 52-41 win on Friday night.
The Bulldogs may not have looked ready for league play on a night in Stegeman Coliseum when they committed a whopping 25 turnovers, their most since January of 2010, but a team that stood 2-7 just three weeks ago will cling to the positives.
Like holding an opponent without a 3-pointer for the first time in 261 games.
Hitting nearly 49 percent of its own field goal tries.
Closing out the game with an 11-2 run in the final 3:34 to turn a two-point lead into an 11-point win.
“There’s some nice looking things on that stat sheet,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said.
Except those 25 turnovers, its most since a 76-68 loss at Kentucky three years ago.
“I told my wife yesterday, I think my team needs school to start,” said Fox, about his players who return to classes on Monday when the new semester begins. “They were tired of just kind of grinding through because we’ve been working hard. When it really mattered, I thought we got our energy back, our spirit back and beat a good team.”
Georgia (6-7) opens SEC play Wednesday at No. 13 Florida at 7 p.m.
“We’re getting better every day,” said forward Nemanja Djurisc, who scored 17 points off the bench, tying him with guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for game highs.
George Washington went 0 for 12 from 3-point range.
The last team to go without a 3-pointer against Georgia?
Fox knows it well.
It was his Nevada team that beat Georgia 58-47 on Nov. 26, 2004.
“I remember that game,” Fox said. “That was my first road game as a coach. I remember that game vividly. … We didn’t make a 3 at Nevada that year because we were the second worst 3-point shooting team in America. We won the league and we won an NCAA tournament game. Their defense was pretty good that night, too.”
George Washington (6-7) entered as the third-worst 3-point shooting team in the nation, making only three per game.
That didn’t stop them from firing up 10 from behind the arc in the second half when it shot 16.7 percent from the field. The Colonials, which led by five early in the second half. made just 14 of 57 from the field for the game for 24.6 percent.
“Our defense has been great and has helped us a lot,” Caldwell-Pope said.
“Georgia did a good job of taking away our inside game and that threw off our rhythm,” George Washington coach Mike Lonergan said. “We went through a huge scoring drought and just weren’t able to put together enough baskets to get back in the game.”
Fox said he was “surprised” by some of Georgia’s turnovers — five from freshman point guard Charles Mann and four each from forward Donte’ Williams and guard Sherrard Brantley — that kept the Bulldogs in danger of dropping another nonconference game at home. Djurisc tried to throw a ball going out of bounds off a George Washington player, but it instead ended up turning into a layup by Isaiah Armwood with 3:34 to play to cut the Georgia lead to 41-39.
The turnovers weren’t fatal.
“Just trying to come out here play tough, play hard, just win games as best we can,” said center John Florveus, who had a career-high 10 rebounds and three points. “We dug ourselves a hole and we’ve just got to come out of it a little bit.”
After Florveus made one of two free throws, Mann fed Djurisic for a layup with 1:52 to go for a 44-39 lead before Djurisic scored inside for a 46-39 lead with 1:22 left. Georgia hit all six of its foul shots in the final 45 seconds.
“It’s a good win,” Djurisic said. “We came together the last five, six, seven minutes in the gut of the game, the moment of truth. I’m glad everyone was together, everyone had energy to win this game.”