WASHINGTON — Georgia won’t exactly be heading into Southeastern Conference play next week with a full head of steam.
The Bulldogs were handed their most lopsided loss of the season and held to their lowest point total in a 73-55 thrashing by George Washington Friday night before 3,063 at the Smith Center.
It was Georgia’s second-straight double-digit loss against a quality opponent on the road after losing at Colorado by 14.
“We’ve got to learn to appreciate and commit to the dirty work,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “The game —all games — are won in the trenches and right now we’re not doing that.”
George Washington overwhelmed the Bulldogs in the second half when they won battles on the offensive glass and shot 54 percent from the floor.
“Our defense was very poor and our rebounding was very bad,” said forward Nemanja Djurisic, who had four points and three rebounds in 28 minutes. “Without those two things we can’t even have a chance to win. We’ve got to regroup and fix those things.”
The Bulldogs looked like they a chance to still think upset trailing by only 28-23 entering the second half, but a rising Colonials team pulled ahead by as much as 21.
Georgia went just 1 of 10 on 3-pointers and had 20 turnovers and only four assists.
“I guess we were a little bit out of rhythm offensively and our inability to get stops kind of messed with our head a little bit and we kind of lost confidence towards the end,” said guard Kenny Gaines, who scored eight points but went 0 of 4 on 3-pointers. “We’ve just got to be a tougher-minded team.”
Forward Cameron Forte’s 14 points and guard Charles Mann’s 11 led Georgia, which had just three more field goals than turnovers.
“Give their defense credit tonight,” Fox said. “They had us out of rhythm. We started pressing a little bit. … I thought we were very impatient offensively.”
Georgia (6-6) will enter SEC play next week with a .500 record. George Washington (12-2) won for the seventh time in the last eight games.
Gaines said Georgia has “some good wins under our belt” this season but asked what were the good wins he said laughing: “Every win is a good win, honestly.”
The Bulldogs are criss-crossing the country with three straight road games in three different time zones against easily the best teams on its schedule so far.
Colorado, George Washington and Missouri, the Bulldogs SEC opener on Wednesday, are all in the top 25 in the RPI, a considerably more challenging gantlet than the homestand of Appalachian State. Chattanooga, Lipscomb, Gardner-Webb and Western Carolina that the Bulldogs used to add to their win column.
George Washington has been one of the most improved teams in the nation this season, with wins against a ranked Creighton team, Miami and Maryland. The Colonials went 13-17 last year and were ranked lower in the RPI than Georgia last season and lost to the Bulldogs in Athens 52-41.
A winter storm brought two inches of snow and gusty winds to the nation’s capital. After a morning shootaround, the team got a tour of the Capitol Building, but they came for a win and didn’t come close.
George Washington led from the opening tip — literally.
Indiana transfer Maurice Creek delivered an alley-oop pass to Kethan Savage (game-high 18 points) for a layup five seconds into the game and Creek (15 points) followed with a layup after a Gaines missed 3-pointer.
Georgia hung around early but Gaines, the team’s second-leading scorer, picked up a pair of fouls and was on the bench for the final 9:50 of the first half.
The Colonials scored 16 of their first 18 points of the game in the paint and opened an eight-point lead, but the Bulldogs trimmed it to three on a jumper from freshman guard Juwan Parker.
Mann had a rough first half, hitting just 3 of 10 shots.
George Washington scored eight of the first 10 points of the second half to open a 36-25 lead.
Djurisic lost the ball in the corner leading to a Savage layup and Patrico Garino scored on a putback when Georgia players were near him on the defensive board for the final points of the spurt.
The Colonials got six straight points off the offensive glass with Garino adding a tip-in and Isaiah Armwood a layup off a rebound to push the lead to 45-31 and the Colonials never looked back.
“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves,” Fox said of the nonconference slate: “We have to toughen on defense and on the boards. That’s what I’m concerned about. We’ve got to figure out how to get that end better. … We’ve learned that over the nonconference about ourselves and against good teams we’ve got to improve it.”