Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs (9-5) wrapped up the softest part of their schedule with five straight victories, but that winning skein wasn’t as easy as it ought to have been, as evidenced by Friday afternoon’s tilt in Stegeman Coliseum against the Delaware St. Hornets. Though the Bulldogs prevailed, Georgia struggled with the outmanned visitors in a 58-51 win.
The Hornets hit half of their shots from the field in the first 20 minutes, building a 14-4 advantage in the initial nine minutes behind Casey Walker’s three-for-four shooting from way downtown. Dustin Ware countered by draining three of five attempts from beyond the arc to spark a 23-15 Bulldog run capped off by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s half-court buzzer-beater to put the home team up, 32-29, at the break. The freshman standout, like teammate Donte` Williams, finished with a dozen points and nine boards, while Ware led all Georgia scorers with 15 points.
Delaware State had more assists (11-10) and blocks (6-3), while the Red and Black had more fouls (14-13) and turnovers (8-7). The Hornets hit nearly 42 per cent of their three-point tries (10 of 24), but the Bulldogs dominated the glass, holding a 40-26 rebounding edge. The Athenians hit 22 of 56 shots from the field while sinking seven of their eight attempts from the free throw line.
Coach Fox minced no words following the lackluster victory, stating simply that Georgia “can’t be successful in the SEC playing like that. We’ll take the win and learn as much as we can from it, but we need to grow up.” This young team has much maturing to do, but not much time to do it; the Bulldogs begin their 16-game conference schedule by hosting the Alabama Crimson Tide on January 7.
It would be a tall order, indeed, for the Red and Black to card the six league victories necessary for them to finish the regular season with an overall .500 record, but it would be quite nice if they did. By sundown Monday evening, after all, we are back to being a basketball school.