Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs opened conference play by hosting the Alabama Crimson Tide in Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday night. Despite staying with the visitors in the early going and surging to within striking distance in the second half, the Red and Black came up short by a 74-59 margin.
In the opening period, Alabama had more turnovers (8-7) and the two teams had an equal number of points in the paint (12), but, otherwise, the first half was predominantly crimson. The Tide hit half their three-pointers (6 of 12), more than half their field goals (13 of 25), and all their foul shots (6 of 6) in the course of building a 38-26 lead at the break.
Georgia had held an 11-10 lead seven minutes into the first half, and the Fox Hounds opened the second half on a 5-2 run to cut the Alabama lead to single digits. A Nemanja Djurisic jump shot and a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three-pointer sliced the Crimson Tide’s lead to 52-46 with eleven minutes remaining, then Caldwell-Pope brought the Bulldogs to within five points of the visitors with a pair of free throws with a little over eight minutes to play.
The next nine points were scored by Alabama in a run that did not end until Caldwell-Pope drained another couple of shots from the charity stripe, but, by that point, the Tide were up, 64-52, and the contest no longer was in doubt.
Gerald Robinson led all of Saturday’s starters with eleven points, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Nemanja Djurisic contributed 22 and ten, respectively, despite coming in from off the bench. Aside from Robinson, the other four first-teamers combined for five points. At the end of the evening, the effort was encouraging, but the ultimate result was not. The Athenians fought back admirably yet still lost convincingly, which ought to erase any lingering doubts in the fans’ minds that this is apt to be a long year in which the Red and Black will be forced to settle for more than their fair share of moral victories, in lieu of actual ones.