Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 17 points in the Hoop Dogs' season-opening victory over Jacksonville. - Chris Graythen
The Georgia Bulldogs prevailed in a sloppy season opener to get the 2012-'13 college basketball campaign underway, narrowly edging the visiting Jacksonville Dolphins in Stegeman Coliseum on Friday night.
(Author’s Note: For the benefit of the uninitiated, I offer a brief word of explanation at the outset. As the name of the site implies, we here at Dawg Sports believe in providing comprehensive coverage of University of Georgia athletics. Consequently, NCT authors weekly updates on Bulldog sports of lesser renown than football, and, because men’s basketball is our second most important sport, Mr. Sanchez brings you the who, what, and when while chuckdawg provides the where, why, and how. That just leaves me, and, frankly, I’m the weak link in the chain. Basketball matters, but my understanding of basketball is rudimentary, so I provide recaps which deservedly are known as instantaneous ill-informed roundball wrapups, at which I remain bad, but at which I hope I have gotten better since authoring the first one. Any insights you are able to offer are welcome in the comments below.)
Tonight, Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs, fresh from an offseason sojourn in Italy, a preseason private scrimmage with Clemson, and an exhibition outing against Young Harris, opened the 2012-’13 season against the Jacksonville Dolphins in Stegeman Coliseum, struggling to win a nailbiter in an undisciplined outing.
As reported by DarinSmith in the comment thread, Mark Richt’s son, Jon, did a solid job with the national anthem, but what ensued was a sloppy contest. Neither team started out especially hot from the field, as the Hoop Hounds held only a 6-2 lead five minutes into the game. A Tim Dixon fastbreak dunk gave the Red and Black a ten-point edge at the 13-minute mark, but the Dolphins narrowed the gap before a late flurry of points poured in by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope permitted the Bulldogs to head to the locker room ahead by a 34-21 margin.
There was little to like about either team’s first-half performance. Each squad committed eight fouls before the break, and Jacksonville’s nine turnovers in the opening 20 minutes were exceeded by Georgia’s dozen giveaways. The Classic City Canines went to intermission shooting 50 per cent from the field (13 of 26), led by Nemanja Djurisic’s seven points.
A 13-5 Dolphin run early in the second half cut the Red and Black’s lead to 36-40 with 15 minutes remaining in the game. A Charles Mann steal, a Sherrard Brantley layup, and a pair of Kenny Gaines free throws extended the home team’s advantage to eight points, yet still the visitors declined to go quietly, answering to close the gap to 45-40 just inside the eleven-minute mark. The Georgia retort came in the form of a John Cannon offensive rebound and tip-in followed by a Marcus Thornton layup to put the Fox Hounds back out in front by nine.
The Dolphins continued to hang around, pulling to within six before Djurisic hit the jumper that made it 52-44. Following a pair of missed treys by the Bulldogs, Caldwell-Pope drained a quartet of free throws to open up a ten-point edge with just under seven minutes to play. The former McDonald’s All-American was not done, though, as his fastbreak layup and another pair of free throws put the Athenians ahead by a 60-48 margin with six minutes showing on the clock.
Cold shooting by the Bulldogs opened the door for another Jacksonville run to cut the margin to 66-62 with 45 seconds remaining, but the Red and Black held on to card a six-point victory. Caldwell-Pope led the way with 17 points, including a ten-for-twelve night from the charity stripe, and Djurisic poured in 14 points of his own in the sloppy victory.
Go ‘Dawgs! Auburna delenda est!