Remember how, in the SEC Championship Game, an outing that started out pretty even for the first few minutes turned into a whipping? Well, the Georgia Bulldogs’ basketball game against the LSU Tigers was exactly the opposite of that, as what started out as a whipping for the first few minutes turned into a pretty even contest, culminating in a 61-53 loss for the Classic City Canines.
In the game’s first 173 seconds, Louisiana State went on a 10-0 run in Baton Rouge as Marcus Thornton missed a jump shot, Donte` Williams turned the ball over and committed a foul, Gerald Robinson turned the ball over, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a jump shot, and Thornton missed a jump shot and committed a foul. By the time Caldwell-Pope scored Georgia’s first points of the game on a three-point bucket, the writing was on the gymnasium wall.
The Bayou Bengals, who held a 10-0 edge with 17:25 remaining until intermission, also claimed first-half leads of 17-7 with 12:23 to play, 21-11 with 9:33 left before the break, and 27-17 with 5:14 showing on the clock. However, the Fox Hounds outscored their hosts, 8-2, in those final 314 ticks to head to the locker room trailing by a 29-23 margin.
In the initial 20 minutes, Georgia somehow shot 40 per cent from the field (10 of 25), but LSU shot 50 per cent (12 of 24). Likewise, while the Tigers hit only two of seven treys, the Bulldogs managed just two of eight from outside the arc. Robinson, who led the team in points (8) and rebounds (3) before the break, was four for four from short range, which ought to tell him something about the nature of his game. (Please pardon the inadvertent “Sympathy for the Devil” allusion.)
Georgia trailed by six when the second half began, and the Hoop Dogs still trailed by six five minutes later, by which point the Tigers had taken a 34-28 advantage. With some degree of fluctuation, that margin largely remained constant, as the score was 36-30 with twelve and a half minutes left, 43-37 with eight and a half minutes remaining, 45-39 with seven minutes to play, 48-42 with six and a half minutes showing on the clock, 54-48 with a minute and a half to go, and 57-51 with 30 seconds standing between the Bulldogs and defeat.
Mark Fox’s young team got younger this evening, as John Cannon (four points, three rebounds, and one block) provided a second-half spark for the Athenians generally, and for Williams (seven points, four rebounds, and one block) specifically. Not content to allow any Cannon not named Billy to succeed athletically in Baton Rouge, LSU answered with Justin Hamilton (seven points, nine rebounds, two steals, and one block), Andre Stringer (18 points and one rebound), and Storm Warren (six points and five rebounds). Also, I like the name “Storm Warren,” which sounds like something FEMA constructed more of in the rebuilding of New Orleans.
Much like the aforementioned SEC Championship Game, this contest was, by turns, both encouraging and frustrating. Georgia showed how well it can perform as a team when the Red and Black play their game, but they failed to demonstrate the ability to do so consistently. The Bulldogs’ inside penetration was effective on those sporadic occasions on which it was not nonexistent, with the result that the visitors shot free throws rarely (five of seven) while the home team fired foul shots poorly (18 of 30). In the final 37 minutes and seven seconds, Georgia outscored Louisiana State, 53-51.