Huge game for Razorbacks tonight at Georgia. Must-win. Period. Josh Bertaccini (February 8, 2012)
On a Wednesday evening that featured some top-tier college basketball around the country, Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs limped into their home date with an Arkansas Razorbacks squad that had yet to card the season’s first road win. Everything about what followed was shocking, as the Classic City Canines carded an 81-59 triumph. No, seriously.
Despite jacking up too many overly early ill-fated treys, the Fox Hounds held an 8-2 edge with 14 and a half minutes remaining in the opening period, thanks to a pair of Gerald Robinson layups---hey! getting to the basket works!---and a couple of jump shots by Robinson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The Hoop Hogs’ B.J. Young snarled the score with back-to-back three-point buckets, but another Robinson layup put the Red and Black back out in front, sparking a run during which Georgia appeared, not without exception but at least for lengthy stretches, to grasp the concept that working the ball inside effectively sets up good looks for the players on the perimeter, as evidenced by the Robinson-assisted Caldwell-Pope three-pointer that staked the Athenians to a 19-8 lead with a little over nine and a half minutes remaining until halftime.
Though the Bulldogs got a little sloppy toward the end of the initial 20 minutes, the home team held a 43-24 advantage at intermission. Georgia drained 18 of 32 first-half shots from the field (56.3%), knocked down five of twelve from beyond the arc (41.7%), dominated the glass with a 25-10 rebounding edge, and outscored the visitors in the paint (20-6), on the fast break (6-0), off of turnovers (7-2), and in second-chance points (9-2). However, the Fox Hounds sent the Razorbacks to the line twice as often as the Classic City Canines stepped up to the charity stripe, putting Nemanja Djurisic, John Florveus, Marcus Thornton, and Donte’ Williams in early foul trouble with two personal fouls apiece in the first half.
Though Arkansas made its momentary mini-runs in the final 20 minutes, the trends of the first half largely were sustained in the second half, as Georgia generally maintained a twentysomething-point cushion that kept the Hogs from creeping close enough to put the outcome in doubt. Four Classic City Canines scored in double-figures, led by Robinson’s career-high 27 points, with Caldwell-Pope, Djurisic, and Thornton contributing 18, 14, and ten, respectively.
A game that began with a bloodletting---from Thornton’s wounded nose---ended in one, as well. This unquestionably was the Bulldogs’ most complete performance of the season against legitimate opposition, and it couldn’t have come at a better time: Georgia arrived at the Stegosaurus on Wednesday evening trailing a four-game losing streak after having dropped seven of their last eight outings, but the Bulldogs proceeded to score more than 70 points for just the fourth time this season, and for the first time against opposition of this caliber.
Could this have been the breakout game we have awaited all season long? Maybe, though I doubt it; for now, though, it suffices that the Red and Black looked like a legitimate team tonight, which is more than I’ve been able to say most nights. Sustaining it for 40 minutes was a step in the right direction; now let’s try sustaining it for consecutive contests for a change.