Instantaneous Ill-Informed Roundball Wrapup: Georgia Bulldogs 67, LSU Tigers 58

I couldn't get the photo editor to cooperate, and this is supposed to be posted instantaneously, so here's a picture of me reading to my daughter. (Photo credit: My wife.)

Hey! Mark Fox's Hoop Hounds managed to win one in SEC play, as the Georgia Bulldogs outlasted the LSU Tigers, 67-58, to stay out of the league cellar and notch their first conference win. Here's how they did it.

LSU is really bad too. They are going to bad each other till its over.

chuckdawg (January 19, 2013)

On Saturday night, the Georgia Bulldogs welcomed the LSU Tigers to Stegeman Coliseum to determine which winless team in conference action would improve upon its 0-3 record in SEC play. The Red and Black played a reasonable facsimile of competent basketball in a physical outing against an equally inept opponent, ultimately producing a 67-58 victory for the Athenians.

For once, the other team came out shooting colder than the Fox Hounds, who leapt out to a 6-1 lead with an opening run capped off by a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fastbreak dunk. Louisiana State responded with a trio of treys to forge a 10-10 tie five and a half minutes into the contest. The Bayou Bengals took a two-point lead on a Johnny O’Bryant III jumper, but a defensive rebound by Nemanja Djurisic followed by a Donte` Williams dunk snarled the score anew.

The next four points were scored by Georgia, but the Tigers battled back to go up, 21-18, inside the nine-minute mark. That short-lived LSU lead lasted for all of 24 seconds before Caldwell-Pope banged down the three-pointer that tied the game again. The seesaw battle continued, with the contest being deadlocked at 23 with 6:47 to play, then again at 27 with 3:38 remaining in the first half.

As the outing approached intermission, Brandon Morris edged the Red and Black back out in front using a layup and a free throw before Charles Mann closed out the scoring with the foul shot that sent the contest to the break with the Athenians leading, 33-29. In the opening 20 minutes, the two teams were as even as the score suggested: LSU shot 45.8 per cent from the field, while Georgia hit 44.4 per cent of its attempts; the Tigers made 44.4 per cent of their three-pointers, whereas the Bulldogs drained 40 per cent of theirs; the Classic City Canines got 77.8 per cent of their free throws to fall, and the Pelican State Panthers found the bottom of the net 75 per cent of the time from the charity stripe.

Caldwell-Pope opened the second-half scoring with a successful shot from beyond the arc, but the Bulldogs could not distance themselves from the visitors. Georgia’s four-point halftime lead had ballooned only to five points three minutes into the final 20 minutes, and a short-lived 41-33 Red and Black advantage evaporated as Caldwell-Pope went cold from the perimeter, his teammates found themselves in foul trouble while committing needless giveaways, and Anthony Hickey drained consecutive treys to stake Louisiana State to a 47-45 lead with eleven minutes remaining to be played.

A Vincent Williams three-pointer put the home team back out in front, then, after Djurisic poured in a couple of free throws, Caldwell-Pope decided to drive to the basket instead of pulling up and firing from outside. The result was a 54-48 Georgia advantage with seven and a half minutes to go. Because nothing is easy with this team, though, LSU clawed back into the contest with aggressive defense and tied the game at 54 inside of the five-minute mark.

Donte` Williams drew a foul on a layup and made the foul shot that gave the Bulldogs a 57-54 edge with three and a half minutes left, then Caldwell-Pope banged down the jump shot that put the Red and Black up by five. An exchange of free throws left Georgia ahead, 61-56, as the clock ticked under a minute. Vincent Williams effectively iced the game by knocking down two from the charity stripe, and Caldwell-Pope tacked on a pair of free throws during an injury-riddled concluding stretch that saw the most bleeding from the nose I have seen since Jack Nicholson’s unfortunate encounter with Roman Polanski in “Chinatown.”

There is, of course, a limit to the level of hope to be drawn from a triumph at home over a team that now stands at 0-4 in conference play and dead last in the SEC; Georgia avoided the league cellar by being the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Even so, though, the Fox Hounds avoided their usual second-half letup, actually winning the second half (34-29) by a larger margin than they posted in the first (33-29).

The Bulldogs shot nearly 50 per cent from the field (22 of 46) and better than 75 per cent from the free throw line (19 of 25), hitting clutch shots down the stretch when the outcome hung in the balance. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the way with three rebounds, five assists, six steals, and 22 points, and his performance was augmented by Nemanja Djurisic’s eight boards and Donte` Williams’s 14 points. Certainly, no corners were turned tonight, but at least now we know the Red and Black aren’t going winless in SEC play.

Go ‘Dawgs!

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