Mark Fox’s Georgia Bulldogs were on the road in College Station on Saturday evening for a conference showdown with the Texas A&M Aggies. Though the SEC West squad came into the game in the midst of a bad patch, the Red and Black were underdogs away from Stegeman Coliseum, yet, somehow, some way, the Fox Hounds succeeded in notching an improbable 59-52 triumph.
The game began with Texas A&M’s J’Mychal Reese missing a jump shot, turning the ball over, and committing the foul that sent Brandon Morris to the free throw line to score the first two points of the contest. There began a low-scoring first half typified by turnovers, missed shots, and alternating one-point leads. The Bulldogs held a 5-4 edge four minutes into the opening period, then the Aggies’ Andrew Young (presumably not the one with a street in Atlanta named after him) made the layup that gave his team a 6-5 advantage, then Tim Dixon got the tip-in to stake the visitors to a 7-6 edge just over seven minutes into the contest.
Georgia then showed some semblance of an offensive spark, as three Charles Mann free throws and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s jumper and dunk allowed the Red and Black to build up a 14-6 lead a little past the midpoint of the first half. Texas A&M crept back into contention, pulling within two points, but Mann and Caldwell-Pope continued to generate such offense as the Red and Black managed until the Fox Hounds headed to the locker room up, 27-23.
The Bulldogs began the second half by raining down treys, as Vincent Williams, Sherrard Brantley, and Caldwell-Pope between them made four shots from beyond the arc in the first five minutes following intermission to go out in front by a 43-27 margin. Following that torrid start, the next three minutes saw a scoring drought interrupted only by an Elston Turner three-pointer, but Nemanja Djurisic got into the act as well, draining one from way downtown to extend the Georgia advantage to 15 points.
Once again, the Aggies came back, cutting the Bulldogs’ lead to 52-48 with just under three minutes showing on the scoreboard. After missing one from outside the arc, Caldwell-Pope knocked down a clutch trey with 130 seconds remaining, but Texas A&M answered with a pair of Turner free throws and a Kourtney Roberson layup to narrow the visitors’ advantage to three points inside the final minute.
Donte` Williams then got the tip-in, the steal, and the assist that made the final margin seven points. The Bulldogs shot the ball at a greater rate than the Aggies from the field (19 of 44), from three-point range (8 of 18), and from the free throw line (13 of 17). Caldwell-Pope led the way with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Mann carded four assists.
As always, only so much should be read into any victory that left both teams sitting at 2-4 in conference play. Nevertheless, Georgia won both halves, outscoring the host squad by four points before the break and by three after halftime. At the end of the day, an SEC road win is an SEC road win. Once again, we mustn’t treat this as a mojo-altering breakthrough, but, every now and again, a win is nice.