Georgia secured one of those all-important quality wins on Sunday when the Hoop Hounds emphatically defeated Seton Hall 65-47 at Stegeman Coliseum. The win moved the 'Dawgs to 5-0 at home on the season.
Those who, like me, feared that the Red and Black might come out a little rusty following a two week break were pleasantly surprised. Georgia emerged from the locker room on fresh legs and jumped out to a 12-2 advantage, leading by as many as 25, and never being in any serious jeopardy from the Pirates. Perennial Big East contender Seton Hall came into the night 9-1 on the season but shot a horrendous 16 of 54 (29.6%) from the field. That's no way to win a road basketball game.
Part of the Pirates' poor shooting night was attributable to a Bulldog defense that played aggressively most of the night, answering a challenge from Coach Fox to rise to the occasion against a quality opponent. Speaking of rising to the occasion, freshman Yante Maten started in place of Nema Djurisic (recovering from the flu) and responded with a solid 6 rebound performance. He wasn't alone, as the 'Dawgs out rebounded their visitors by a solid 50-31 margin. Sophomore guard J.J. Frazier also had a big night on the boards, pulling down an impressive 11 rebounds to go with 7 assists. Some of those boards happened because Frazier was simply in the right place at the right time when Pirate shooters missed on jump shots. Others were pure hustle, an encouraging sign.
Between rebounding, contesting shots on defense, and pressing the ball upcourt to create fast break points, it's safe to say that Georgia did all the little things you have to do to beat good basketball teams. Another thing you have to do? Play through some injuries. Guard Kenny Gaines did just that, leading all Bulldog scorers with 15 points despite being a game time decision due to a shoulder injury suffered on December 7th against Colorado. Marcus Thornton chipped in 13, continuing a strong senior season during which the former Georgia Mr. Basketball has really grown into his own.
The 'Dawgs did shoot a merely respectable 41.5% from the field and a fairly poor 61.5% from the free throw line. But on the whole it was a solid win that will look nice on the resume in March. Coach Fox's charges will next take the floor on Saturday back at the Stege when they host a dangerous Mercer squad. Until later...