Nov. 11, 2011
ATHENS --- Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 15 points and Dustin Wareadded 14 as Georgia pulled away from Wofford to post a 62-49 victory over Terriers in each team's basketball season opener here Friday night.
The Bulldogs overcame 34 percent shooting and a rebounding deficit for most of the game to prevail against the pesky visitors. Wofford, which represented the Southern Conferenc in the past two NCAA Tournaments, chipped a double-digit deficit in the second half down to five in the waning minutes.
"That was a good opening game for us," said Georgia head coach Mark Fox. "We knew we'd be forced to play at both ends and be forced to play for 40 minutes. We're not finishing plays like I'm wanting to, but I didn't expect us to be a thing of beaut with what we have offensively. It's a win and a good experience for our team."
The Bulldogs trailed Wofford - which defeated Georgia in its last trip to Athens in 2009 - for much of the first half. A 9-0 run, however, enabled the Bulldogs to take control, if only briefly. Caldwell-Pope's steal and breakaway dunk triggered the Georgia outburst and put the Bulldogs ahead to stay at 15-13.
It was the heralded freshman's first basket of the game, coming with 8:07 left in the first half, after missing his first five shots. Caldwell-Pope played with greater confidence thereafter and finished the first half with 13 points.
"It was a big relief," he said. "I was nervous again, but I got that first basket and then it was good. I just have to play my game, be patient and kind of let the game come to me."
Leading by nine at halftime, Georgia kept the Terriers at arm's length for most of the final period. Five times the Bulldogs pushed their lead into double digits, only to see Wofford respond with scores. The Terriers pulled within five points, their closest margin since the opening minutes, on a pair of foul shots by Domas Rinksalis, bringing them within 47-42 at the 6:09 mark of the second half.
Reserve forward Nemanja Djurisic then made perhaps the game's biggest play that turned momentum back in Georgia's favor. He stole possession from Wofford's Drew Crowell and led a 2-man fast break with Gerald Robinsonthat resulted in his own slam dunk. Djurisic took another assist from Robinson on the Bulldogs' next possession and cashed in a layup that pushed the Georgia margin back to 51-42.
Georgia pulled away and boosted its final margin by making all six of its foul shots in the last minute of play.
The Bulldogs return to competition Sunday evening when they play host to Bowling Green in the Progressive CBE Classic tournament. Tipoff is at 6:00 p.m.