January 19, 2013

Bloodied, but not beaten

FoxLSU from Anthony Dasher on Vimeo.

Neither Nemanja Djurisic nor Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were able to make Georgia's post-game press conference Saturday night, the result of a bruising and sometimes bloody evening of basketball against visiting LSU.

At least the outcome made their trip to the training room worthwhile, as the Bulldogs win their first SEC game in four attempts, beating the Tigers 67-58 before a Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 5,779.

"It was very physical," Bulldog center John Florveus said. "It was one of the most physical games we've had. But we won, and that's what counts."

Florveus wasn't kidding.

Djurisic left late in the game after getting his nose bloodied, while Caldwell-Pope had to get his knee exmained after it collided with the face of LSU's Corban Collins while diving for a loose ball with 1:35 left to play.

Collins came out the worse for well as he had to be picked up and carried off the court after suffering a large cut between his eyes and the bridge of his nose.

"Nemi was gushing blood out of his nose and Kentavious, actually, I think the kid's teeth punctured his leg," Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. "Both teams played hard. Certainly, we had some moments in the second half when we got kind of sped up but I thought we were able to compose ourselves and finish the game in pretty solid fashion."

It was a happy end to be sure.

After dropping their first three conference games, the Bulldogs (7-10, 1-3) were more than just a little bit anxious to secure a victory with Florida due in Stegeman Coliseum this Wednesday night (8 p.m.).

"In this league, every game is tough and we've probably played two of the toughest with the game in Gainesville and the game at Missouri," Fox said. "Our team has not ever felt a great amount of confidence this year so this was big hurdle to overcome. We've got to keep fighting to get over it but tonight was a good step."

Caldwell-Pope led the way with 22 points as Georgia closed out the win by outscoring the Tigers (9-6, 0-4) 13-4 over the game's final 3:24.

"I think the effort was there but we've got to do a better job of finishing," LSU coach Johnny Jones said. "We didn't finish tonight because we didn't take care of the ball."

Bulldog junior Donte Williams helped make LSU's night a long one.

Williams played one of his complete games in recent weeks, chipping with 14 points, including a 3-point play with 3:24 to break a 54-54 tie. On LSU's ensuing possession, Williams came away with a steal before dishing off to Caldwell-Pope who sank a mid-range jumper to extend the lead to 59-54 with 2:49 to play.

"Donte Williams, he had a really good ball game," Fox said. "He got us off to a really good start to start the game but he got on the floor for a loose ball and got a huge steal. I thought Donte was really good in a lot of areas."

Williams is counting on the effort jump-starting the rest of his year.

"I know I've struggled, just to be able to contribute, score, get blocks and get rebounds," Williams said. "Hopefully, I just build off of this."

Johnny O'Bryant III led LSU with 16 points and pulled down 14 rebound for the Tigers, who out-rebounded Georgia 38-29.

Djurisic led the the Bulldogs with a team-high eight boards.

"We were just hungry for a win," Florveus said. "It was just a hard fought game. We had a game plan to come out and play hard and play determined."

Georgia lead at the half 33-29 behind nine points from Caldwell-Pope, whose 3-pointer with 8:20 on the clock tied the game at 21 and stop a 9-2 run by LSU which turned the ball over 10 times in the game's first 20 minutes.

The Bulldogs weren't quite so generous, only committing six, including just none by the point guard of Charles Mann and Vincent Williams.

Georgia was subsequently able to finish the first half off strong.

After LSU regained a brief 23-21 lead on a layup by Malik Morgan, six straight points by the Bulldogs - including a 3-pointer by Djurisic - helped Georgia forge ahead 27-23 before settling for four-point halftime lead.

"We had more guys score the ball tonight," Fox said. "We had other guys come in and make plays, so I don't think (Caldwell-Pope) had to carry much of the scoring load."