ATHENS — It’s not to difficult to figure out how to defend Georgia at this juncture in the basketball season. The Bulldogs’ scoring leader is sophomore guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with 17.6 points per game. No other player is averaging double figures.
Suffice it to say, Georgia is in desperate need of offensive diversification.
“Kentavious is doing all he can,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said Monday. “We need somebody else to finish some plays. … We can’t put it all on one guy’s shoulders. That’s probably the biggest issue right now.”
Tuesday night would be a good time for that somebody to step up. The Bulldogs (2-5) are heading into Atlanta to face rival Georgia Tech (4-2) at new McCamish Pavilion. In order to score its first victory over a major-college opponent, Georgia needs someone other than Caldwell-Pope to put the ball in the basket.
That starts in the paint. Sophomore Nemanja Djurisic, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward, is currently the Bulldogs’ No. 2 scorer at 8.3 points per game and averages 4.4 rebounds. But he’s shooting just 36 percent and has regressed from 3-point range, where he’s 5-for-22 (.227). Fellow forward Donte Williams is off to his own slow start. After missing the first two games due to suspension, he’s scoring 6.2 points with 4 rebounds per game.
“Nemi and Donte need to be more effective,” Fox said. “Nemi’s not shooting a percentage he’s capable of. John Cannon and Tim Dixon have come in and finished well at times. We’ve just got to find some guys who can score.”
Obviously Caldwell-Pope can do that. He has led the Bulldogs in scoring in all seven games but also leads the team in rebounding, steals and minutes played. But between the load he’s carrying and the attention he is commanding, he hasn’t been efficient. Caldwell-Pope is shooting just 38 percent from the field.
As a team Georgia is averaging just 57 points a game (lowest in the SEC) on 40 percent shooting (No. 12 in the SEC).
“We have not played as well offensively as I thought we would,” Fox said. “We’re not shooting free throws well, we’re not finishing plays well, we just haven’t done well. It’s not like we’ve played poorly the entire game. We’ve had a chance to win every game. We just haven’t played 40 minutes.”
The Bulldogs played about 32 good minutes against No. 1 Indiana before losing 66-53, about 38 in a 60-56 loss to No. 11 UCLA and about 37 against South Florida on Friday before falling 64-53. A full 40 against the Jackets will be required.
“We’re off to a slow start, a disappointing start,” Fox said. “We did that to ourselves. We have to own up to that. Every game is important to us, including this one.”