Bulldogs ‘win one for the kids,’ 58-49 over Mercer

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ATHENS – Turns out a building full of school children was exactly what the Georgia Bulldogs needed.

More than 4,000 kids had Stegeman Coliseum rocking with high-pitched noise for Tuesday’s 11:30 a.m. tip against Mercer. The Bulldogs responded with just their third victory of the season, 58-49 over Mercer.

And while the children, who came from Athens area elementary schools, were invited well before last week’s tragedy in Newtown, Conn., the significance of their presence was not lost upon coach Mark Fox or his players.

“With what happened in Connecticut, you couldn’t look at those kids without thinking about it,” Fox said of the Dec. 14th shooting, which left 27 dead. “I mean, I’ve got kids who go to elementary school. I can’t imagine what some of those families are going through. So often in this country we lose sight of the things that are the most important. . . . So today did feel different, and I hope those kids had a great time because they certainly added a lot of energy to the building.”

Said Georgia freshman guard Charles Mann: “It touched our hearts when we heard it happened. We just wanted come out here and play good and get the win for the kids.”

The Bulldogs (3-7) had to fight for the win, staving off a Mercer team that led the game briefly in the second half and was within six points in the final minute. And while that might elicit a shrug from many, it seemed significant to a team that has struggled close out games in the early going.

“Mercer’s a great team,” said guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who led the Bulldogs with 17 points and 9 rebounds, just missing his third consecutive double-double. “This win gave us confidence. We’re getting it back. We’re going to build off this and keep winning.”

Mercer had most of the players back from last year’s team, which won 27 games and is favored to win a second straight Atlantic Sun championship. The Bears (6-6) opened the season playing without their star point guard, who was injured, and had already knocked off Florida State 61-56 on Dec. 2.

“We beat a really good basketball team today,” Fox said. “They’ll be a team that has a chance to win their league and have a chance to play in the NCAA tournament. They’re very complete and very well-coached. So when you beat a good team you feel good about it.”

The win came in a period of youthful transition for the Bulldogs. Mann, the freshman from Alpharetta, got his first start at point guard. Fellow freshman Brandon Morris got his second start at forward and freshman Kenny Gaines came off the bench to play significant minutes.

Mann, who missed six critical free throws in the overtime loss to Iona this past Saturday, stepped up and made 4-of-6 this time, including two of three in the final three minutes. He scored 10 points with seven rebounds had five assists Tuesday and has scored 28 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in the last two games.

“Charles is still young but he’s really getting comfortable,” Fox said.

It was a tight game throughout, with Georgia pulling out to seven- and eight-point leads only to have the Bears claw back. The Bulldogs were clinging to a 47-43 with 4:05 to play when Caldwell-Pope took over. He was 6-of-6 from the foul line the rest of the way to salt away the victory.

“The kids were excited to see us and we were excited to put on a show for them and get the win,” said Caldwell-Pope, who has led the Bulldogs in scoring every game this season. “They gave us motivation to go out there and play hard.”

Said Fox: “I want to thank Coach (Bob) Hoffman for agreeing to play the early game. Not many coaches would have done that, and it meant a lot to the kids of this community.”

And to the Bulldogs as well.

38 comments Add your comment

DawginLex

December 18th, 2012
3:41 pm

Crack kills son.

Get help

Obv

December 18th, 2012
3:49 pm

demhairydawgs = tech nerd trying to be funny

collegeballfan

December 18th, 2012
3:55 pm

Big win for UGA. Mercer is a solid team.

G-Dawg

December 18th, 2012
4:04 pm

I can hear em coming….troll alert!!

Spike the Ball!

December 18th, 2012
4:08 pm

Seriously? The team just beat Mercer. It’s not like we beat Carolina or Duke. When beating Mercer is a great win, you know this program has hit the skids. It might be time to start over. Sorry Coach Fox.

DataJanitor

December 18th, 2012
4:09 pm

This is going to be a long season for the Dogs… and there doesn’t seem to be any hope for a better future. This is Fox’s team now. This is what we get with Fox as the coach. Add my name to the list of those who vote to end his tenure at UGA.

Joey

December 18th, 2012
4:16 pm

Kinda glad the game was close.

The Dawgs have been in almost every game at the end, but gave them away.

They really needed to win one.

SimpleDawg

December 18th, 2012
4:17 pm

I sure thought the Foxhounds would be much better than they’ve showed so far this season.

The team doesn’t seem to have very many really good basketball players……some decent players, but this bunch isn’t going to win more than about 10 to 12 games this year.

There are always a lot of talented players coming out of the state each year, but we don’t seem to get any of them.

VinceVanGo

December 18th, 2012
4:26 pm

Give this team & Coach Fox a chance to get better. The freshman are doing great and getting better every game. The sophomores are a stout group and also getting better. This team should get a little better each & every game and be pretty tough by the seasons end. Then next year the junior & sophomore classes will lead this team to some big things. Patience please Dog fans.

Hubert Green

December 18th, 2012
4:28 pm

Glad to see Charles Mann playing the way he’s capable!

casual observer

December 18th, 2012
4:30 pm

What a great time for a bunch of schoolkids. All schools should do that more often. Kind of keeps the whole “sports thing” in perspective, doesn’t it ? Sure , Georgia is a little down with the hoops right now, but Mark Fox is a good man and a good coach, IMO. If the Dawgs let him go, they will regret it. He’ll have them in the NCAA tourney next year ( 2013 – 2014 ).

File this "win" under...

December 18th, 2012
4:37 pm

…who gives a flying flip -but, the sentiment was nice…

Don'tsufferfools

December 18th, 2012
4:40 pm

Yea fire Fox now and go ahead and hire the next coach to be fired in 3 or 4 years.

1971DAWG

December 18th, 2012
4:41 pm

Think someone is drinking to much spiked eggnog. Anyone that thinks this coach and this team will make the NCAA tourney next year is either drunk or knows nothing about basketball. This is the least talented team UGA has put on the floor in decades, and UGA has put some GOD awful teams on the floor.There is no talent on the roster, and the sad thing is this coach can’t recruit, so there is no talent on the way.It will take the next coach 3 or 4 more years to clean up the mess this clown has made. I feel sorry for the next coach that inherits this pitiful bunch of players that Fox recruited. But hey don’t worry UGA fans, because the brilliant A.D. said he is pleased with Fox and the direction the porogram is headed. It is obvious this idiot never learned a thing while he was at Florida. Last time i looked Florida’s basketball team was ranked in top 10. Fox and McGarity=losers!!!

DawginLex

December 18th, 2012
4:44 pm

stinger

The time over on the flats is

9:18

:) :)

Rezner74

December 18th, 2012
4:54 pm

Hire SETH GREENBERG!!

UGA Fan

December 18th, 2012
5:01 pm

UGA’s basketball tradition has been one of dismal proportion.

You can equate their history to that of Kentucky or Vanderbilt in football.

Joey

December 18th, 2012
5:09 pm

“There is no talent on the roster,…” – 1971DAWG
**************************
So, how did UGA take Indiana and UCLA to the wire with no talent?

Good coaching?

GB's Hamburgers

December 18th, 2012
5:40 pm

I don’t think Fox is going to get it done if beating Mercer is seen as some kind of stepping stone to greater things.

Dawg Bite

December 18th, 2012
5:48 pm

Oh well, better than a loss, regardless of who the opponent was!

Mike Lewis in Gray, GA

December 18th, 2012
6:00 pm

While Mercer may not have a great name, their b-ball program has been quite solid for some time now…they have taken many solid D-1 schools to task over the years including UGA, Bama, Seton Hall, etc. Maybe they’re not the Duke’s or U-Conn’s of the world but they are solid and should make the NCAA tourney again…don’t be hating on my alma mater…(also attended UGA).

dawg man

December 18th, 2012
6:01 pm

Have to agree, Mercer is a good basketball team, that could get to the tournament. However, it should not be a measuring stick for UGA.

Unbiased Sometimes

December 18th, 2012
6:11 pm

Wow bringing in 4,000 kids must have been a logistic nightmare. Nice gesture though and a good way to fill seats during the holidays or an awful season (or both). Y’all do that every year?

Put in Timeout by Ken Suguira,Filtered by Mark Bradley, Banned by Bill King, Chip Towers & only slightly loved by Jeff Schultz.

December 18th, 2012
6:52 pm

Not even 60 points?

Is the dawgs starting lineup still in the Athens jail?

December 18th, 2012
7:11 pm

Congratulations UGA men’s basketball. You played up to your potential!

Dawgfan

December 18th, 2012
8:19 pm

Mercer beat FSU……So this was a good win with a very, very young team! Go Dawgs!

Fair n Balanced

December 18th, 2012
10:54 pm

Now that we have a solid win, a win that coul help us get a birth in the NCAA tournament……. Hey, only 3 more wins and we are bowl eligible!

frank reynolds

December 18th, 2012
11:02 pm

11:30am on a Tuesday?

Was this for an Always Sunny episode?

CasualObserver

December 18th, 2012
11:13 pm

Not that I care much either way, but it is pretty funny to see all the Tech trolls on the UGA basketball blog when they complain so bitterly about the UGA trolls on their football blog. Tech and UGA both suck at basketball right now, Tech happens to also suck at football, so their fans should probably not be throwing stones at anyone.

Buzz 2011

December 18th, 2012
11:26 pm

@joey… Take to the wire? They lost the freaking games.. Dawgs need to learn, losing
means you lose the games!!!!! Dawgs look like a high school team. Maybe that is why they packed
Stegemann tonight with 4200 fans. 4000 kids and 200 Dawg fans………………..

dawglova

December 19th, 2012
12:52 am

This is an extremely young team. People act like UGA is not doing what it has always done in B-ball. You love the team so much go to a game. Hell they might would play with a little more energy if there was more than 150 people in the stands. Kinda hard to get pumped up for that. Support the team folks. Or stop bitchin about em

Buzz

December 19th, 2012
7:20 am

Very nice gesture opening the arena to school kids. Well done!

Another Voice

December 20th, 2012
8:11 am

Both the UGA basketball teams have programs to bring K-12 students to the games. All involved incentives for academic performance, such as reading 1000 minutes for elementary students. The kids get recognized during half-time with an appearance on the court, and they get to see the game. Makes for some loyal Bulldog fans – even for kids who will attend college elsewhere.

real dawg fanz

December 20th, 2012
10:40 am

1971 Dawg, you are too old go back to bed
this tream in 18 months will be in the dance, keep eye on prixe sir

you know ..players in college do get better with time…
next yr they all come back, so 30 games from now this team will be good.

fans

December 20th, 2012
10:42 am

stop whining if you dont go to the games.
they are already playing w/o your support.

PERIOD

these kids are playing hard, and are extremely young. But Morris, Mann, KCP with Williams back next yr will be a very strong sec team

1971 dawg and others

December 20th, 2012
10:46 am

this current team will be good, and Mercer will be in the dance in march.
Sure.. not a measuring stick but a solid BB team.

They beat no. 25 FSU at FSU.

stop being “fly by” fans

just shut up

nobody cares what you think,

Merry Christmas

Boise Dawg

December 20th, 2012
10:50 am

Given how we have looked up to this point, this was a great win. I have been critical of Fox, so I will now give my kudos. I guess it begs the question, how we lost some of the others… the scary thing is we haven’t exactly played the toughest schedule, so the 3-7 record is especially bad. Fox is fighting for his job the rest of this season… based on what I have seen, we have no shot at the postseason, but hopefully we can get better and win 7 or 8 conference games and play competitively in the rest. If we win less than 5 conference games and get blown out by the better teams, then I hope McGarity decides pull the plug on the Fox regime….

coacht

December 20th, 2012
8:43 pm

You know we lost 2 very good players who are now sittting on the Clippers bench. Georgia
is VERY fortunate to have Coach Fox. This is a tournament sport….lot of hoops to be played yet.
AND remember…he had to resort to a novelty time and “event” to get 4,000 in the gym. Georgia
is getting better. Revolving door coaches does not help. Get out support the team, coaches and players and watch it get better.