ATHENS — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Nemanja Djurisic each scored 17 points and Georgia overcame 25 turnovers as the Bulldogs defeated George Washington 52-41 Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
The win was the fourth in a row for the Bulldogs (6-7), who open SEC play on Wednesday at No. 13 Florida (9-2).
“That’s a good win,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “We hold them to 20 percent (shooting). I don’t think they made a 3. We win the rebounding battle (39 to 31). We shoot 48 percent from the field. There’s some good-looking things on that stat sheet. Then you look down and you see the turnover column, in which we have 25.
“I was telling my wife, I think our team needs school to start … as poorly as we were thinking out there tonight.”
The Colonials (6-7) did fail to make a 3-point basket. In fact, they were 0-for-12 from behind the arc. The last time Georgia held on opponent without a 3-pointer was 261 games ago when it hosted Nevada in 2004. The coach of the Wolfpack that year was Fox.
“I remember that game vividly,” Fox said. “We were the second-worst 3-point shooting team in America that year.”
GW is not so hot either. The Colonials came in ranked 343 out of 345 teams in 3-point field goals.
But the game was definitely won on the defensive end of the floor. Georgia held its visitors to 24.6 percent shooting, including 16.7 in the second half. The Bulldogs also recorded 7 blocks and 8 steals.
And they were moderately efficient on the offensive end, at least when they weren’t losing possession of the basketball. Freshman point guard Charles Mann had five turnovers and Sherrard Brantley and Donte Williams added four each as Georgia had a season high in miscues. Georgia also hurt its own cause by going 10-of-17 at the foul line.
But all that was somewhat nullified by more offensive balance. Djursic, who came in averaging just 7.8 points a game, had his second-consecutive double-figure night. He also scored 21 against Florida A&M in the last outing.
“I got off to a rough start this season,” said the 6-foot-8 sophomore forward. “I missed so many easy layups and that kind of messed with my confidence a little bit. But I’m glad my teammates were there and my coaches were there for me. They were all supportive of me and had patience in me and I came back a little bit these last two games.”
Djurisic’s offensive presence in the paint took some of the pressure off Caldwell-Pope, who has now tied for the scoring lead or held it outright in 12 of the Bulldogs’ 13 games this season.
“It’s very important,” Caldwell-Pope said of getting some offensive assistance. “The scouting report is going to have to change on us. Our team is scoring the ball better and people are scoring besides me and it’s important that we keep doing that.”
It was a back-and-forth game most of the way. The Colonials, were led by Kevin Larsen with 14 points, tied the game at 37-all on Bryan Bynes fast-break lay-up (off a Georgia turnover, of course). But that spurred the Bulldogs on a 9-0 run in which Djurisic scored seven points on three lay-ins and a free throw.
The Bulldogs closed out the game at the foul line with Caldwell-Pope making four free throws and Djurisic two in the final minute.
Vincent Williams returned to the starting lineup at point guard ahead of the freshman Charles Mann and senior John Florveus got a rare start at center. Florveus had a career-high 10 rebounds.
The Bulldogs also were also playing without forward Marcus Thornton. The beleaguered junior underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and is out for the rest of the season. It was Thornton’s fourth knee surgery since coming to UGA from Westlake High as the reigning Mr. Georgia Basketball.
“We had to rely on our defense tonight and out defense has been pretty good,” Fox said. “We have some trust in our defense. I was surprised with our turnovers . . . We did some things tonight that make you scratch your head. But any win is a good win.”