January 7, 2012

Tide rolls Dawgs

Down by just four points with 9:18 to play, opportunity stared Georgia right in the face during Saturday night's SEC opener against Alabama.

But that's when the Crimson Tide shoved back, going on a 12-2 run over the next four minutes to roll past the Bulldogs 74-59 before a Stegeman Coliseum crowd of 7,776.

"We needed to stay out of foul trouble, we needed to guard their key guys and get to the last part of the game to give ourselves a chance to win," Bulldog head coach Mark Fox said. "We had the game kind of right where we wanted it; we weren't in foul trouble but at that point in the game, they made the plays and we didn't."

The final numbers weren't pretty.

Alabama (12-3, 1-0) outshot the Bulldogs (9-6, 0-1) 55 to 40 percent and killed Georgia on what's been the team's biggest weakness all year - rebounding - pulling down 35 boards to 20.

The Crimson Tide came into the contest shooting 46 percent from the field, including 6 of 17 from 3-point range. All six of Alabama's three-pointers came in the first half, including three by Trevor Lacey who finished with 19 points.

"They shot the ball much better than they've shot it all year," Fox said. "They didn't make a three-point shot in the second half, but in the first half they were effective."

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led all scorers with 22 points, followed by Gerald Robinson Jr. and Nemanja Djurisic with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The fact the Bulldogs were able to draw with four but were unable to overcome the Crimson Tide did not sit well with Caldwell-Pope.

"We played hard to get it back to four but then we just slacked off and just started playing sloppy on the defensive end," he said. "We gave them some easy baskets."

The collapse ruined what had been an otherwise impressive comeback by the Bulldogs, who trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half before closing to within 38-26 at intermission.

In the second, Georgia quickly closed to within 10 on a layup by Robinson before the Bulldogs went on a 9-4 run to creep within four points on a dunk by Donte Williams.

But Georgia would get no closer and after the Crimson Tide pushed the lead back to double-digits at 61-50, the Bulldogs would not be able to get back under 10.

"I think obviously there was a lot of emotion in the game, but my message was to settle down and understand what we had to do to win the game," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "It's always big to pick up a road win in this league. They're hard to come by but we found a way to get stops and get a win."

Tony Mitchell and Trevor Releford followed Lacey's 19-point effort with 17 and 12 points, respectively for the Crimson Tide.

Leading scorer JaMychal Green was held to eight points.

"We made freshman mistakes when it counted," Djurisic said. "Alabama is a good team, and they beat us on the boards all night. They are a tough, physical team and it was hard to battle them for 40 minutes."

Georgia returns to action Tuesday for the first of back-to-back road games at Florida and Vanderbilt before returning home on Jan. 18 against Tennessee.