Poor-shooting Georgia falls to No. 12 Xavier 70-56
The only way Georgia coach Mark Fox could even slow No. 12
Xavier’s balanced offense was to keep calling timeouts, giving his
cold-shooting team a chance to collect itself.
Even that backfired eventually.
Point guard Tu Holloway scored 12 points despite a sore finger
on his right hand Friday night, and the Musketeers turned to their
balance and their youngsters for a 70-56 victory over poor-shooting
Xavier (4-0) extended its success against the Southeastern
Conference by making full use of its roster for the first time this
season. Only one player was on the floor for more than 26 minutes –
center Kenny Frease, who had 12 points in 30 minutes.
Georgia (3-2) missed its first 11 shots, fell behind 10-0 and
never recovered, trailing by 36 points midway through the second
half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 14 for the Bulldogs, who shot
32 percent from the field.
”We got off to a very slow start,” Fox said.
Fox used all but one of his timeouts in the first half,
repeatedly huddling his team to try to change the momentum. He used
the last timeout with 17:48 to go in the game, while Xavier was in
the midst of a 12-0 run that blew it open. That came back to hurt
the Bulldogs when Caldwell-Pope got a loose ball on the floor and
tried to call timeout rather than get tied up with 12:09 left.
”I had to use a lot of timeouts early,” Fox said. ”We were
trying to hold on until halftime. We couldn’t quite do it.”
The Musketeers pulled away even though Holloway couldn’t take
any long shots because of the sore shooting hand, which was wrapped
in ice after the game. He bent a finger while going for a loose
ball in practice during the week.
”He’s such a tough kid. He just seems to get beat up little
bit,” coach Chris Mack said. ”He let the game come to him. He was
in attack mode and played hard defensively and didn’t let that stop
him from being the leader he is.”
Xavier has won eight of its last nine games against SEC teams
since 2008, beating Georgia three times during that span. The
Musketeers also have wins over Florida, Auburn and Louisiana
Their only SEC defeat was at home to Florida last season, the
Musketeers’ only loss in their last 43 games at the Cintas
Xavier won in Athens 65-57 last season, when Holloway failed to
score in the first half, then had 18 to help the Musketeers pull
Holloway is trying to get into a rhythm after a tough opening
stretch. He had to sit out the opener against Morgan State because
he played too many summer games, a violation of NCAA rules. He
returned and had 24 points against IPFW, but was physically subpar
in a 66-60 win over Miami of Ohio a week ago.
Holloway was light-headed in the days leading up to the Miami
game, in which he scored only nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. Now,
he’s also contending with the sore hand.
The Bulldogs were coming off 61-57 win over Notre Dame on
Tuesday in the CBE Classic consolation game. They lost to No. 20
California a day earlier.
The Musketeers showed off their newcomers while taking control.
At one juncture during the 10-0 opening run, Mack had freshman
point guard Dee Davis, freshman forward Dez Wells, freshman forward
Justin Martin, junior Travis Taylor and junior guard Mark Lyons on
the floor. Taylor finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Mack wanted to get his newcomers into the game early and let
them play significant roles.
”I love our freshmen,” Mack said. ”I’ve never coached where I
felt I have as many players that are talented enough and working
hard enough to get into the game. I’ve never had that as a
Xavier pushed the lead to 14-3 with Georgia going 1 of 16 from
the field with six turnovers in the first 10 minutes. Wells had the
most crowd-pleasing play during the run, taking the ball around his
back to avoid a steal while driving for a layup.
It was 28-19 at the half, with seven Xavier players scoring,
none more than six points. The Bulldogs were 6 of 28 from the field
with 11 turnovers.
Holloway got involved during a 12-point run that opened the
second half and pushed the lead to 40-19. He hit a pair of free
throws, a layup and a fadeaway jumper. Georgia missed five shots
and had two turnovers during the decisive spurt.