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

Georgia.

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.

Technical foul.

”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

State.

Their only SEC defeat was at home to Florida last season, the

Musketeers’ only loss in their last 43 games at the Cintas

Center.

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

away.

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

coach.”

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.