Despite having the game’s top scorer, the Georgia men’s basketball team dropped a 64-53 decision to the South Florida Bulls on Friday night. The game, however, was much closer than the score would reflect. The game, played in front of 5,167 at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla., was part of the SEC/Big East Challenge. The loss saw the Dawgs season record fall to 2-5.
Sophomore guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the team and the game with 19 points, he was the only Dawg to score in double digits. Junior forward Marcus Thornton led Georgia in rebounding with 6 boards. Sophomore center John Cannon record a career high eight points and was Georgia’s second highest scorer.
The Dawgs took their first lead of the game mid-way through the first half on a Caldwell-Pope lay-up that put Georgia up 13-11. After the Bulls retook the lead, sophomore forward Tim Dixon gave the Dawgs a 15-13 lead before USF rallied to go into the locker room at half-time leading 27-24.
After hanging with the home team for the early part of the second period, it was Caldwell-Pope again giving the Dawgs the lead on 11:32 with an explosive dunk. The Bulls rallied again, however, but were not able to separate themselves from the Dawgs with junior forward Donte’ Williams hitting a 2-pointer while falling down to tie the contest at 50-points apiece. The game, however, got away from Georgia as the USF took advantage of being in the double bonus with free-throws down the stretch seeing them secure the 64-53 final.
“It felt like what really failed us in the game was our defense. We started the game poorly but then we settled down, ground things out and got the lead. In the gut of the game, when it was decided late in the second half, our defense and our rebounding failed us. We just didn’t get the stops we needed to get,” said coach Mark Fox. “Offensively in the second half we were playing very well until the end when we had to fire up some desperation shots. I thought offensively we had some pretty good numbers.”
The game was the first time Georgia and South Florida have played each other; it was also Georgia’s third straight appearance in the annual SEC/Big East Challenge. The defeat marked Georgia’s third loss in the annual event.
The Dawgs return to action on Tuesday when they travel to face in-state rival Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Ga. The game tips off at 7 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU.