The biggest question mark for the Georgia Bulldogs heading into this season was the production they would get from their big men. Losing their top three post players from last year meant minutes and points were up for grabs.
It looks like the young forwards are beginning to get comfortable with their roles on the team.
Donte’ Williams had a career-high 17 points to lead four players in double figures as Georgia defeated South Dakota State, 72-61, to continue their unbeaten start to the season.
“On the scouting report, we saw that they weren’t really a big team, so we put emphasis on going down low and winning the low-post game,” Williams said.
Georgia (3-0) trailed by as many as seven in the second half, but an improvement in rebounding and fastbreak offense fueled a 21-6 run that put the Bulldogs in control.
“We wore them down with a lot of bodies,” Coach Mark Fox said after the game. “We didn’t play particularly well throughout the game, but we played hard. Winning the rebounding battle keyed [the second half run], and the transition game was a big part of that, too.”
Gerald Robinson added 15 points, and Nemanja Djurisic scored 12 of his 14 in the second half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also had 14. It was the first time this season that Georgia had more than two players in double figures.
“I just felt more confident that I could score,” said Djurisic, a freshman from Montenegro. ”I took advantage of my ability to run fast and get some easy buckets. They could spread out and shoot, but they were not as strong inside.”
Fox preached improvements in the rebounding game during halftime, especially on the defensive end. South Dakota State (1-1) had 13 second-chance points in the first half but only four in the second.
Another key to the improved play was containing the Jackrabbits’ backcourt tandem of Nate Wolters and Taevaunn Prince, who scored 15 and 13 points, respectively, but combined for just five in the second half.
The Bulldogs shot just 20 percent from downtown but had a 40-24 advantage in points in the paint and made the Jackrabbits pay for their 11 missed free throws.
It was Georgia’s second win in the 2011 Progressive CBE Classic. They defeated Bowling Green on Sunday, 63-54.
Georgia gets the weekend off and returns to action next Monday night, when they face California in a continuation of the CBE tournament.