December 16, 2011

Dawgs Cali bound

As Georgia prepares to return to the hardwood for the first time in 10 days, head coach Mark Fox will continue to try and find some solutions to the problem that's plagued his team for basically all of the season thus far - offense.

Currently, that's something the Bulldogs (4-5) aren't having much success at finding, as Georgia enters Saturday night's game (10 p.m.) at Southern Cal (4-6) ranked last in the SEC in scoring, averaging just 59.4 points per game.

"We're really struggling to score with the ball this year. We're just having a difficult time getting an easy one inside and we settle for too many 3-point shots because we're not finishing players on the interior," Fox said. "That's a challenge for this team."

The numbers don't lie.

Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope continues to lead Georgia in scoring, as he has all season, at 13.4 points per game. The only other Bulldog in double figures is senior guard Gerald Robinson, who is averaging 12.6 points per contest, although he is coming off a season-best 20-point effort last week against Georgia Tech.

As a team, Georgia also ranks last in field goal percentage, shooting just .378 from the field (188 for 497).

The team's youth continues to be part of the problem.

"We have so many new faces in new roles and that's the challenge we face as we've only got Dustin (Ware) and Gerald) who have played significant minutes in high-level games," Fox said. "For those guys to carry the team, they're not those kinds of players so we're going to need other guys to develop and give us some scoring punch. But as we develop offensively, we just can't quit defending and that's what happens. We get so frustrated offensively that out defense shuts down and you can't do that."

Unfortunately for Georgia, that's happened more times than not.

The Bulldogs led Georgia Tech 29-25 at the half before their second-half collapse in a 68-56 loss, an effort eerily similar to Georgia's previous two games.

Against Colorado, the Bulldogs led 38-34 before falling 70-68, and last Friday held a 30-21 against Cincinnati before scoring just 21 points in the final 20 minutes to lose 57-51.

"You can't let one end affect the other and I think one thing we have been able to do well is defend well in front of our bench the first half of games. We get away from our team's bench and have to defend out of earshot and we're not as good defensively," Fox said. "Then you hit a drought offensively and it affects our defense. Right now, that's what is happening."

Following Saturday's game against the Trojans (Southern Cal will return the trip to Athens next year), the Bulldogs will return home for four straight home contests against Mercer (Dec. 20), Furman (Dec. 23), Winthrop (Dec. 27) and Delaware State (Dec. 30) before opening SEC play on Jan. 7 against Alabama.

"We've tried to schedule up and in the long run I think it's the right thing to do, but when you lose two guys early to the draft like we've done this year it's makes things a little difficult," Fox said. "But this game (Southern Cal) is one we both thought would be one our fans would like to see and it's a game we could schedule right before the break. They'll come back here next year which will give us a high-level game right before league play. It will be another game we can learn from."