After a very difficult week for Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Fox, his team stepped up in a serious way, going into Columbia and knocking off the Missouri Tigers, 70-64, in overtime.
Fox lost his father earlier in the week, but his team played extremely well on Wednesday night, and they did what virtually no one expected them to do. Missouri had won 26 consecutive home games coming into the night, and with the way UGA had been playing at 6-6, the Tigers were favored by double-digits. However, the Dawgs played inspired ball, especially on the defensive end, and they set the tone with a huge first half.
Georgia emerged to a double-digit lead during the opening half, and settled in with a 5-point advantage at the break thanks to their defense. The Dawgs held Missouri well under 50% from the field in the first 20 minutes, and their 25-point showing was far below their season average. The second half wasn’t quite as effective as Mizzou emerged in order to force overtime, but for the most part, the defense was extremely consistent, and that showed with the Tigers shooting under 40% overall and committing 11 turnovers despite a relatively slow pace.
Charles Mann and Nemanja Djurisic led the way for Fox and company, as they combined to score nearly half of the points for Georgia. Mann was the top scorer at 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting in 42 (!!) minutes, while Djurisic came off the bench with his best game of the season, adding 16 points (including 4-for-5 from three) and 5 rebounds in 32 minutes.
It certainly wasn’t an aesthetically pleasing win for Georgia, but that’s more than okay with the final result. The Dawgs scuffled from the field, shooting only 43%, and honestly, their free-throw shooting (13 of 26) nearly cost them the game, but the defense stepped up for its highest level of play this season. The glass was also incredibly key for UGA, as they won the rebounding battle 43-to-34, and it was a total team effort in gang rebounding.
Winning one game on the road doesn’t “fix” everything for a struggling program, but this is a huge step for Mark Fox and his team. At 7-6, they have a long way to go, but Georgia’s record is now 1-0 in the SEC, and that provides some much needed optimism in Athens. Stay tuned.