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November 15, 2012
After struggling to even get back into Thursday night's game with Southern Miss in the second round of the Progressive Legends Classic, losing 62-60 in overtime was almost more than Georgia sophomore Nemanja Djurisic could bear.
It's easy to understand his frustration.
After Djurisic scored five points with just over a minute left in regulation to help the Bulldogs draw even at 55, Georgia was still tied at 60 with under a minute to go in overtime and had the ball with a chance to pull out the victory.
But with 31 seconds left, Vincent Williams had the ball stolen by Michael Craig, who dished off to Dwayne Davis for turned out to be the game-winning basket.
Georgia (1-2) still had plenty of time to tie or take the lead, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a pair of 3-pointers in the final five seconds, the second bouncing off the side of the rim after a quick inbound with 1.4 seconds left.
"We had so many mistakes that we eventually just gave it to them," Djurisic said. "We fought so hard against their defense and it's even harder to have fought like that and lost."
However, the late turnover was obviously not the only reason for the Bulldogs'demise.
Georgia shot only 38.5 percent (20-for-52), was outrebounded on the defensive end 27-16 and converted just 11-of-21 free throw attempts, including just 7-of-15 in the second half.
"You can't lose 10 points at the foul line and get out-rebounded like we did in the second half (20-9) and win basketball games," Georgia head coach Mark Fox said. "I thought that was the two keys - certainly second-half rebounding and our poor performance at the foul line."
Georgia never truly found an answer to the Southern Miss zone.
The Bulldogs were just 9-of-30 from three-point range, most of the misses coming from Caldwell-Pope who hit on just 3-of-14, finishing with a team-high 17 points.
Djurisic chipped in with 12.
"I tell you, that's all they play (zone) and they're good at it. Their zone is really good. We ran a lot of things against it," Fox said. "I think at the end Vincent just mishandled it. I think we had one guy miss a cut where he should have cut. We knew it would be a challenge against their zone, but again when you shoot 52 percent from the free throw line, you just can't win that way."
Jerrold Brooks led the Golden Eagles with 17 points, including five huge 3-pointers. He was followed by Davis with 14.
"We talked prior to the game that we thought the keys for us were to try at least be even on the backboards," Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall said. "But we actually out-rebounded that big, strong physical front line by nine and the other thing was to limit Caldwell-Pope to a tough night."
The Bulldogs couldn't seem to get out of their own way to start the game.
A 3-pointer by Williams to start the game accounted for the night's first points, only to have Southern Miss score the next 15.
The first of three 3-pointers by Caldwell-Pope broke the spell with 11:54 to go in the half before the Golden Eagles extended the margin to 26-15.
But with the half winding down, Georgia finally found its spark in the unexpected form of John Cannon, whose two baskets helped pull within six on two straight occasions until a long 3-pointer by Sherrard Brantley sent the Bulldogs into the locker room trailing just 31-27.
NOTES: Thursday's game marked the return of junior forward Donte Williams, who was suspended by Fox for the first two games against Jacksonville and Youngstown State. Williams scored four points and had four rebounds in 25 minutes of play. "I thought he was a little rusty tonight to be honest with you. I thought he wasn't as effective as he was late last year," Fox said. "I kept him out because I didn't think he had been responsible enough. So, I thought he learned his lesson and it was time to start playing basketball." Williams said he knew before Thursday's contest that he was going to play, and although he did not give specifics for his suspension, he did say it had nothing to do with a misdemeanor arrest for marijuana back in the spring. "It was just about me making poor consequences and being irresponsible," Williams said. "I had to pay the consequences." Georgia returns to action Monday when the Bulldogs travel to Brooklyn to take on top-ranked Indiana at the brand new Barclays Center in the semifinals of the Progressive Legends Classic.