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November 19, 2012
It's not been a stellar start for Indiana's opponent today, the Georgia Bulldogs. Mark Fox's team has fallen already to a pair of smaller programs in Youngstown State and Southern Mississippi. Not a good sign when up next is top-ranked Indiana in front of the nation at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. But that's what's ahead of the SEC team at 5:30 p.m. in an ESPNU broadcast.
Right now the Bulldogs just can't put the ball in the basket. Through three games Georgia is shooting just 37.0 percent from the floor. In the loss at home to Youngstown State, Georgia hit just 3-for-24 field goals in the first half, scoring just 14 points in those opening 20 minutes. UGA was able to finally find some offensive in the second half, but it was too late and the Horizon League team won easily, 68-56.
"We're off to a slower start than we anticipated but we're still a relatively young team with nine freshmen and sophomores," said Fox. "Our team hasn't established great confidence yet just because they're learning how to win and how to play."
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the star player for Fox. Against Youngstown State he was 10-for-18 and hit five three-pointers in a 27-point effort. The rest of the Georgia team was just 7-for-35 in the loss and coming into the Indiana game, Caldwell-Pope's 20.3 ppg scoring average is double any other Bulldog.
"He can beat you in a variety of ways," said Indiana associate head coach Tim Buckley on Friday. "He can beat you off the dribble, he can shoot it from deep and he is really good at cutting and moving without the basketball. If you allow him to get away from you, he can score in bunches. So we have to do a terrific job from the time they bring the ball down in transition through the rest of the half-court set."
Obviously without a lot of scoring help, opposing defenses will be able to focus most of the attention on Caldwell-Pope. He didn't seem to handle it well last Thursday against Southern Mississippi. The 6-foot-5 guard hit just 5-for-21 from the floor. He took 14 shots from beyond the arc, making just three. Georgia fell in overtime, 62-60, losing for the second straight time at home.
"Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been our most consistent player but maybe not been as efficient as we would like," said Fox.
Senior Vincent Williams patience has been rewarded by an opportunity to start at point guard his final season. But thus far he's shooting just 28.7 percent from the floor. 6-foot-4 freshman Charles Mann may be the long term answer at point. He dished out four assists in just 15 minutes in that last outing.
The second leading scorer this year for UGA has been import forward Nemanja Djurisic. The 6-foot-8, 230-pounder from Montenegro had 12 points in the loss to Southern Miss but did not pull a rebound down in the game and he's shooting just 25.3 percent on the year.
Last Thursday Fox went with a bigger lineup, starting Djurisic alongside 6-foot-8, 235-pound Marcus Thornton and 6-foot-11, 240-pound John Florveus. While Florveus has the size to compete with Cody Zeller, he's a senior that has seen little time and was scoreless with one board in 10 minutes in the Southern Miss game.
There's more size on the bench in sophomores Tim Dixon and Donte' Williams. Both measure in at 6-foot-9, 225-pounds. Williams started as a freshman last season, averaging 7.8 points and 5.1 boards per game. Fox sat him for disciplinary reasons in the first two games and brought him off the bench last Thursday. Williams played 25 minute in the contest but missed all four of his free throws and had a costly late turnover in overtime.
"He was a little rusty, a little out of rhythm but he obviously was a key player for us last year," said Fox about Williams. "Once he gets back into rhythm, he will really help us."
Despite the team's good size, Georgia has been outboarded in the three games this year by over six rebounds on average.
"The biggest challenge for us is to look at ourselves and the errors that have cost us some games," said Fox. "Last night (vs. So. Miss.) the free throw line was very costly to us."
Following this contest the Barclays Center will also host the other Progressive Legends Classic semifinal, a matchup between UCLA and Georgetown. The losers of the two games will play tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. ET and the winners will meet afterward at approximately 10:00 p.m. ET. ESPN will carry the title game and ESPNU will have the consolation contest.
Former Indiana coach Bob Knight is scheduled to broadcast today's ESPNU telecast of the Georgia-Indiana game along with play-by-play veteran Dan Shulman. It will be Knight's first ever direct broadcasting work of an Indiana game.
For more on the broadcast details and on Georgia, check out the Hoosier Game Day page.
Expected starters and key reserves with current stats: