Freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half and led Georgia to a season-opening 62-49 win against Wofford on Friday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
The McDonald’s All-American admitted he suffered from a case of nerves when he scored six points in the Bulldogs’ exhibition win against Morehouse last Friday, but he went 5-for-11 from the floor in 16 minutes in the first half to lead the Bulldogs to a 30-21 halftime lead.
“He had an excellent first half and the other team noticed that he did, too, in the second half,” Georgia coach Mark Fox cracked.
Caldwell-Pope went 0-for-1 from the floor and 2-for-5 in the second half, but said he wasn’t out of sync.
“I didn’t feel like I got out of rhythm,” he said. “When I’m not making shots on offense, I just try to help the team in other ways like playing good defense.”
Fox said the Bulldogs were “3 happy” in the first half, when they went 5-for-15 from 3-point range, but didn’t work hard enough at getting their post players involved. They were outrebounded 24-14 in the first 20 minutes and only Caldwell-Pope, Gerald Robinson and Dustin Ware scored a point.
But they got things going in the post after intermission, outrebounding Wofford 26-14 -- led by Donte Williams, who had nine of his 13 rebounds in the second half.
“We had to,” Ware said. “Coach was not pleased with that at halftime.”
Added Fox: "If you noticed, the first possession of the second half, the ball went inside. We got outrebounded terribly in the first half and if you noticed, we won the rebounding battle in the second half and ended up winning it for the game. But our guys have so much to learn and we need some mistakes to grow from and some experience to build on."
The Bulldogs got a late lift from freshman Nemanja Djurisic, who didn’t play in the first half. In 13 second-half minutes, he scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds as the Bulldogs staved off a late Wofford push.
“He’s a crafty player,” Fox said of Djurisic, who has been slowed by a deep knee contusion.
The Terriers -- who are replacing four starters from last year’s NCAA Tournament team -- were within five with six minutes to play, but Djurisic scored all six points in a 6-1 Georgia run and Ware pushed the Bulldogs’ lead to 56-45 with a 3-pointer with 1:51 to play.
Ware finished with 14 points and Robinson had 11, although he was disappointed in his 2-for-12 effort from the floor.
Some notes and other observations:
* Georgia didn’t exactly play a clean first half -- the Bulldogs shot only 33 percent from the floor and from 3-point range -- but they only turned the ball over once. Don’t see that very often. They finished with eight total turnovers.
* Georgia football tight end Jay Rome has followed through on his desire to walk on with the basketball team. He entered the game for the first time with 28 seconds to play, but did not touch the ball.
Fox said he has practiced “on and off the entire fall,” starting on the first weekend of basketball practice when the football team played at Vanderbilt.
“He’s a good player, big body,” Robinson said when asked for an assessment of Rome. “He should help us out down the road.”
Georgia football player Nick Marshall has also expressed a desire to play basketball, but unlike Rome, he is playing as a true freshman this fall. Fox said he will not work with the basketball team until his football responsibilities are completed.
* Also, Georgia’s women won the first half of the season-opening doubleheader on Friday, beating TCU 83-60.
Anne Marie Armstrong scored a career-high 22 points, grabbed a career-high five steals and matched a career high with eight rebounds, while Meredith Mitchell had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Other Lady Bulldogs in double figures were Khaalidah Miller (17 points) and Jasmine James (14 points, nine assists, eight steals).
Georgia improved to 30-9 in season openers, including wins in 10 of the last 11 seasons.