ATHENS, Ga. -- While Georgia slipped into a deep scoring lull, Cincinnati guards Dion Dixon and Sean Kilpatrick led the Bearcats on a 16-4 run in the second half Friday at Stegeman Coliseum en route to a 57-51 comeback win.
Dixon and Kilpatrick scored 31 of Cincinnati’s 36 points in the second half as the Bearcats (5-2) rallied from a 30-21 halftime deficit.
Dixon snapped a 43-all tie with a 3-pointer with 4:49 remaining and Cincinnati did not trail the rest of the way. He hit three 3-pointers in a three-minute stretch to keep Cincinnati in the lead and Kilpatrick buried a 3 from the corner in front of his bench with 22 seconds to play that put the Bearcats up 53-46 and essentially secured the victory.
“We knew going in that they were really good players and capable of doing that,” said Georgia guard Dustin Ware, whose team lost its third straight game. “I think we just lost them a few times and sometimes they just made a couple good plays.”
Georgia (4-4) shot just 28 percent (6-for-21) in the second half as Cincinnati rallied ahead. At one point, they went nearly seven minutes without a field goal before Marcus Thornton hit an unorthodox runner just before the shot clock expired with 6:04 to play.
Bulldogs coach Mark Fox said the scoring lull is a product of the team’s youth.
“We’re going to have some droughts,” Fox said. “As we grow up, we’re going to have some droughts and what we’ve talked to our team about is when those come -- because they’re going to happen -- we’ve got to continue to defend. We were a little better defensively during that drought, but I think they just turned it up a notch.”
Georgia’s top young player, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, continues to be subject to those lulls, as well. Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points, four rebounds and three steals in the first half and the Bulldogs led by as many as 12 points. But Caldwell-Pope was held scoreless in the second half until he buried a deep 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining in the game.
Caldwell-Pope finished as one of two Bulldogs in double figures with 16 points, along with seven rebounds and four steals.
“We’re asking him to do a lot,” Fox said. “We’re asking this guy one month into his career to play 30 minutes a game, score, guard one of the best players on the other end. We’re asking him to do a great deal and the fact that he’s a freshman the first month of the season probably has a great deal to do with that.”
Gerald Robinson was the only other Bulldog in double figures with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists.
The senior guard agreed that if the Bulldogs slip into scoring lulls while the young players gain experience, they must be that much more effective on the defensive end.
“Obviously it affects you when the ball’s not dropping for you,” Robinson said. “The main focus is just not letting it affect you on the defensive end, too. If you’re not scoring and giving up points, it’s a lose-lose situation. So when we’re in lulls like that, our main focus is to tighten up our defense. Actually if you’re not scoring, you have to defend harder.”
Other notes and quotes:
* Georgia is off now until hosting Georgia Tech next Wednesday. The game will tip at 7 p.m. and air on FoxSportsNet.
* Georgia has lost four out of five and three straight, but Robinson said he does not believe the team is in a slump: “We don’t feel like we’re in a slump at all. We just lost some games to some good teams. We lost to some good teams, some experienced teams and we’re going to put that behind us.”
* Georgia rebounded effectively against some extremely large Cincinnati players. Rebounding has been an issue for the Bulldogs, but they actually tied the Bearcats 33-all on the boards. “We started working on it at practice, going real hard at each other trying to compete and we just did it tonight,” Caldwell-Pope said.
* Robinson on the same subject: “I commend our big guys. They took on a big challenge in regards to their big guys. They’re a little thinner and they took on their big guys. I felt like they handled it very well, so I commend and respect our big guys for that. We just gave up a lot of open shots and they hit some shots. They’re experienced players, an experienced team and they hit some shots when they needed to.”
* Other Mark Fox quotes:
On the game:
“That was a physical basketball game. That was a high-level game. You have to credit Cincinnati for really making a lot of plays and having a very good second half. They’re a good basketball team and we competed really hard and just didn’t make enough plays in the end to win.”
On Cincinnati’s tough defense in second half:
“Their defense was good. Give them credit. That’s an older, mature, strong team and I thought their strength was a factor in the game. And their defense in the second half, you have to give them credit, was very good.”
On what changed in second half:
“Certainly they shot some balls in from 3 and we were not able to get to the foul line and set our press as much in the second half, which was so good to us in the first half. Again, you have to give those guys credit for making shots. They made some deep 3s, too.”