ATHENS Georgia star Kentavious Caldwell-Pope spent the minutes after his teams first SEC win in the training room, his leg having been punctured by an LSU players teeth.
He had company in there: Fellow sophomore Nemanja Djurisic had blood glushing out of his nose, according to head coach Mark Fox.
Apparently, it took getting literally bruised and bloody for Georgia to get its first SEC win, 67-58 over LSU.
Its good to see guys laying it on the line, forward Donte Williams said. Georgia (7-10 overall, 1-3 in the SEC) needed the win badly, with one of the conferences worst teams in town. A week ago in a similar circumstance, against Mississippi State, Foxs team couldnt take advantage. This time it did, pulling away from LSU (9-6, 0-4) and its full-court press.
We knew that we had to get a win today. We didnt want to fall to 0-4 in conference play, Williams said. So I just think everybody just knew and came together and just focused.
Georgia led most of the way, leading by as many as eight points midway through the second half. But then LSUs fullcourt press turned the game, forcing the Bulldogs into 10 second-half turnovers.
We had one young guy that was just continually in the wrong spot, and so there wasnt an outlet to pass the ball. That kind of challenging, Fox said, not specifying which player, but most of the team is freshmen and sophomores.
But the turning point came with 3:45 left, when the game was tied: Djurisic reached across to make a nice steal. On the other end, Williams made a layup while being fouled. That was the fifth foul for LSUs Malik Morgan, who had 12 points. Williams free throw made it 57-54 and then he made a steal on defense. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drilled a long jumper to extend the lead to five.
As usual, Caldwell-Pope (22 points) led the way for Georgia. His steal with about a minute left helped prevent LSU from rallying. But he had help this time, with Williams chipping in 14 points, and the team shooting 44 percent overall.
A lot of teams sometimes play Kentavious aggressively, Williams said. Just today, giving him some free balls, it helped him out.
The final minute produced the brutal collision between Caldwell-Pope and LSU guard Corban Collins, who got the worst of it.
Collins had to be carted off the court with what a team spokesman later described as a hit across the nose. He would have to receive stitches.
Georgia now hopes to use the first win to infuse some energy into a sagging season. But the next game, at home, is against No. 11 Florida, which beat Georgia by 33 less than two weeks ago.
Our team has probably never felt a great amount of confidence this year, Fox said. Thats a big hurdle to overcome, and we gotta keep fighting till we get over it. Tonight was certainly a good step.