Georgia may have found itself

semerson@macon.comJanuary 29, 2013 

ATHENS -- There were a couple of signs, before what turned out to be Georgia’s biggest win of the season, that the players were starting to realize time was running out.

Star guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope spoke to the team in warm-ups Saturday before it took on Texas A&M. His message was aimed at the team’s central problem -- lack of help for Caldwell-Pope.

“I had a talk with the team before the game, just trying to motivate them to score the ball and help us any way they could,” he said. “And they did that.”

And in the days before the trip, junior Donte’ Williams prefaced a team trip to the weight room by imploring for the team to keep getting stronger in order to have endurance for second halves.

“And he’s been through a few wars, so he understands that,” head coach Mark Fox said.

So Georgia held on to a halftime lead, a somewhat rare event this season. And it got a road victory, its first of the season.

And now the trick becomes carrying it into the easier portion of the schedule.

It starts for Georgia (8-11 overall, 2-4 SEC) on Wednesday at home against Auburn, which has identical records. But while the Tigers enter the game riding a four-game losing streak, the Bulldogs feel like they’re finally putting things together.

Fox pointed out that his team has played “pretty good” in five of its past six halves of basketball. The exception was the second half against Florida, now the nation’s fifth-ranked team.

“They’ve been more consistent,” Fox said of his players. “But you still need the reward of a good victory like that.”

And it got it at Texas A&M, holding on after leading by as many as 17. Caldwell-Pope again carried the load, with 22 points and nine rebounds. But 10 different players scored against Texas A&M, and 10 different players had a rebound.

That was the message Caldwell-Pope was trying to send before the game.

“That was pretty big,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We needed other players to score the ball, and they felt comfortable with scoring the ball that game. We all felt comfortable.”

The hope for Georgia is that Caldwell-Pope’s supporting cast is finally settling into consistent roles: Forwards Donte’ Williams and Nemanja Djurisic as consistent scoring contributors, at about 8 to 12 points per game. Vincent Williams and Charles Mann alternating at point guard. And the freshmen -- Mann, Brandon Morris and Kenny Gaines -- getting comfortable.

“The three freshmen have relaxed a little bit and kind of know where they can be aggressive,” Fox said. “Brandon for instance was aggressive, and got to the foul line (in College Station). A lot of guys know where they can potentially get a basket from, and they’re trying to hunt those opportunities.

“But I also think Kentavious is trying to emerge as a leader. As you guys probably experience, he’s a relatively quiet kid, but he’s really trying to grow in that role.”

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