ATHENS -- At one point Friday night, Georgia point guard Charles Mann lost his balance on the baseline. He threw the ball up, and somehow it went through the net. As he turned to go downcourt, Mann threw up an arm as if to apologize.
Mann and the Bulldogs have become used to depending on the junior point guard to score by driving and getting fouled. But on Friday night they made a concerted effort to find other ways to score, and the results showed.
Georgia had its best performance of the young season, getting off to a fast start and cruising past Troy 82-60.
Senior Marcus Thornton had a career-high 17 points, matching the point total of fellow senior Nemanja Djurisic. But the best statistic for the Bulldogs was its 17 assists, with five players having at least two.
“We tried to explore some of the other options we have,” junior shooting guard Kenny Gaines said.
Mann was the team’s leading scorer last year, and often the team seemed dependent on his signature play -- cutting to the basket for a layup or a foul.
But when Georgia was at its best Friday night, it was because of great ball movement in the halfcourt, with Mann often not even touching it.
“We have a very balanced offensive team, and one of the things we talked about before the game was making sure we helped each other get everyone’s particular shot,” head coach Mark Fox said. “I thought in the first half we played very unselfishly, and we made each other better.”
Mann still ended up with 14 points, as well as a team-high eight rebounds. But he only had two points in the first 14 minutes, by which time the Bulldogs had taken a 32-16 lead.
“Just like momentum is infectious, when we start making plays for each other and when we start making shots, everybody starts hitting shots,” Thornton said. “It was really good and really fun to play like that.”
Another good sign was Gaines, who played 30 minutes in his first start this season. Gaines, who was slowed by the after-effects of mononucleosis, had 12 points and seven rebounds. After the game he estimated he was at about 90 percent strength.
Troy (1-2) lost 74-64 at home to Mississippi on Monday. It was led with 20 points by Wesley Person Jr., the son of the former Auburn and NBA shooting guard.
Georgia (2-1) has now won twice comfortably after its season-opening loss at Georgia Tech. Georgia plays Florida Atlantic on Sunday, before heading to New York for two important non-conference matchups: No. 13 Gonzaga, then either St. John’s or Minnesota.
“We’ve been able to win pretty comfortably with everybody being productive and everybody being effective,” Thornton said. “So going forward that’ll be pretty good for us.”