Georgia sophomore Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a career-high 32 points and picked up his seventh career double-double in Georgia’s 68-63 loss to LSU in the second round of the SEC Tournament Thursday afternoon at the Bridgestone Arena.
For the second consecutive game, Georgia nearly over came a disastrous opening period with a persistent and resilient second half effort. But once again it was not quite enough
“I have to congratulate LSU,” said head coach Mark Fox.”They came with a much more aggressive mentality to start the game and really had us on our heels and we really fought back courageously, but we just can’t wait that late in the game to start playing like that, and you’ve got to give their team credit and wish them well.”
After trailing by as many as 23 points, Georgia (15-17) roared back and had the ball trailing 66-63 with 12 seconds left, but Caldwell-Pope couldn’t connect from distance to tie the game. After the miss, LSU’s (19-11) Andre Stringer made two free throws to secure the win.
“I didn’t shoot it straight up and down,” said Caldwell-Pope of his final shot attempt. “I was leaning a little bit on the shot. It was well contested and I [didn't] create any space [to get an open shot].”
Caldwell-Pope, the SEC Player of the Year, scored 17 points in the second half’s first ten minutes. He cut the LSU lead to 54-44 midway through the half on a third chance three-pointer from the wing.
At the five-minute mark, Georgia began to put together a 10-0 run to pull within two, 63-61. Two possessions later, Caldwell-Pope’s game tying attempt hit iron, ending Georgia’s valiant second-half effort.
LSU controlled the first half taking a 39-19 lead into the halftime break. In the first half, the Tigers shot 5-of-12 from behind the three-point arc, forced nine first-half Georgia turnovers, and shot nearly 50 percent from the field.
The Tigers were led by Shavon Coleman and Stringer who scored 24 and 16 points, respectively.
Caldwell – Pope played in all but 2 minutes of the 40 minute contest and grabbed 14 rebounds to go with his 32 points. Georgia freshman Charles Mann contributed 15 points, including 12-of-14 from the free-throw line. Nemi Djurisic claimed 10 rebounds in 31 minutes of play. Georgia’s 11 turnovers, many resulting in easy first half LSU points, and 46% free throw shooting were more than the gritty Bulldogs could overcome.
With the loss, the careers of seniors Sherrard Brantley, John Florveus, and Vincent Williams were brought to a close. The focus for Georgia now turns to Kenneth Caldwell – Pope’s decision to stay at Georgia or enter the NBA draft. As Caldwell – Pope ponders his decision, the Georgia staff continues to recruit to fill one more roster spot with a 2013 recruit.
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