With over 4,000 adoring Athens-area elementary students screaming for their hometown hero Bulldogs, the Georgia men’s basketball team picked up its fourth win in a row, beating Gardner-Webb 58-49 Thursday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.
The game was not perhaps the best educational event of Clarke County School’s first semester as both teams were sloppy and unsound. But as the kids can tell you, you don’t get to pick test day and to the Bulldogs credit they found enough players to make enough plays to win the game.
“I thought both teams had a tough time with the morning start,” said head coach Mark Fox. “I thought our team had a little zombie look to them–couldn’t even pass and catch it cleanly to start the game. Nemi [Djurisic] gave us a nice lift offensively in the first half. We just never quite found a rhythm–give their defense credit for that too. But our defensive rebounding was something that we’ve been focusing on, and it was key this afternoon to winning the game.”
The unlikely pair of Juwan Parker (career high 12 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals) and Marcus Thornton (11 points, 7 rebounds and career high 4 blocks) led the bulldogs. Nemi Djurisic came off the bench to score 8 points, all in the first half, and claim 8 rebounds.
After closing the first half on a 7-0 run to take a 21-12 halftime lead, the Runnin’ Bulldogs (6-7) slowly cut into the Georgia lead, trailing just 38 – 37 with 6:30 left in the game. Kenny Gaines then made a field goal plus a free throw to begin a Georgia run led by Charles Mann and Juwan Parker that sent the Athens Area students onto their buses wearing smiles.
The Bulldogs limited Gardner-Webb to its lowest point output of the season and just 31 percent shooting from the field.
Naji Hibbert and Tyler Strange led Gardner-Webb with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Georgia will return to action on Saturday with a 2 p.m. tip-off against Western Carolina (6-7). The game will be televised on CSS. For ticket information, go to Georgiadogs.com.